New York, N.Y. – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer today congratulated Gov. Cuomo and State Legislators on a new law allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to serve on local Community Boards – and announced a recruitment drive to attract young people to this new opportunity to have a voice in civic affairs.
The law signed by the Governor stems from legislation introduced by Gale Brewer into the City Council and years of her work promoting youth leadership.
“I have had the honor of working with literally hundreds of interns over the years and have seen first-hand the meaningful role that young people can play in shaping policy and enhancing our neighborhoods,” Brewer said. “This new law allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to join Community Boards will further promote civic participation as well as add valuable youth perspectives and diverse skill sets to our Boards. I have advocated for this for years, and can’t wait to welcome the first group of 16 and 17-year-olds. My office will work to recruit and train young people, beginning immediately.”
The Manhattan Borough President’s Office will get the word out at youth events, street fairs, social media, youth programs and schools and via the Boards themselves. Community Boards are tasked with being the independent and representative voices of their communities – the most grass-roots form of local government. Board members are officially appointed by the Borough President.
“Enthusiastic thanks to the Governor and Legislators for this new law, also the City Council for passing a resolution in support, and all our friends at the Police Athletic League and two dozen community and activist groups for all their work in making this happen,” Brewer said. “Special thanks to Senator Andrew Lanza and Assembly Member Nily Rozic who worked on the State bills, NYC Council Member Ben Kallos who introduced the most recent City Council Resolution with me, and NYC Council Member Mark Levine, who began helping on this effort when he was still a District Leader.”
“Community Boards play an important role in improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers and they are intended to represent a diverse range of perspectives on the issues that come before them,” said Senator Lanza. “Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds should be encouraged to engage in civic discourse and serve their communities. This new law will permit our youth to apply for Community Board membership and provide them with the opportunity to add their unique and fresh perspective which would undoubtedly benefit communities on Staten Island and across the City. I thank Assemblywoman Rozic, Manhattan Borough President Brewer and members of the City Council for their support on this important legislation.”
“This new law will empower our youth and give them the chance to offer their perspective on a variety of issues in their communities,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “By lowering the age of eligibility, we are opening up the potential to transform Community Boards, reach out to our young people in a positive way, and involve them in the democratic process as soon as possible.”
“On behalf of the Police Athletic League, and the Teens On Board Coalition, we thank you for validating the voices and work of dozens of youth service and civic engagement groups who helped to gain passage of Public Officer Law legislation allowing fully vetted teens to come to the community advisory table,” said Al Kurland of the Police Athletic League. “To paraphrase a poem oft quoted by another Governor Cuomo, you have ‘expanded the circle to let teen leaders in’.”
“This is an important moment for the residents of New York City,” said Sarah Andes, NYC Site Director at Generation Citizen. “Granting young people the opportunity to serve on their Community Boards underscores the valuable perspective that they offer, and allows our neighborhoods the benefit of identifying and developing civic leaders from any early age.”
Manhattan’s 12 community boards each comprise 50 volunteer members serving staggered two-year terms. Additional information on the boards, eligibility, and application details are here.
Among the many groups that provided crucial support are:
Asian Pacific American Student Alliance
Boy Scouts of America, GNYC
Children’s Aid Society
Community League of the Heights
Community Education Council District #6
Community Services with Faith, Hope & Charity
Council for Unity
Fostering A Life, Inc.
Fresh Youth Initiatives
Future Voters of America
Girl Scouts of Greater New York
Humanist Party, NYC
Inwood Community Services
Police Athletic League, Inc.
Resiliency Advocacy Project
United Neighborhood Houses
Youth Development Institute
Washington Heights & Inwood Youth Coalition
San Francisco Youth Commission