Tomorrow, mayors from across the country accompanied by young leaders from their communities will convene in Los Angeles for the first-ever Mayors National Youth Summit.
Now more than ever, our current political and social climate make it clear that decisions made today will have serious implications on the next generation as they take up the mantle of leadership.
Young people bring fresh perspectives and strong voices to some of the most important issues being discussed and debated in our society. The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) recognizes how valuable their input is and how important it is to ensure that all young people remain engaged in the political process and committed to advocating for their beliefs.
The Mayors National Youth Summit was born from the Youth Involvement Task Force launched at the 86th United States Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting and led by Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. These efforts reflect USCM’s recognition that the growing wave of activism led by young people like Parkland survivor David Hogg requires America’s mayors to take a proactive approach to engaging young people in our cities. The formation of the Youth Involvement Task Force also aligned with research released by Harvard’s Kennedy School Institute of Politics which showed a significant increase in the percentage of Americans under 30 who said they would definitely be voting in the 2018 midterm elections.
The increase in young leaders taking an active role in politics and policy inspired Mayor Bemis to develop the first ever Mayors National Youth Summit. At the USCM’s Annual Meeting in 2018 Mayor Bemis told his fellow mayors, “As mayors we need to listen to the recent and urgent call to action from our nation’s youth. We must hear their voices and give them a seat at the table. In fact, maybe it’s America’s mayors who need to go out and find those tables.”
And that’s exactly what happened. USCM created the Mayors National Youth Summit as a place for mayors and young leaders from across the country to share insights and experiences and bring home new ideas on how to better engage young community members.
By discussing topics like city youth councils, creating a culture of service, youth townhall programs, and fostering young voter engagement, summit participants will better understand the challenges associated with increasing youth participation in politics and policy and the best ways to overcome those obstacles.
“Bringing together mayors and young leaders from across the country for this first of its kind summit is a great step forward in increasing youth engagement in our cities,” said Bryan Barnett, Mayor of Rochester Hills (MI) and USCM President. “As mayors, it’s imperative that we hear from our peers, but also from the young people who have been inspired to play an active role in the decisions that will shape the country they will lead in the future.”