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Civic Impact

Youth leaders learn city government first hand, without getting elected

It's too late to enter the mayoral primaries, but kids can get inspired to pursue other civic service by enrolling in this summer's Youth Civic Leadership program created by the Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and part of the servePGH initiative.
"It's a good chance for youth interested in making a difference, particularly in the public sector," says Rebecca Delphia, chief service officer in the mayor's office. Kids participating in the free six-session program, which meets two times a week for three weeks, get to do everything from exploring the training facility for the city's emergency personnel to seeing the drinking water treatment process of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) and meeting officials of the city planning department to see what tools they use in their work. The program culminates with a service project that each kid designs and executes him or herself.
It has its origins in the city's Civic Leaders Academy for adults, created several years ago. As a result of this youth version, says Delphia, there has been a real interest among the participants in learning about city careers and eventually seeking a post in city government.
Last summer, one participant learned about mini-grants for neighborhood projects available through the city's Love Your Block program. So he mobilized the sports teams and others in his school – Pittsburgh Obama – and partnered with the Save Race Street Committee in Homewood to transform two vacant lots into green spaces at Race and Collier streets. Another participant used his service project to partner with Zone 6 police in the West End for a playground revitalization, while another partnered with PWSA on storm drain stenciling, warning potential dumpers that each sewer drains to a river. One program graduate even joined the mayor's youth council.
Applicants must be 14-18 years old -- either entering 9th grade this fall or graduating at the end of the current school year. Application deadline is June 3; apply here
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Rebecca Delphia, Office of the Mayor
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