Fairfax County Youth Leadership Program (FCYLP) - About The Program
About The Program
The goal of this initiative is to inspire young people to become citizens who will share their ideas and bring their energy to local government to help develop solutions to issues communities will face in the next century.
Need for the Program
In its second year, the “Closest to the People” curriculum was expanded and adapted for middle school students. In addition, the Youth Leadership Program (YLP) was inaugurated as a component of the “Closest to the People” initiative. "Closest to the People" and the Youth Leadership Program was designed to educate the County’s next generation of citizens about their local government and to create a self-perpetuating circle of information between county agencies, high school students and middle schools students.
Description of Program
Preparation for the Youth Leadership Program begins in November when applications are received and from all County high schools. Applicants are chosen from each of the 25 high schools by a selection committee of Fairfax County Public School teachers and County government personnel. Criteria include standard measurements of high school success and an interest in government issues.
Each High School selects a teacher sponsor to support the student during the program. The program begins in January and concludes the following December, therefore students enter as high school juniors and complete the program in their senior year. Students and their sponsors attend the first session in January with the County Executive, sponsoring leaders from the Department of Management and Budget, sponsoring school district personnel and the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. This meeting, like each of the monthly meetings that follow includes a series of activities which are designed around thematic areas presented in the “Closet to the People” program of studies and the full range of County services. Activities consist of seminars, workshops, presentations by County staff, as well as interactive lessons and debates, cooperative learning experiences, and visits to County facilities. Activities take place at the Government Center and other off-campus locations and typically occur after school hours.
Following each session students must complete a work assignment. For example, following the first session, students are asked to meet with the member of the governing Board of Supervisors representing their County district. Students compose questions that reflect their districts concerns and interview their Supervisor. Information garnered through these meetings is often shared by the students in internet chat rooms as well as discussed at monthly sessions.
In addition to participation in the monthly sessions, each student is required to complete a three-week paid internship in a Fairfax County agency. The goal of the internship is to expose students to the inner workings of County government and to experience the policy-making process on a daily basis. Students are placed in a variety of sites throughout the county including the County Executive’s Office, the Circuit Court, Department of Information Technology, County Attorney, Department of Family Services, Fire and Rescue, Health Department, Housing and Community Development, Recreation Services, Park Authority, Public Affairs, Office of the Sheriff, Department of Transportation, Consumer Protection, Human Resources, and the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
In October, program participants venture out as “ambassadors” for the program to speak to middle school civics classes in their high school’s pyramid. Their presentation is on local government’s role in their everyday lives and their experience in this program. They encourage younger students to learn more about “where they live” and to become active citizens, regardless of age. These presentations also offer participants the opportunity to use technology and develop or sharpen public speaking skills.
Use of Technology
“Closest to the People” has its own website for local government curricula, interactive government lessons and simulations. It is connected to both the County and the public school system as well.