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Boston's Youth Engagement & Employment Team Travels to Guangzhou, China to Compete in Urban Innovation Competition

December 1, 2014

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Today Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the City of Boston’s Youth Engagement & Employment Department’s involvement in an Urban Innovation competition in Guangzhou, China. The competition focuses on initiatives that best incorporate innovation, civic engagement, community improvement, and sustainability.

“I am impressed by what young people are able to accomplish in Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “Young people are full of potential once you give them the tools they need to engage in community-based initiatives that they care about. There will be students who visit a revitalized park or see laptops in Boston Public Schools classrooms, and they can say, ‘I helped make this happen.’ Positive change happens when youth people speak up.”

The City of Guangzhou in China is hosting a conference around Urban Innovation. For the Award in Urban Innovation, over 250 initiatives were submitted from around the world. Boston’s Youth Lead the Change initiative is the only initiative from the United States selected as one of the 15 finalists invited to take part in the competition.

In June 2014, Mayor Walsh announced the launch of Youth Lead the Change: Participatory Budgeting Boston to engage Boston residents between the ages of 12 to 25 in deciding how $1 million of Boston's capital budget will be allocated. Young Boston residents submitted potential project ideas, which then were reviewed by community activists and leaders, and city officials to develop formal proposals for the final ballot.

The City of Boston is now engaging in its second year of a participatory budgeting, a  process called ‘Youth Lead the Change.’ This past summer, Mayor Walsh joined youth from all over Boston in announcing the nation’s first-ever youth participatory budgeting process. Boston youth engaged in a democratic, educational process centered around the City’s budget and assessing capital projects.

Community members and young people from all neighborhoods came together to develop ideas and propose how $1 million should be spent to improve their City.

“We constantly talk about future leaders when we discuss young people, but our young people have the ability to lead today,”  said Shari Davis, Executive Director of Youth Engagement & Employment. “Let’s provide them with the tools and the platforms so that young people can sharpen their skills, take ownership of civic projects and see real change happen.” Davis is an alumnus of the Mayors Youth Council.

“Young people in Boston made Youth Lead the Change the success that it is,” said Francesco Tena, Manager of the Mayor’s Youth Council. “It is such an honor to represent Boston in another country and carry-out Mayor Walsh’s vision on connecting the youth to more opportunities.”

Davis and Tena will compete against 15 other cities in hopes of making the list of top five initiatives. The general public has influence on this competition. Individuals can vote to support Youth Lead the Change by visiting http://121.8.226.156/en/poll/onlinepolularcity.aspx. Click on Boston and hit “VOTE” to submit your online vote to support Youth Lead the Change.