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 2018-2019 MCYC term, commissioners will be focusing on the following issues areas:
Mental Health – Youth in Marin are experiencing alarming rates of mental health crises. In order to address this issue, the MCYC’s first-ever Mental Health Committee is planning a forum to bring together youth, mental health service providers, school and county officials, and the broader Marin Community to identify the gaps in services for youth. They have also participated in county-wide suicide prevention efforts.
Education Equity – Building on work begun in 2016-17, this Committee surveyed high schoolers to measure their understanding and knowledge of A-G requirements. Students must fulfill these basic requirements in order to apply to public universities in California. This year, they have partnered with the Marin Equity Coalition to encourage schools to align the high school graduation rates with the A-G requirements.
Social Justice – Established in 2017, MCYC’s first-ever Social Justice Committee developed a Social Justice curriculum focused on race and racism. Since then, the committee has used this curriculum to train over 500 students on how to have difficult conversations about race and racism in their communities. This year, the committee will expand their reach by offering the training to elected officials and law enforcement.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Prevention (ATOD) – After securing a grant to expand their efforts on vaping, the Committee began hosting public meetings as a way to increase the number of students involved and become more representative of Marin County youth. Together, the group surveyed students and held roundtable discussions around school response to youth e-cigarette use, the (school) language that currently exists to address it, and how policies could be improved. Based on these findings, the Committee created a Resolution document addressed to Marin County Office of Education along with a list of accompanying Recommendations.
Sexual Health and Wellness – Through surveying high school students and community members, the Sexual Health and Wellness Committee is working to better understand the current state of sexual health and wellness courses while creating a dialogue around consent and sexual assault. Based on this data, the committee will provide recommendations on how school districts can create a more inclusive and holistic education regarding sex education and health.
Recent campaign accomplishments include:
- In 2017, MCYC organized the first ever Youth Commission Convention, bringing together youth commissioners from across the state to: 1) share best practices, leveraging each other’s experiences and lessons learned; 2) build community and network across regions; and, 3) receive a legislative advocacy training. MCYC is now working with the San Mateo Youth Commission to organize the second annual Convention, with the long-term vision of creating a statewide network of youth commissions that can advocate on state-level issues.
- In 2017, MCYC helped to pass Social Host Ordinances in the city of Novato and county-wide that included a restorative justice approach for youth caught drinking and/or using illegal substances, covered in this Marin Independent Journal article and this YLI blog post.
- In February 2018, the Marin County Office of Education hosted a 2-day leadership summit for over 100 students from 8 public schools across Marin. MCYC youth leaders and their adult allies were invited to facilitate 6, 90-minute trainings, exploring how racism operates in Marin and the US.
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.