I’m happy to report that we have officially hosted two very successful sessions of our Youth Engagement Program (YEP). 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 as City services. 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.
Yesterday, at the second YEP session, the Police Explorers Cadet Program presented their program to the YEP 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 YEP 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 YEP 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 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.