Back in the early 2000s, Portland, Oregon, was another midline American city with nothing special happening. Sure, they had a city youth council, but it was under-energized and ill-equipped for the new century that just began. Then, action happened.
In 2002, Multnomah County hired a new youth development coordinator named Josh Todd, and he transformed the entire operation. Over the course of a half-decade, he basically super-charged the county’s youth programs and set them up for the future.
During that time, there were several significant developments. They included:
- Focusing on youth of color and low-income youth to dramatically increase their participation in youth engagement activities throughout the entire county;
- Expanding the Multnomah County Youth Council and including the City of Portland to make the youth commission a joint City-County policy body;
- Creating a two-year, community-wide project that created a Youth Bill of Rights, with more than 4,000 youth involved in the creation and implementation of the final document;
- Securing significant funding from the Youth Innovation Fund of the Kellogg Foundation. They gave the City of Portland and Multnomah County $325,000 over 4-years to support their countywide youth engagement work. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Youth Innovation Fund supported “diverse groups of young people, working in partnership with community institutions, to create civic innovations that address public issues and problems using a service-learning framework.”
- They trained a lot of people through their program.
According to youth and adults there, the City of Portland and Multnomah County still have issues in their youth development, youth engagement and youth/adult partnership work. However, the work of the Youth Commission has made great strides today and into the future that all communities worldwide can learn from!
You Might Also Like…
- First year report (2006) of the Youth Innovation Fund, including Portland.
- A 2011 Youth Engagement Report from the Portland/Multnomah Youth Commission.
- Multnomah County Youth Commission official website
- City of Portland Children and Youth Bill of Rights official website
- City of Portland Youth Planning Program
- City of Portland Youth Manual (made by youth!)
- Portland Public Schools Student Union
- Youth Empowered Action Camp
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