Getting kids involved in local government – Philly311 Youth Engagement Program Kick-off

I am happy to report that we have officially hosted two very successful sessions of our Youth Engagement Program (Y.E.P). On Thursday, July 16, 2015, we launched our first session. The session was dedicated to what Philly311 is and how young people can use it as tool to better their communities. Daniel Ramos, our Community Engagement Coordinator, focused on teaching the students about Philly311’s mobile app. After Daniel’s lesson students were able to take our mobile app into the field and report issues.

Prior to the session we passed around a survey asking students if they were familiar with Philly311, and what they knew about City government. It was important for us to gauge their understanding. What we could learn about what they know is just as important as the information we are teaching. Asking for their input, and what they wanted to learn, will be an asset when we consider future youth programming.

As you can imagine, the responses to our survey questions were all over the board, but for the most part mentioned education, trash collection, and snow removal. Some of the students had no idea what local government did, and wrote on our survey that they would like to know what city government is. The most common response, when we asked what the children would like to learn from this program, was how they can make a difference in their community.

That’s a powerful question: How can I make a difference in my community? The mobile app is one of the many ways anyone can directly influence their surroundings. Using the mobile app, they were able to their report pertinent information about their neighborhood. After our first session, the students submitted a total of 25 service requests. The issue reported the most was graffiti, followed by illegal dumping. It goes to show how educating youth about municipal services can inspire younger citizens.

Last Thursday, at the second Y.E.P session, the Police Explorers Cadet Program presented their program to the Y.E.P students. Twelve Cadets and three officers came to Harding Middle School and talked about how the Explores program works to get young people ready for the academy. Through hard work, including 300 hours of community service and 700 hours of training, the Police Explorers program helps prepare young people who want to go into any kind of law enforcement or paramilitary career. The Police Officers talked to the Y.E.P students about how an officers job is more than just catching a bad guy, and includes helping people, educating them about the law, and preventing crime from happening.

The Cadets each spoke about why they joined this program and what they have received from it. During one particularly moving moment, all of the Y.E.P children stood up and talked with the cadets. It was great to see them all interacting. There is a great need across the country to build stronger, trusting relationships between the community and the police. This presentation was incredibly valuable for the youth. We hope that series and our partners continue to bring value to our students.

Want to know more about who we are partnering with? Follow us on Facebook for photos and updates from the program each week. Please visit, like, and share the Philly311 Youth Engagement page with your networks. We want to get the word out about the great work we are doing with the Education Works Summer Program.

I hope that you will stay tuned and keep up with this program as it progresses. This program will continue to grow and we are observing where we have room to improve in the future. But, so far, I am very pleased with its progress.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Service Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience, Contact Center Operations, Social Media, and Community Engagement management in both public and private sectors.

Creating a Welcoming & Connected City: 311 Youth Engagement Program

A few weeks ago I posed a challenge to my Philly311 Customer Service Programs and Engagement Strategist, Amanda V. Wagner: Create a program that encourages young people to be civically involved. Amanda leads the Philly311 Customer Service Programs and Strategies Unit which is responsible for Philly311’s customer service innovative programs and communications.

She was excited by the idea; however creating the program would be a challenge within itself. Daniel Ramos, Philly311’s Community Engagement Coordinator managed a similar program in the past with the 311 Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program. The experience that Daniel acquired during the 311 Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program would shape what recently became the Youth Engagement Program.

At the core of Philly311’s philosophy is one simple idea. Philly311 connects citizens to city services and resources, and there is a plethora of city services available to people outside of what citizens see on a daily basis. We want to educate adults about those city related services, and especially kids who could benefit most from it. I strongly believe that by being able to engage young talent early we can leave have a positive impression on our profession, help include and engage them to be part of the process to solve problems in their neighborhood and we may influence them to consider a career in government as a profession.

I am proud of one of the organizations we have partnered with on the youth program, After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP). ASAP works to serve the 45,000 kids citywide that spend an average of “20-25 hours a week alone after school between 3pm and 6pm, the most dangerous time of day for youth according to the Police Department.” Organizations like ASAP are a huge resource to citizens and meet a significant need in the community.

The Philly311 Youth Engagement Program (Y.E.P) kicks off in July for five week sessions. Y.E.P’s programming will teach a group of early middle school kids how to interact with Philly311, including a discussion on our award winning mobile app, and how to engage with community resources. Y.E.P has partnered with several City of Philadelphia affiliated youth programs to provide a well-rounded roster of opportunities. Under the supervision of Amanda V. Wagner, and Director of Communications for Philly311, Gabriela Raczka, the program has created long lasting alliances with our community partners.

I am grateful for a great Philly311 team that shares my passion for government customer service, and I’m looking forward to the feedback we’ll receive and the impact the program will create for the children of Philadelphia.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Service Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience, Contact Center Operations, Social Media, and Community Engagement management in both public and private sectors.

City of Philadelphia 311 Named 2015 UN Public Service Award Finalist

I am honored and excited that the City of Philadelphia Philly311 Contact Center was named a finalist for the prestigious international 2015 United Nations Public Service Award in the category of “Improving the Delivery of Public Services.”

We have grown so much from our days as a startup organization serving 1.5 million residents, businesses, and visitors. The journey has had its challenges, but every step of the way we have learned something valuable about our operations. Today we have revolutionized the traditional 311 operations through a customer centric model. We are changing the culture of city government to be more collaborative, connected, and welcoming.

Philly311 knows that to deliver impeccable services we must meet our customers where they are. Knowing this, we have modernized our system through a new customer relationship management solution, and have taken large strides in connecting with our customers through social media and visual messaging.

In addition to a wide variety of community engagement initiatives we are very proud of our efforts seen through the 311 Neighborhood Liaison program, which has expanded and doubled within the last few years. Philly311 is also the first in the nation to have a mobile app with dynamic language capabilities accessible in 17 different languages.

Hats off to the leadership that provided guidance through our journey, and the United Nations Committee of Experts in Public Administration. And of course, we can’t go without thanking our customers, partners, vendors, staff, and city administration for their ongoing support. We see your support everyday when you connect with us through social media, on our world-class mobile app, and through our many other platforms.

Thanks for helping us raise the bar in customer experience excellence in government.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Service Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience, Contact Center Operations, Social Media, and Community Engagement management in both public and private sectors.