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Louisville Metro looks to boost civic engagement with new Youth Cabinet

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Young people interested in getting involved in community work and policymaking can now apply to be part of Louisville Metro’s 26-member Youth Cabinet.

The new program, funded for two years through federal pandemic relief, is aimed at getting youth between the ages of 16 and 24 engaged in politics and government. Members of the Youth Cabinet will work on philanthropic projects, map available resources in their communities and work with their Metro Council representatives on crafting policies. Outside of the age requirement, applicants must live in Louisville, be able to attend twice-monthly meetings and serve for at least one year.

Javoughn Brown-Lewis, youth engagement specialist with Louisville’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, said the Youth Cabinet will provide an opportunity to engage a part of the community that has become politically disaffected.

“With local government going directly to youth saying, ‘We want to hear what you want to say,’ that is very powerful,” he said. “That will allow youth to believe in their council members and local, state and national government, to become more civically engaged and say, ‘This isn’t something we just reap the consequences of, but we can actually make change.’”

The program is being administered by the Youth Engagement Services Team, or YES!, within OSHN. Officials hope the Youth Cabinet members will start holding meetings by mid-November. 

In addition to civic education opportunities and community projects, Brown-Lewis said the Youth Cabinet program will also provide city officials with a way to get input from young people on crafting policies that address poverty, equity and the gun violence crisis.

“Hopefully that transfers down the line into the future of Louisville,” Brown-Lewis said. “As we create more civically engaged youth, that means more civically engaged citizens.”

Anyone interested in joining the Youth Cabinet can apply online through Oct. 15. Participants will receive a yearly stipend of $1,000 to cover the costs of attending meetings and working on community projects.

Louisville’s Youth Engagement Services Team is also responsible for setting up 15-member neighborhood youth boards in each of the city’s 26 Metro Council Districts. The team hopes to launch that program in early January, according to Brown-Lewis.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

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Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.