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.
In 2017-2018, MCYC youth leaders broke out into 4 committees to address the diverse issues facing Marin’s youth. These include:
- Housing – Research on organizations addressing housing and homelessness within the county revealed that there is very little youth representation in current housing efforts. This Committee is exploring campaign ideas, including creating focus group of young people across Marin to gather youth perspectives on the impacts of housing challenges on mental health, emotional health, social life, home life, and school experience, among others.
- 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. Based on this research, the Committee developed recommendations, such as creating on online portal where students can track their progress on requirements and hiring more counselors. These recommendations were presented to the Novato Unified School District; the committee intends to continue sharing their recommendations with school boards across Marin County.
- Social Justice – The first ever MCYC Social Justice Committee was established in 2017 and focused on developing a Social Justice curriculum focused on race and racism. The committee used this curriculum to train over 100 students on how to have difficult conversations about race and racism in their communities. The training could be offered to other young people and teachers who are interested in leading racial justice conversations with their students. This year, the committee will expand their reach by offering the training to elected officials and law enforcement officials.
- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Prevention (ATOD) – In partnership with Alcohol Justice, this Committee recently implemented a vaping awareness campaign, which shared educational materials with young people, educators, and parents at a school resource fair. This year, the committee secured a grant to expand their efforts on vaping and plan to broaden their scope of work, engaging more youth by hosting public meetings once a month where any and all are encouraged to attend. To join their campaign process and help develop change in the Marin community, check out the flyer below and come to their next meeting!
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.