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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

NYC teenagers unveil a web-based civics roadmap for his or her friends

Seeking to run a voter registration drive at your faculty? Need to discover ways to earn a highschool diploma with a “seal of civic readiness,” demonstrating civic abilities and data? Looking for out extra concerning the NYC Mayor’s Workplace internship program?

Or perhaps you wish to get a head begin on registering for the upcoming election, whether or not you’re 18 or not. (Those that are 16-17 can now pre-register so they’re routinely registered after they flip 18.)

This info and extra might be discovered on the “Youth Civic Hub,” a web-based portal launched on Friday, designed “by youth, for youth,” to extend youth civic engagement and electoral participation.

Led by the NYC Youth Agenda and Civic Coalition, this one-stop clearinghouse features a wealth of knowledge, starting from internships and volunteer alternatives to voter registration instruments and an elections portal with scorecards score candidates on younger folks’s points. It’s going to quickly have a “energy map” explaining the completely different roles of elected officers, a glossary outlining the language generally utilized in civic areas, and a listing of assorted native organizations for younger folks to attach with.

The younger folks behind the portal are hoping to get it within the arms of New York Metropolis lecturers, to allow them to share it with their college students and expose them to “high-quality” civic alternatives throughout the 5 boroughs.

Creating the hub has been a yearslong mission spearheaded by YVote, a teen-focused civic engagement nonprofit that’s serving to lead the bigger NYC Civic Coalition.

“We’re not simply serving to voters, we’re attempting to make the connections — who oversees what,” mentioned Mia Payne, a 2022 graduate of Manhattan’s Expertise Limitless Excessive Faculty, alumnus of YVote, and a youth co-chair on the training transition workforce for Mayor Eric Adams.

“We simply wish to join the dots of the roles and tasks [of government officials],” she mentioned. Although younger folks typically “simply see whoever’s on the TV,” which is usually the mayor or governor, it’d make extra sense to succeed in out to their metropolis council member for varsity neighborhood points, she mentioned.

When Payne joined YVote in her sophomore 12 months of highschool, she requested why it was so exhausting to seek out out who represents you and what they do and consider. It turned out the group was already engaged on fixing this downside by constructing the hub. She believes the work they’re doing can function a blueprint for different states.

The portal comes at a pivotal second, simply months earlier than November’s presidential election. Within the 2022 midterm elections, simply 7.6% of eligible Bronx voters ages 18-29 forged ballots and 15.3% of Queens younger folks voted, in response to CIRCLE, an unbiased youth civic engagement analysis group primarily based at Tufts College. About 18% of Brooklyn voters on this age group forged ballots together with 18.8% in Manhattan and 23.4% in Staten Island. The statewide common, 19.8%, was decrease than the nationwide common of 23%.

The nation’s political polarization can flip younger folks off from eager to be civically concerned, Payne mentioned, however she additionally believes that the hub may also help present completely different factors of entry for younger folks to really feel extra empowered.

“There’s loads of distrust and misinformation. We wish to make this as cross-partisan as attainable and straight information,” Payne mentioned. “The aim of the hub: It’s possible you’ll not agree or be pleased with your elected officers, however on the finish of the day, the facility is within the folks’s hand. You’ve got the flexibility to carry them accountable and elect another person.”

Written in “teen-friendly” language the hub goals to succeed in younger folks, particularly these in “civic deserts,” the place there’s much less broadband entry and fewer publicity to election-related information and data.

By the portal, younger folks can study numerous alternatives to become involved with communities: You will discover out tips on how to volunteer at a farm in Brooklyn’s Purple Hook neighborhood, apply for an internship at a design museum in Manhattan, or try to land a civics-focused fellowship centered on such points as prison justice, voting rights, and media literacy.

“Many youth don’t know of any alternatives in addition to those of their colleges, and the hub goals to vary that,” mentioned Afsana Rahman, a member of the hub youth working group and senior on the Queens Excessive Faculty for the Sciences at York School. (She grew to become concerned within the hub by way of her work in CUNY’s Intergenerational Change Initiative.)

The hub might be formally unveiled on Monday on the NYC Youth Agenda Coverage Occasion, the place younger folks may also share their coverage suggestions for tips on how to make town extra equitable for youth, primarily based on hundreds of surveys of teenagers throughout town.

Amy Zimmer is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat New York. Contact Amy at azimmer@chalkbeat.org.

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