Youth Advisory Councils - Involving Youth in Your Affiliate Leadership
There are millions of teens and young adults around the globe who are interested in getting involved and making a difference. Sure, they may choose their phones and use social media as their platform, but it doesn't mean they are any less powerful or important than the rest of us. Take for example Mexican born activist Xiye Bastida, who in just one year has brought together more than 300,000 youth from every continent to support her movement on climate change. In April, this 18-year-old was an important part of EarthXWomen and shared some powerful ideas! Need an example closer to home? How about KTB Award winner Soham Datar, this valedictorian and National Merit Scholar still found time to volunteer four years with Keep Baytown Beautiful and became their first youth board member? These impressive youth are not alone, and if you ask the young adults in your community, you might just find some passionate teens of your own!
What is a YAC?
A Youth Advisory Council, or YAC, is made up of local youth from your community who participate in your organizational leadership. YACs can be called a council, committee or board and most are comprised of local middle, high school and college students. To belong to a YAC, youth must apply and often go through an interview process. This can be a very strong item to add to a CV or college application so make it competitive and prestigious for those involved.
Young adults on a YAC usually serve a one to two-year term and sign an agreement stating they will provide a certain amount of volunteer hours, meet regularly with the group, participate in a certain number of events and possibly serve on a separate sub-committee. YACs can be associated with the city or county as a whole, a specific department or even a non-profit group, such as a KTB affiliate. A YAC really is what you make of it and can be a strong benefit to your organization. Keep reading to see how and where you can learn more!
Benefits of a YAC
The Texas Municipal League YAC Guide described it best when it stated that, "The benefit of YACs works both ways. Youth have an outlet to affect change in their community and have a place to interact with their peers and adults on issues of importance. On the flip side, the city creates an outlet to not only engage youth but to harness their energy and ideas." Young adults can bring many talents and extra volunteer hands to assist your affiliate. Sure, they are great at updating your website, running social media campaigns and troubleshooting your tech issues, but don't just assume that is the extent of their worth. Many are highly connected and involved in their school, church or civic group and can help you get the word out, provide community education and run important programs throughout the community. They are also great public speakers and can lend a powerful voice and intergenerational message to your organization.
Another benefit of involving youth in your organizational leadership is that you can help mold future views and passion for community involvement. Young adults need volunteer hours, diverse experiences and mentoring to get them to the next level in their education or just life in general. A few young adults on your team will also encourage others to follow, compounding your youth involvement. The greatest benefit is that these teens will eventually grow up and become adult community members with families of their own and can help continue the legacy and keep your affiliate going for decades to come!
Upcoming YAC Webinar
Peaked your interest? Have more questions? Join us for a free webinar to learn more about the youth advisory council and how to create one in your community. Special guests Vicki Gist of Keep Sugar Land Beautiful and Angela Beniss of Keep Tyler Beautiful will share their experience working with their own successful programs.
The hour-long webinar will begin at 12:00 pm (CST) on Thursday, June 18, 2020. This webinar is open to everyone and you can register here. We look forward to hosting you and helping to bring youth leadership to your community!
For additional YAC resources, you can explore this guide by Keep Brownsville Beautiful or check out the award-winning group from the Lake Jackson Youth Advisory Commission. This group of young adults recently won the KTB Youth Organization Award. A few additional YACs within our affiliate network include the Rowlett Youth Advisory Council, Lake Dallas Youth Advisory Council, Waco Youth Council and Pflugerville Youth Advisory Council.
Blog Post written by Karen Maldonado, Program Coordinator