Back to School Update: Mayors Partner to Promote Civic Learning and Citizen Development
August 24, 2023
Bipartisan group of mayors release report highlighting civic education partnerships between city governments, schools, and community partners
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Mayors Alliance released a new report, Students to Citizens, that details ways that mayors in Ohio cities are engaging students to learn about how city government impacts their lives and communities. The report, which was spearheaded by members of OMA’s Education Advocacy Leadership Committee, provides summaries of programs that bring mayors, schools leaders, and community partners together with students and youth to help them understand how local governments and local elected officials work with citizens and the community in a representative democracy.
“We believe that responsive, engaged, bipartisan local government is key to a strong and effective representative democracy, and we hope that sharing these programs and successes will illustrate ways that cities can ensure that children and youth grow into actively engaged citizens of their local communities,” said Peggy Lehner, Mayor of Kettering and Co-Chair of the Education Advocacy Leadership Committee.
The Ohio Mayors Alliance will maintain information about these and other similar programs in its cities on its website, www.ohiomayorsalliance.org, and will add to the information as more cities share and publicize their work to engage youth and preserve local democracy. This report will serve as a catalyst for further work to expand and support civic learning partnerships between cities, schools, and community groups across Ohio, at the direction of the Education Advocacy Leadership Committee and with a goal of finding and implementing a statewide support system for such programming.
“We want youth who participate to develop stronger bonds with their home cities, grow into community leaders, get involved in policy making, and hopefully be inspired to pursue careers in public service,” said Frank Whitfield, Mayor of Elyria and Co-Chair of the Education Advocacy Leadership Committee. “Sharing this report is our first step toward challenging all Ohio mayors to step up and commit to getting involved in at least one local civic learning program in collaboration with their local schools and community groups.”
Among the programs highlighted in the report are:
- Elyria’s Mayor for a Day program, where Mayor Frank Whitfield spends a day with an elementary age student from a local school, taking them along to meetings and other events.
- Toledo’s Kid Mayor and Kid Council program, where Mayor Wade Kapszukewicz works with two local public school districts to identify students to serve on Kid Council, and elect a Kid Mayor, for a year.
- Fairfield’s Mayor’s Youth Commission, a program started by Mayor Mitch Rhodus in partnership with the Fairfield City School District to identify high school age students to serve with and advise the mayor on local policy decisions.
- Dayton’s Get Out the Teen Vote project, which was started by Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims and other Montgomery County Black elected officials to celebrate and encourage 17 and 18 year olds to vote.
- Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan’s Youth Leadership Council in Akron, which engages Akron high school youth to learn about city government, organize public service projects, and meet and connect with community organizations and leaders.
- Strongsville’s Youth Commission, which has been so popular since its inception in 2002 that Strongsville City Council had to pass an ordinance to limit its high school age participants to 15, with four adult mentors, to keep the numbers manageable for city council and Mayor Tom Perciak.
The Ohio Mayors Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of mayors in Ohio’s 30 largest cities. For more information, please visit: OhioMayorsAlliance.org.