My 20 years of working in Athens with middle- and high-school students as a teacher, principal, and student services director has made it clear that students want to be engaged, and want to have successful lives, but some simply don’t know how to put themselves into positions to do these things. This is an area where local government can have an impact that will be transformative. Not only do these positive experiences help develop early life job skills, they allow young people to make professional contacts engaged with community institutions, ties that have demonstrated impacts in keeping kids on the right path and avoiding the routes that could hamper their health and long-term prospects.
Support for local youth programs. In addition to the longstanding efforts of our Leisure Services Department, our partnership with the Athens Regional Library System, our support of the Young Urban Farmers and Young Urban Builders programs, and so many more efforts, we are at a critical moment in taking our support of young Athenians to the next level. The work of great grassroots organizations in Athens holds the key to steering our young residents toward pro-social endeavors that will have lifelong positive consequences for their lives and the strength of our community.
Strengthening local non-profits. We have the unique opportunity to use federal American Rescue Plan funds to bolster the work that many nonprofits have been doing without sufficient resources. This will lay down a foundation that will have a generational impact on the lives of these young Athenians, as well as preventing the violence and despair that too many of their brothers and sisters have known in their lives.
CCSD partnership. I have proposed that we pursue a partnership with the Clarke County School District and the scores of those nonprofit organizations doing great work with our young men and women to create a structured, focused collaborative between homes, schools, students and the Unified Government. So often those doing great work have labored in silos without the ongoing formal support of the local government, and without access to the knowledge and skills that the District can offer. Now is a time when we will shift this dynamic and create a communication platform that will follow the success of each student, and ensure that every support provider in each young person’s life has access to a common set of information.