Founded in 1969, the Marin County Youth Commission (MCYC) is one of the oldest and most well-regarded youth commissions in the United States. Made up of 23 youth aged 12-23 years, MCYC’s goal is to act as a political voice for young people — particularly those in underserved populations, including youth of color, youth with disabilities, homeless youth, rural youth, and LGBTQ youth — by engaging with the Marin County Board of Supervisors and other policy makers.
Ruby Ray Clarke
At the beginning of each term, MCYC youth leaders identify issues about which they are passionate and meet with community organizations to learn about ongoing efforts to address these issues. They then organize and implement social justice campaigns, which may look like drafting public policy; engaging other youth through trainings and events; and/or conducting community-wide education.
During the 2020-2021 MCYC term, MCYC subcommittees accomplished the following:
Mental Health – This year, the Mental Health subcommittee worked on developing our Instagram account and growing our social media following (be sure to follow us at @marinmentalhealth!). We created and hosted the 2021 Youth Mental Health Summit, in partnership with National Alliance on Mental Illness Marin, Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, Kara Connors with Suicide Prevention Collaborative and the Board of Supervisors Intern Team. The virtual event brought together 50 youth, aged 14-20 from 22 different schools across Marin and 2 from the greater Bay Area. Participants learned about demystifying mental health, self care, and intersectionality in mental health and were trained in suicide prevention. Kelechi Ubozo, a suicide attempt survivor and mental health advocate, was our powerful special guest. You can read more about this successful event in this Letter to the Editor, written by Commissioners Colette Holcomb and Scarlett Goh for the Marin Independent Journal.
Education Equity – The Education Equity committee decided to focus their efforts on bringing Ethnic Studies to Marin County. After gathering research and gaining valuable insight through meeting with Ethnic Studies educators, the committee developed a resolution with the goal of presenting it to the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) for formal adoption. The resolution calls on MCOE to assist school districts in implementing some form of Ethnic Studies education. To aid their advocacy efforts, the committee developed a petition that currently has more than 200 supporters (sign the petition here!). The petition has also created pathways to partner with other districts and organizations who are interested in advocating for Ethnic Studies.
Racial Equity – This subcommittee strives to create ideas for a more equitable society. After the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, youth felt it necessary to educate youth and teachers about the BIPOC experience in Marin. This year, they planned, hosted, and facilitated virtual Talk Circles for about 25 students of color around Marin to talk about their experiences on campus. They also spent subcommittee meetings processing current events in a safe environment. Additionally, the committee focused on building the capacity of teachers to hold safe spaces in their classrooms. They presented to 20 teachers across 2 districts on ways to support BIPOC students by addressing microaggressions in the classroom. Following the presentation, 8 teachers emailed us for a copy of the slides or a recording of the video to use in their own classrooms.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Prevention (ATOD) – This year the ATOD subcommittee’s goal was to educate the Marin community on substance use and the risks through educational presentations. ATOD worked closely with the Spahr Center to deliver Narcan trainings. Through the train the trainers model, commissioners learned how to administer Narcan and then trained about 50 community members including giving trainings in Spanish. The ATOD committee also partnered with the Youth Advocacy Council (YAC) of the Marin Prevention Network, held 2 Narcan distributions, held a county wide event to address substance use in Marin, and led a tobacco litter pick-up. Other partnerships included supporting policy work with the Smoke Free Marin Coalition.
Next year, we want to focus on building out a parent engagement component of MCYC, connecting with other county commissions and developing a quarterly newsletter that better shares our work with the community.
Interested in Joining Up?
Commissioners are appointed by the Board of Supervisors in July for 1-year terms. All Marin County residents between the ages of 12-21 years are eligible — ethnically and culturally diverse youth are highly encouraged to apply. Commissioners are expected to attend a 1-day Intro to Social Justice Training, followed by bi-monthly meetings. Occasional events, like the Social Justice Movie Night and Youth Commission Convention, are additional requirements. Tune in for updates on when to apply!