Portland Youth Council

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Background to the Creation of the Portland Youth Council

In the summer of 2019, the City of Portland participated for the first time in the Gateway to Opportunity (G20) program, a collaboration of the Youth and Community Engagement Department at the University of Southern Maine and Goodwill Northern New England. The G20 participants, who spent 6 weeks at City Hall, were all seniors or newly graduated from Deering, Portland, and Casco Bay High Schools and were supervised by a senior at USM and the City of Portland's Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Specialist.

The City of Portland identified the need to create a youth council that will serve in an advisory role to the City of Portland’s City Council, providing the Portland Youth Council members a genuine voice on pressing and complex issues of importance to our city's youth. The G20 participants devoted their summer to creating the framework for this Youth Council, including determining what the membership criteria, goals, and application should look like. They also conducted a survey of Portland youth to identify issues of critical importance to youth residing in our city, ultimately identifying complex issues including drug and alcohol abuse, teen homelessness, and climate change.

The Youth Council will consist of 13 youth residing in Portland between the ages of 14 and 18, including two members from each of Portland’s geographical districts and three members at large. The City hopes for a diverse membership of youth representing private and public schools, homeless teens, and homeschooled students, all of whom will serve one-year terms that we anticipate launching in October 2019.