Young Taoseños Get Involved in Community Decisions by Digging Into Local Politics
- Local Champion: TK1
- Date Funded: May 23, 2022
- Grant Amount: $30,000
During the 2022 Taos mayoral race, Taos teens led a candidate forum as part of their involvement with True Kids 1 (TK1), a youth media education nonprofit that encourages civic engagement. The TK1 forum proved to not only be one of the highlights of mayoral coverage, but it was also a bright spot in getting youth involved in local decision-making. Community members and elected officials have voiced increased concerns about the exclusion of youth in community decisions, especially because those decisions—about things like access to educational opportunities, workforce development programs, housing, and healthcare—are likely to have a significant impact on young people’s desire and ability to stay in Taos as adults. But city and TK1 staff members had an idea for how to help solve this problem: Launch a pilot program in which students work with elected officials to research and report on local issues as part of a video series that also would serve as an education piece for the public. The thinking is that because youth occupy a neutral space in the community, they are able to ask elected leaders tough questions and get answers and explanations in plain language that both they and the larger community can understand. So this program not only provides young people with greater understanding of the issues that affect them—but also a an avenue to engage in community decisions. LOR’s funding will support student stipends, training, and some equipment.