With young people in Georgia and around the country organizing to end gun violence and tackling issues in their communities, candidate for governor and former House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams pledges to create a formal role for young voices in the executive branch by establishing the Governor’s Youth Council. The Council will be a diverse, representative body comprised of middle school and high school youth from across the state.
“Georgia’s young people have a boundless capacity to succeed if we invest sufficiently in their outcomes,” said candidate for governor and former House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams. “Youth have been on the frontlines of critical fights in our state – they are our civil rights leaders, our DREAMers, and our gun safety advocates. The Governor’s Youth Council will be critical as I seek to build a new Georgia, one that uplifts every community and finds bold new solutions to the issues Georgians face.”
The Governor’s Youth Council will be tasked with the following priorities, in cooperation with the governor’s office:
• Identifying key policy areas for youth civic engagement and policy input;
• Creating robust summer jobs programs that offer paid employment for Georgia’s youth, a key part of economic development and entrepreneurship;
• Conducting direct outreach to youth in their communities; and
• Hosting youth town halls across Georgia on current issues of interest.
To support the Youth Council, the governor’s office will:
• Train and mentor youth council members on policymaking, organizing, and public engagement;
• Guarantee youth appointments to the Georgia Children’s Cabinet;
• Hire a full-time dedicated staff person to administer the Council, with a commitment that staff person is under the age of 25 at the time of hire;
• Secure technology options to reach youth across the state and allow them to broaden their impact; and
• Provide stipends and transportation funds for youth travel.
Abrams knows the value of youth voices, the power of having a seat at the table and the importance of bringing young people into the process. At the age of 18, she led student activism at Spelman College and was later hired as one of two student employees in Mayor Maynard Jackson’s Office of Youth Services. There, she focused on gang prevention and youth civic engagement efforts. As a part of the Ford Foundation project on youth poverty in 1992, she co-authored a report on how young voices could shape social reform. Abrams worked with the AFL-CIO Youth Support Group to mobilize students to attend the 30th Anniversary March on Washington and was a youth speaker at the 1993 March.
Several local governments in Georgia have created a range of youth councils and programs to engage and empower young adults in policymaking, including Columbus, Pine Lake, Dublin, Macon-Bibb, Savannah, Tybee Island, and Valdosta.
See the full policy here.