Category Archives: Local Government

Creating a Welcoming & Connected City – @Philly311 Youth Engagement Program Graduation

Saying Goodbye

The final session and Philly311 YEP graduation ceremony was an emotional but enjoyable day. For the staff who created and implemented this program and worked with the participants ever week, it was bittersweet. It was incredible to review the program with the students and hear all the information the children had learned during the program and see how much their interest in local government had increased, but it was sad to say goodbye to our first YEP cohort.

The Impact

Overall, this program had a tremendous impact. For example, the interest in and awareness of the Junior Block Captain program increased. According to the survey we took after the final YEP session 35% of our participants showed interest in becoming a Junior Block Captain, in the pre-program survey we took on week one, only 29% were interested in this program. Additionally, after YEP, 96% of our students knew about Junior Block Captains, compared to 29% before the Philly311 youth program. One of our participants has already submitted his application to be a Junior Block Captain. This is only one example of how we have seen a real impact on the lives of these talented young people who want to make a difference in their community.

Another statistic that speaks to the success of YEP is that before our program only two students, 7% of participants, reported knowing what Philly311 was, and after YEP 96% of the students not only knew about the program but felt comfortable using our mobile app to submit requests.

The Final Session

We started off our last day on a light note. We knew that it was going to be a long day for the kids so we ate lunch together; pizza was provided by Philly311.

After the pizza party, we moved into the auditorium for the final presentations. The Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism (MOCEV) began the presentations, talking about the many benefits of volunteering. MOCEV explained the Waste Watchers initiative, which is when volunteers work big events in the city, such as the Philadelphia Marathon, to help attendees sort their trash into recycle, compost, and landfill. The students were able to sign-up for Waste Watchers on-site if they were interested.

The Philadelphia Youth Commission presented next. Explaining their history and what they do. The Youth Commission had an activity that demonstrated how some people naturally want to lead the group and others instinctively remain silent. They emphasized the importance of using your voice and informed the students that the Youth Commission was a great way to do that. The YEP participants could become Youth Commissioners as a way to use their voice to influence local political leaders. Both of the presentations were about empowering Philadelphia youth and encouraging civic pride and participation.

The Graduation Ceremony

Following the presentations, we moved on to formal remarks. I spoke about the importance of this program, thanking the students and all of our fantastic partners: Education Works, Police Explorers, Junior Block Captains, Urban Affairs Coalition, ASAP, Fun Safe Philly Summer, Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, and the Youth Commission, who were presenters and volunteered at almost all of the five sessions to help supervise and facilitate the program. I am so appreciative of my staff and to our partners for making this program a reality.

I then introduced Daniel Ramos, Community Engagement Coordinator. He presented before and after pictures of the issues that the students submitted on the first day of YEP and talked about how they were completed and how much better it looks now. His presentation reminded the students what a real difference the students made in this neighborhood. He encouraged them to keep it up, if someone does graffiti on that wall again, report it, if another storm blows down a large tree, submit a request – this is how we keep our city beautiful.

Gabriela Raczka, Communications Director for Customer Service, spoke about how she was honored to participate and get to know these bright young people. She worked on organizing the speakers and attended each session. She felt that it was a very meaningful experience for everyone involved. Gabriela hoped the students learned valuable information from the program. Daniel Ramos spoke again briefly, about how the program came together and how wonderful the students were. He also spoke briefly about his experience growing up in difficult circumstances and how he was able to turn his life around to help make this city a better place.

Councilwoman Maria Quinonez Sanchez joined us for the graduation ceremony. She delivered remarks about how pleased she was this program took place in her district. She told the students how she is deeply invested in the wellbeing of the community and really appreciates all the issues the YEP participants helped to resolve. After Councilwoman Sanchez spoke, we presented the students with their certificates of achievement, signed by the Mayor and myself, and took photos of each YEP student holding their certificate with the Councilwoman, myself, and the Education Works Site Coordinator, Jasmine Council.

Miles Wilson,Executive Director of Education Works, also joined us for the day. He delivered touching remarks about how the program clearly meant a lot to the children and how they were very engaged. He was particularly impressed with how the students interacted with him immediately, even though it was his first day meeting most of them. He told the students he was proud of them and encouraged them to take the information they learned and put it to good use, to keep in touch with the many connections they made from different organizations, and to stay focused.

The graduation closed with remarks from Laiya, radio personality from 107.9, who told the children how great it was that they learned how to report issues to 311 and what a great job they did helping to improve their community.

The entire day was celebratory and inspirational. I am thrilled at what we accomplished with this program and am looking to the future hoping we can continue this great work to empower and educate young Philadelphians.

Stay tuned for more updates about the Youth Engagement Program and contact Gabriela Raczka, Gabriela.raczka@phila.gov if you would like to be involved in future Philly311 YEP programming or activities.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement in both public and private sectors.

Creating a Smart and Connected City

Once only a fascinating speculation of science fiction, smart cities are not only becoming a reality but are now vitally imminent as well. As our population grows with more and more people moving into the cities, a tremendous load is placed upon the city centers, calling for a dire need to expand our resources and services. The local government especially faces this challenge in terms of dispensing its services effectively and ensuring smart governance decisions. However modern day technology with its information exchange has been especially helpful for municipal bodies, providing the answer in the form of smart communities.

A smart and connected community shares an efficient virtual platform with the local government, giving instant access to services in real time. Primarily, a connected community helps you in using your city’s infrastructure more efficiently by having access to real time information related to traffic, road routes etc, engages you in communication with the local government to provide quick access to services as well as increases the efficiency of local governance by improvement through customer feedback. This way, the government is better able to respond to the challenges of a bigger community through the emergence of a constant feedback which helps grow the city’s intelligence.

Information may be dispensed to the users through efficient apps which connect the residents with the local government. Residents can lodge requests and complaints with the local government and have access to information related to security, climate, education, waste management, healthcare etc. For many people, such a platform would in fact be an eye-opener in terms of the vast array of services provided by the government which they were not even aware of!

And it is not only the residents who benefit from a smart community, but the government employees as well; experts are connected in this centralized environment which helps maximize their knowledge base and reach. Moreover, the centralization and accessibility of resources equips both the government and residents to deal better with emergencies as well. A smart community is an effective solution for making our cities more livable, it is a key to the citizens’ satisfaction.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement 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.