In 2017, DCAYA held our first Youth Advocacy for Action Summit, where youth serving organizations from across the city convened to pause, reflect and recharge to reinforce our vision for DC children and youth. A common theme echoed in small group discussions, was the need for youth voice to be incorporated as organizations, agencies and institutions work to strengthen programming, refine best practices and inform policy.

Youth Voice icon

A Call To Amplify Youth Voices

Leaning into youths’ expertise is vital if we want to continue yielding positive youth outcomes. Here are a few questions to consider as your organization thinks about ways to lift up youth voices:

  1. As your organization strategizes to build a more youth-friendly city, how can your organization instill practices to ensure that youth are sitting at the table as thought partners?
  2. How can we create safe spaces for youth to express themselves and view adults as allies, so that they can become key partners in developing strategies on issues that impact them?

We heard our member organizations loud and clear at our 2017 Summit, here is how we amplified youth voices in 2018:

2018 Youth Mayoral Forum

hand about to submit ballot

We partnered with Critical Exposure and Mikva DC, two youth-serving organizations, to develop a Youth Mayoral Forum! With the 2018 Mayoral Election, we wanted to ensure that DC youth across the city had an opportunity to voice the most pressing issues they are experiencing to the Mayoral Candidates and other key decision makers. The Youth Mayoral Forum provided a safe space for young people and policymakers to have discussions about implementing policies that impact youth.

To help plan and execute the Youth Mayoral Forum, we identified 15-17 young people who led this initiative through their participation on the Youth Mayoral Forum Leadership Team. The Leadership team included youth ranging ages 14-20, representing diverse communities, schools, and experiences. While this was a joint-led effort, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, Critical Exposure and Mikva DC simply served as allies to the Youth Mayoral Forum Leadership Team. In this role, we helped facilitate youth through decision-making processes and provided weekly workshops where they learned leadership, project management, and community outreach skills.

And with the Youth Mayoral Form having happened, be sure to bookmark this page, as well as keep up with Youth Voice posts on our blog, for updates on DCAYA’s ongoing work with our DC Youth Moving Forward programs!

Have any questions? Please email Mariah Green, our Director of Youth Programs in charge of this work.