Community leaders and students gathered at Broome-Tioga BOCES today for a dialogue about the role, goals and future of youth civic engagement in the Southern Tier. The event, titled “A Community Conversation About Youth Civic Engagement,” was sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell), Binghamton University’s (BU) Center for Civic Engagement and Broome Community College’s (BCC) Center for Civic Engagement. The program featured Dennis Donovan, the National Organizer for Public Achievement.
The event was an outgrowth of Lupardo’s recent trip to the White House, where she met with prominent educators and policy makers from across the country to discuss how colleges and universities can build and strengthen their community partnerships. The focus was also on the state of civic education in the K-12 system.
“It’s important that we find ways to connect students at every level to our community,” said Lupardo. “The more we positively engage them in community activities, the better citizens they’ll be.”
“Public Achievement gives students of all ages the opportunity to do real work on real issues to solve public problems,” said Donovan. “They learn how to work across differences in order to make community changes.”
“BCC is quite excited about Public Achievement as a means for educating young people to become engaged citizens,” said Doug Garnar, Chair, BCC Center for Civic Engagement. “Using this model, Lisa Strahley, an education professor at BCC, has begun work on a pilot project with the Johnson City School district focusing on 4th and 5th graders working with BCC students next fall on a civic project. The college’s Center for Civic Engagement is also exploring opportunities for its civic education faculty to work collaboratively with local high school Participation in Government faculty on ‘deliberative democracy’ projects.”
“Being in youth development for many years, and based on what I have seen in the community, this is a conversation that we need to have,” said Allison Alden, Director, BU Center for Civic Engagement. “Healthy youth development involves the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the public good, which is just what we expect in the outcome of this.”
Public Achievement is a youth civic engagement initiative focused on the basic concepts of citizenship, democracy and public work. It has been recognized as one of the best youth citizenship education models in the world. It’s being used successfully in the United States and 20 other countries.
The Public Achievement organizing model recognizes that people of every age have skills, talents and ideas, and that by learning to work strategically with others they can solve problems and build sustainable democratic societies. In a school setting, young people form teams to take action on a public problem that is important to them. The team works with a coach—a teacher, college student, or community member—to develop an action plan. Through practice and reflection, the team members develop public skills and confidence.
For additional information about Public Achievement, visit www.publicachievement.org.