The Fresno Youth Commission was established in February 2016, thanks to the powerful advocacy efforts of YLI’s Boys and Men of Color. The story was covered by reporter Laura Baker, of yli’s Fresno youth media hub, the kNOw.
The establishment of this Youth Commission is HUGE! Youth Commissions are the voice of youth in local government. A recognized entity of city government, the Fresno Youth Commission is responsible for advising Fresno City Council and the Mayor on policies and laws related to young people. The Commission is also charged with providing comments and recommendations on all proposed laws that would primarily affect youth before the council takes any final actions. It is a key platform for bringing youth voice to the decision-making table.
The first Commission, launched in April 2016, was comprised of 16 young people — 2 representatives for each of Fresno’s 7 city council districts, and 2 at-large members appointed by the Mayor. Over the past two years, the Commissioners have focused on youth unemployment, garnering major wins for youth and their families. These include:
- Council allocating $50,000 to fund 30 paid City internships for youth ages 16-21.
- Establishing a Youth Jobs Task Force that brings representatives from the public and private sectors together to identify employment opportunities for youth. The story was shared on yli’s blog.
- District 5 Youth Commissioners were given $5,000 by their Councilman to fund Youth Serving organizations that are doing great work in their district.
- Fundraised $30,000 in partnership with the Mayor to provide free swimming lessons to 750 youth throughout Fresno.
In recognition of this incredible work, the City of Fresno Youth Commission was selected among Youth Commissions across the state to receive the Helen Putnam award through the California League of Cities in September 2018.
Interested in serving as a Commissioner? Commissioners are appointed by the Fresno City Council for 2-year terms. Interested Fresno youth, ages 15-21, may apply – positions are currently open!! All youth are welcome to participate, but only appointed commissioners can vote. Commissioners are expected to attend an annual day-long retreat, followed by bi-monthly meetings during the school year. At least 10 hours of participation in community events is also required.