Civic Spring: Giving Youth a Voice

Groundwork Elizabeth was one of only 6 organizations spread across the US to be awarded a CIVIC SPRING grant by the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, to fund a program to give our Youth a voice in decisions which are made in our community. Partners included the City of Elizabeth, Mayor Chris Bollwage, Union County, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth, Lifelong Elizabeth, Gateway Family YMCA, Harbor Consultants, the Board of Education for Elizabeth Public Schools and Shaping Elizabeth.

How did we do this? 

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on communities all across the world. Elizabeth, N.J. is one of them.  Every ten years municipalities in New Jersey review their policies and programs to adjust to current events.  The City of Elizabeth is in the process of developing their 10 year Master Plan, including development, transportation, housing, and community health. Our goal for the Civic Spring grant opportunity is was to position our Groundwork Youth team, which is made up of a team of diverse youth aged 14-24, to take a leadership position to work with members of those who make decisions about community health, specifically issues related to COVID-19 and other possible disease outbreaks.  We provided opportunities for youth voices to coordinate suggestions that can mitigate the effects of this pandemic and propose solutions for policies that will prepare the community for probable similar experiences while educating them about the difference that civic actions can make. This is the first step in giving our Youth a legacy seat at positions that create policies for our community.