Civic Youth Leadership Academy (CYLA) is the latest civic engagement initiative of EmpowerLA. Designed to increase youth participation in Neighborhood Councils, this free six-session course took place this summer as a partnership between the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and the Mayor’s Innovation Team and Office of Public Engagement.
Of the approximate one hundred applications received, a carefully selected cohort of 40 students aged 15-20 were accepted to the program. Over the course of six Saturday morning sessions here at City Hall, these youth participated in interactive workshops and heard from many of our great city leaders, such as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Ana Guerrero; Board of Public Works Commissioner Heather Repenning; Department of Neighborhood Empowerment General Manager Grayce Liu; Bureau of Sanitation’s Leo Martinez; Henry Casas of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement; and Nancy Olsen of the Southern California Leadership Network, among many others, and of course, Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The program covered topics such as civics and government structure, user-centered design thinking, public speaking, community organizing, and service learning. The youth organized and completed seven simultaneous neighborhood clean ups that took place citywide on September 10th.
CYLA concluded on Saturday, September 24th at the Congress of Neighborhoods, where five student panelists led a discussion on increasing youth participation in Neighborhood Councils in a session 4 workshop. The youth touched on the topics of targeted outreach for students both in schools and elsewhere in the community. They also discussed the need for increased “youth-friendliness” of Neighborhood Councils by lowering the age requirements to participate, allowing youth to form and head committees, and the importance of being given real responsibility.
Following the panel, Mayor Garcetti spoke to the youth in his press conference room, congratulating them on their achievements and leading them over to the closing session of Congress where he presented them as “not just leaders of the future, but leaders of the now.” After the closing session, the youth were presented with Certificates of Appreciation by Grayce Liu and the Director of the Mayor’s Innovation Team, Amanda Daflos.
Congratulations to the inaugural class of CYLA! Many thanks to all those involved in making Civic Youth a great success. EmpowerLA will continue this program annually, and the application period for next summer’s iteration will be opening in the spring!