Youth Council for Public Policy
Movements for change are almost always spear-headed by young people who are bold, imaginative and courageous. INVST is fundamentally interested in what youth have to say about how the world ought to be.
The Youth Council for Public Policy empowers students to use the democratic process as a tool for positive social change. It uniquely offers high school students from Boulder Valley and Saint Vrain school districts the chance to attend classes on the CU-Boulder campus and participate with college students, earning CU credit.
In INVS 1523, a dedicated teaching team empowers high school and college students to explore their own opinions and political leanings and encourages young people to consider making a bid for public office. The Youth Council empowers learners to develop opinions on local political topics, and educates people as young as age 13 on the most pressing environmental and social justice concerns reflected in public policy. Perhaps most importantly, the program attempts to get young people excited, inspired and enthusiastic about politics, and hopes to foment a culture of political engagement and enthusiasm.
In September of 2002, INVST Community Studies worked with former Colorado State Senator Dorothy Rupert to design a non-partisan model to educate young people about the democratic process.
Youth Council students learn the basic workings of democracy and the U.S. political system. They examine civic values and develop understanding about civil liberties, with a focus on the balance of the rights and responsibilities of being U.S. citizens. In addition, they learn skills for competent citizenship such as advocacy and civil discourse. For example, in each course they have the experience of individually and collectively analyzing current political issues, determining viable policy solutions and presenting their positions. The course description is as follows:
INVS 1523: USING DEMOCRACY AS A TOOL FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
This course educates and inspires students for civic engagement. Students will develop theoretical knowledge and practical skills to participate successfully in a diverse democratic society, primarily at the state & local levels. They will have first-hand experience critically analyzing legislative issues, developing policy recommendations, and learning to advocate for change.
Students say Youth Council Makes a Difference:
"Public officials and community members we have dialogued with, at the capitol or in class, [are] people who actually effect change."
"Prior to this class I had never paid any attention to the Colorado legislature, only to the national arena. I think this has helped me expand my knowledge and interest in politics."
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Uniqueness of the Youth Council for Public Policy:
Our Youth Council is unique because:
- It is specifically focused on the electoral process. The program addresses the problem of low youth voter turnout and addresses the knowledge gap regarding the structure and functions of the US political system.
- The Youth Council helps with individual value formation. Different from INVST’s Community Leadership Program, which selects a small cluster of youth who are already devoted to working for social justice and environmental sustainability, the Youth Council offers students a chance to explore who they are socially and politically and discover their own opinions and beliefs. A non-partisan program, the Youth Council has always exposed learners to Democrats, Republicans, et cetera.
- The program brings together learners of various ages, showing that all citizens can learn from each other, and illustrating INVST’s commitment to life-long learning.
We thank our generous donor, Cynda Collins-Arsenault, for her support of our Youth Council. We thank the Honorable Dorothy Rupert for teaching & mentoring us for so many years!