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City Hall, Schools and Communities: Partnerships to Promote Youth Development.

Cities have a stake in educating all youth, both in and out of school. This was the message to more than 500 delegates who attended the workshop, "Schools, Communities and City Hall," on December 3, 1999 during the 76th annual NLC Congress of Cities held in Los Angeles. Alderman Patrick O'Connor, chaff of the City of Chicago's Education Committee and a member of NLC's Youth, Education and Families Council, chaired the panel discussion featuring Laura Kohn, Director of Education for the City of Seattle; Tony Perez, Director of the Milwaukee Community Service Corps; and RaySean Scott, a member of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

Seattle, Wash.

Seattle has formed a unique partnership with the Seattle public schools by creating a Director of Education position that is housed in the mayor's office. Laura Kohn, who currently holds this position, acts as a liaison between the office of Seattle Mayor Paul Schell and the school district, and works to promote collaboration that includes shining facilities and programs that support youth and families.

Responding to a "crisis in confidence" in the Seattle schools during the early 1990's, former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice hosted a series of education summits to hear firsthand from students, parents and other community leaders about how to improve public education.

In Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Community Service Corps (MCSC) offers young adults a paycheck in exchange for performing community service work in a structured environment that emphasizes teamwork and leadership development. MCSC identifies community needs and tackles them head-on, in the spirit of the 1930's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

MCSC Executive Director Tony Perez described the partnership between MCSC and the City of Milwaukee's public housing authority. The housing authority wanted to modernize one of its public housing sites and use the project to benefit housing residents. MCSC recruited housing authority residents and completed the replacement of 1,500 basement well windows. Through paid community service work, MCSC not only trains and employs 18-23 year old Milwaukee youth, but also leaves a legacy of quality work completed in neighborhoods across the city.

Tony Perez, director of MCSC, congratulated NLC on their involvement with young people. "This organization has the progressive thinking that youth need to be front and center."

RaySean Scott, Youth Corps Member and Program Specialist with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC), shared his life stow to show how important it is for programs like LACC to exist. After leading a hard life that included gang activity and jail time, Scott was determined to turn his life around. He found a new beginning with the LACC. "Regardless of where I came from, this is what I'm doing now. I'm proud to be here. I'm working to better myself. If you apply yourself and believe in yourself, you can do anything," RaySean declared, to a standing ovation.

Now a graffiti removal specialist and van driver for LACC, RaySean Scott says he takes pride in knowing he and other young people are making a difference in their communities, and gaining an education at the same time.

RaySean Scott called on local officials and communities to collaborate so more young people have opportunities to "apply yourself and believe in yourself." Cities have the need for young people to be involved and resources to contribute to positive youth development.

Details: To learn more about NLC's work to promote collaboration between city government and schools, or to request a copy of NLC's publication, "Cities & Schools: Partners for Children and Families," New Directions for Cities, Families, and Children, 1997, contact John Kyle, at NLC, (202) 626-3030 or email: kyle@nlc.org. For more information about youth service corps or how to start one in your city, contact the National Association of Service & Conservation Corps, 666 Eleventh Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20001 or email: nascc@nascc.org.

Kayla Boettcher is an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow working with the League of Minnesota Cities.
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Author:Boettcher, Kayla
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 20, 1999
Words:649
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