An Idea Whose Time Has Come
The Neighborhood Youth Leadership Institute!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
December 4, 2003

It is that time of year again for neighborhood associations: the election of officers.  Too often, the most senior members of our community take the helm as leaders for our neighborhood associations as well as other organizations.  For a twenty something or even thirty something-year-old person to lead his or her neighborhood association is rare indeed.  Limited civic participation in groups like this tends to produce in my judgment, dismal voting participation such as we regularly see here locally.  This must change if we are to continue the blessings of the freest society on earth!

Additionally, one of the more valuable assets any neighborhood has is its neighborhood leadership.  Far too often though, too few do for the many.  In addition, the too few often must serve until they literally drop.  Yet a whole new and energized segment of our population could significantly improve the shortage of leadership within our neighborhood associations.  Enter the Neighborhood Youth Leadership Institute!

Gather the best people and the best minds.  Invite the most visionary and philanthropic individuals as well as public officials to recruit high school seniors and college students to lead within their own communities.  In exchange for meaningful contributions to a given neighborhood association at a level of leadership, incentives of tuition and college assistance could be offered to our worthy participants.  A prestigious Citizen Leader award could be given and added to his or her resume. 

Students in their senior year or in college should be the principal focus of our leadership search.  The Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) could be the clearinghouse for receiving and sifting through the applicants.  The NRC would also be the natural nonprofit organization to receive the donations necessary for the success of this program.

Each student will be given training and taught skills fundamental to being good leaders.  They will then help out associations most in need or most appropriate in the vicinity of their homes, if possible.  In organizing this initiative, we will not only energize neighborhoods, we will provide each student who participates with an organizational foundation and an invaluable set of skills and experiences for the rest of their life!

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