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Friday, February 18, 2011

Youth Summit: March 8, 5:30-8:30PM

Teen leaders...attend the 3rd annual Mecklenburg Youth Leadership Summit!

The event will be March 8, 5:30-8:30PM at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, room 267. All high school student leaders - both serving in official leadership roles on student council/clubs and emerging leaders who want to make a difference at school and in the community - are asked to participate. The event is free but pre-registration is required.  To register, contact or 704-343-6999 with your name, school and email address. You can register anytime. You are not too late.

[NOTE: We have had computer issues. If you sent an email March 1-3 and did not receive a reply, please contact us again. Thank you!]

At the summit, teens will meet and collaborate with leaders from other schools and youth programs across the community. The event will also allow students to discuss and give feedback about important community issues - including government funding for schools, parks, libraries, safety and more - as part of the communitywide event Get Real 2011. This is your chance to make your student voice heard on budget decisions that will impact you and things you care about!

Additionally, students from Kids Voting Mecklenburg program Youth Leadership Council/Youth Voice will lead a discussion about ways to regularly connect students and schools with government and community leaders. Dinner and service hours are available.

The program is sponsored by Kids Voting Mecklenburg, and funded in part through a grant from Crossroads Charlotte's Front Porch program and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Foundation.

Flyer and more info
Charlotte Observer story

Stop the presses: Kids Voting not eliminated

We need to clarify something reported in the Charlotte Observer, News and Observer and other news sources regarding Governor Perdue's recommended budget and Kids Voting.

This story (which originated in the News and Observer) outlines the Governor's proposed budget, including school nonprofit programs. It says she "eliminates the following nonprofits: Kids Voting..."

To be clear, Governor Perdue wants to eliminate a program grant, a small part of the $3.2 billion cuts she proposes. In 2010, there was a Kids Voting program appropriation through the Department of Public Instruction - Kids Voting Mecklenburg received less than 15% of that funding. Despite a 2011 budget cut to the Kids Voting program, the NC budget does not eliminate the Kids Voting Mecklenburg organization!

Confusing? A little. (Coincidentally, we have an expert communications team - and Wray Ward - helping us on just that kind of thing. More on that later!)

Kids Voting Mecklenburg is a nonprofit organization that operates a variety of K-12 education programs impacting tens of thousands of students in the Charlotte area. This includes:
  • Free K-12 civic learning resources for schools;
  • Teacher support and leadership/professional development;
  • Teen programs such as Youth Civics and Youth Leadership Council/Mecklenburg Youth Voice; and,
  • The traditional "Kids Voting" mock election program.
We partner with CMS, non-public schools and youth programs to help students in school and develop their knowledge and skills for effective 21st century leadership and citizenship.

Whether we're in or out of the Governor's budget, we're still working hard to educate students, raise citizens and build leaders. Please help us to make sure that Kids Voting Mecklenburg's efforts are never eliminated.

Here's how you can make a tax-deductible financial contribution today to support Kids Voting Mecklenburg, a 501c3 nonprofit organization:
  • Make a secure, quick contribution online;
  • Mail a check payable to Kids Voting Mecklenburg, 700 E Stonewall Street Suite 710, Charlotte NC 28202; and,
  • Contact us about connecting your organization through a highly visible business sponsorship, grant or other ways to support K-12 civic education and leadership in the Charlotte area.
With your support, we're heading into our 20th program year and going strong. Thank you for working with us to make it happen!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Presidents Day

2012 update here

Presidents Day is a holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. This year, it is February 21. It is a day when Americans honor the leaders who have served as President of the United States.

At first, the holiday celebrated the birthday of the first President, George Washington. Now, the holiday also celebrates the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, also born in February, as well as the lives and accomplishments of the other Presidents.

Role of the President

The US Constitution defines the President’s role and requirements for taking office. Some of the specifics, such as the date of Election Day, or the number of terms the President can serve, have changed over the years.
  • The president must be at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen, and have lived in the United States at least 14 years.
  • Americans vote for president every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. That popular vote chooses delegates to the Electoral College, which elects the President. The President serves for four years, and can be elected to four additional years.
  • The President wears many hats. The Constitution assigns the president two roles: chief executive of the federal government and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. As Commander in Chief, the president has the authority to send troops into combat, and is the only one who can decide whether to use nuclear weapons.As chief executive, the President enforces laws, treaties, and court rulings; develops federal policies; prepares the national budget; and appoints federal officials. He also approves or vetoes acts of Congress and grants pardons.
  • The President earns $400,000 each year, plus additional expenses and benefits such as living at the White House.

Learning Opportunities

Use Presidents Day as a civic learning opportunity. Learn about the roles and history of the President and evaluate leadership, communication and political skills. A variety of activities are available. Modify based on your grade level or subject area. For example, you can focus students on the community, North Carolina, the United States or another country. Connect this to history, literature or in a global community.

There are many opportunities for writing, reading, small group discussion and oral presentation. The activity aligns with several core standards. Skills include:
  • Persuasion
  • Critical thinking
  • Analysis
  • Reading information
  • Active listening
  • Writing
  • Civic literacy
  • Media literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Civic leadership
  • Local and State Government
  • Federal Government
  • Effective communication
  • Family dialogue
  • Group discussion
  • Connecting historic events, personal knowledge, current events or global life



Leaders have roles and responsibilities. Who are the different leaders at your school? City? Country? Are some of their roles similar? Different? Explain what is the same and what is different, and why you think that is.

Student Council
School Board
City or town
United States

What’s for Kids?

What does the President do or talk about that is of interest to or affects kids? How much time do you think he spends working on issues that impact kids? Does he spend more or less time on those issues than he does on adult issues? Why do you think that is?

(Some topics could include education, health, environment, safety, etc.)


If you were writing a biography or reporting about the President (pick any President in history, or divide the class into groups), what would your book title or news headline be?

Now, read actual titles or headlines. One easy way to do this is through Google or You can also view an online Presidential Library or news source.

Were you close? Is your headline or title better? Why?

Sometimes there will be many headlines and titles, with each one saying something completely different (example: George Washington: The Best President Ever! or George Washington: The Worst President Ever!). Why do you think that is?


Watch a video of a President, or read a famous speech. How does the President communicate the information? Is he persuasive? How? What do you think is the most effective thing he does to communicate the information? Least effective?

If reading
  • Does he write clearly?
  • Are the sentences long or short?
  • Can you summarize his main points – in a few words, what was the speech about?
If watching
  • Does he read from a piece of paper?
  • Does he raise or lower his voice or move his hands to illustrate a specific point?
  • What emotions and expressions does the President show? Does he look confident?
  • How is he dressed? Does this matter?


What are the roles of the President (past or present)? What are some examples of the President in these roles?

In your opinion, what are the ideal qualities in a leader? Which President(s) demonstrated those qualities?

(Examples: brave, caring, smart, healthy, cooperative, strong, decisive, curious, friendly, honest, hard-working)
What are words that come to mind when you think of a leader? A politician? Are the words the same, or different? Why?

Do you have to be an official “leader”, like the President, to demonstrate those qualities? How can you be a leader in your everyday life? Give examples.


If you were the President, what would you do? Would you change policies? Make things happen? Solve problems? Write a short speech and tell everyone!

Or, role-play a President in history - or a leader in another country - and write your speech from that perspective.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Register now for Youth Civics

Visiting City Council meeting

Taking Civics? Interested in politics, law or service? Want to know how to make a difference on decisions that impact you?

Register now for Kids Voting Mecklenburg's exciting program, YouthCivics. You'll attend real government meetings, see the courthouse and meet a judge, find out who the leaders are, where government gets (and spends) its money, explore careers and more.

YouthCivics is ideal for students in Civics & Economics class and others with an interest in government, politics, law and service. Registration is open for the next 6-week course, which will take place one evening a week in March and April. Sessions will be held at government buildings in downtown Charlotte. Community service hours are available for completing the course and providing important feedback.

Pre-registration is required. Space is limited - sign up now! There is a one time $25 fee for the 6-week course, which includes dinner, handouts and other materials. Scholarships are available. Schedule, session location and directions and other information will be provided after you register.

To register and ask questions, contact or 704-343-6999
Download flyer
General information
View photos and other info from recent YouthCivics courses
Read how YouthCivics impacts student learning, from youth perspective

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Registering to vote

Everyone knows that leadership, citizenship and democracy happen 365 days a year.

One special event takes place each year where all three of these things happen at once: Election Day. Are you registered to vote?

Registering to vote is an easy, and important, thing to do. Here's how you can register:

  • If you are 18 or above, you can register to vote in a primary and the general election.
  • If you are 17, and will be 18 by the next general election, also called Election Day (this year: November 8, 2011), you can register to vote.
  • If you are 16 or 17 and will NOT be 18 by the next general election (November 8, 2011), you can pre-register to vote. When you pre-register, then you are automatically registered when you turn 18.
Get a voter registration form from your school front office or download from the web. When you have completed it, if you live in Mecklenburg County you can send it to:

Mecklenburg County Board of Elections
PO Box 31788
Charlotte, NC 28231

If you live in another NC county, find the address here.

If you don't live in NC, contact your local or state Board of Elections.

If you go to an out-of-town college, you can change your voter registration and vote there, or you can request an absentee ballot to vote in your home county. Here's how to request an absentee ballot.

Want to learn more about voter registration? Contact the Mecklenburg Board of Elections or read more at the State Board of Elections website.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Youth Leadership and Voice

Halston, Yaw and Aidan talk about school policies with CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman.

Teens: Are you interested in leadership? The community? Making a difference? Get involved in our youth civic leadership program!

The group meets twice a month to discuss school and local government policies and issues, and plan and take part in conversations and meetings with public officials. It is a good opportunity for students in student council, debate, politics clubs, Civics and Economics class, service clubs --  any student who is interested in making a difference and becoming a leader! Service hours are available.

This is a great chance to learn about local government, develop leadership skills and make your voice heard on topics such as school budgets, city planning, county services, media coverage of teens and more. Recent projects have included meetings with Peter Gorman, interviewing candidates for county commission, being part of a panel on Center City Partners' 2020 plan for Charlotte and other exciting things.

All high school students are invited to participate. The program is free. Upcoming meetings will be held on Tuesdays evenings in February, March and April at the Government Center.

For information contact Amy Farrell at or 704-343-6999, and join the youth page on Facebook a flyer here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Black History Month

February is Black History Month.

It is a chance to learn about leaders and events important to the history and progress of African-Americans in the United States. One civic learning opportunity related to Black History Month is voting rights. A large part of the civil rights movement was dedicated to establishing voting rights for all Americans.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution guaranteed voting rights would not be denied “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”. It was made official in 1870, after the Civil War.

In some states, African-Americans voted and were elected to local, state and federal offices. In other states, particularly in the South and in other areas, state governments enacted voting laws that required citizens to own property, pay a special tax or pass a literacy test to be eligible to vote. This meant that many people, including poor or uneducated African-Americans, were unable to register to vote.

Over time, civil rights supporters worked to overturn these voting requirements. This was done through activism, protests and other methods of communication and advocacy. The people involved included both famous leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as other private citizens who wanted to make a difference.

In 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. It outlawed the literacy requirements for voter registration. It also provided federal protection to help ensure that voters were given equal opportunity to register and vote.

Learning Opportunities

Use the context of Black History Month to learn and think critically about voting rights. A variety of activities are available. Modify based on your grade level or subject area. For example, you can focus students on the community, North Carolina, the United States or another country. Connect this to history, literature or in a global community. There are many opportunities for writing, reading, small group discussion and oral presentation. The activity aligns with several core standards. Skills include:

· Critical thinking
· Analysis
· Reading
· History
· Writing
· Civic literacy
· Media literacy
· Collaboration
· Civic leadership
· Government
· Effective communication
· Group discussion
· Connecting historic events, personal knowledge, current events or global life


Download K-12 Civic Learning Opportunity: Black History Month

Voices of Civil Rights (Library of Congress)

Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution (Library of Congress)

Reporting Civil Rights: Perspectives from reporters

Voting Rights Act (

Voting Rights Act (document)

Voting Rights Act (Department of Justice)

This Day in History


Compare and contrast the roles of individuals, leaders and how leaders are selected at different levels from student council to global cities and countries. What are the differences and similarities? Who can make changes? How does it happen?

Student Council
School Board
City or town
United States


If you were reporting on civil rights, including voting, what would your headline say?

Search news headlines in history. Were you close? Were they right? Why or why not?

Read headlines about the address from different news sources. What do they say? How are they similar or different? Why?

A good resource is, or even Google. Use important dates in the Civil Rights Movement in 1965 including March 7 (March on Selma), March 17 (President Johnson sends Voter Rights Act to Congress), and August 6 (when the Voter Rights Act was signed into law).


Role-play leaders and citizens involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Possible roles:

Famous African-American leader such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
Citizens who want to change voting rights
People who want to vote and are not allowed to register
News reporters from the NY Times, Birmingham (AL) News and a global news source Governor of a Southern State
President of the United States
Egyptians in January 2011 who are researching different civil rights movements

How do the leaders demonstrate their leadership? Are they persuasive? Collaborative? How?
How do the citizens get involved? How do they convey that they want to make a difference, not just trouble?
If you are reporting the news, is your coverage different depending on where you live?
What are a state governor’s responsibilities? Does he/she have to work with other governments? Citizens? Leaders? Why or why not?
Why did the President enact the Voting Rights Act? How did he accomplish that task?
If you were working to make a difference in 2011, would you march and protest? Why or why not? What are some ways you can make an impact on leaders, policies and decisions?


Grades K-2 Wish Tree: Students make wishes for the country regarding changes they would like to see

Grades 3-5 Non-voter Simulation and Suffrage Timeline: Students explore the concept of voting rights.

Grades 6-8 Part of the Franchise: Students personalize the history of voting rights.

High School 1965 Alabama Literacy Test, Voting Rights Act of 1965: Students experience the injustice of voter discrimination and explore the impact of the Voting Rights Act.

*These lessons are provided directly to Charlotte area schools through Kids Voting Mecklenburg. If your school is in the Charlotte area and you would like a copy, contact If you are not in Charlotte, visit to connect to your nearest Kids Voting affiliate.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's going on in Egypt?

Hearing a lot about Egypt in the news? Not sure what's going on, or what it means?

Think about things the same way you do when you are learning about Charlotte, North Carolina or the US.
  • Identify the local and national governments, leaders, citizens and policies. Who, what, where, when, why and how.
  • Examine what's the same as what you know here. For example, both Egypt and the US have leaders called Presidents.
  • Then, compare and contrast: what are the powers of the American president? What are the powers of the Egyptian president? Is this the same or different? Why?
  • Find out about the rights of citizens - for example, free speech is a right guaranteed to Americans. What about Egyptians? How do you know this?
  • How do citizens in both countries share information? In the current events in Egypt, citizens have been using social media to share information and mobilize support. Why do you think this is? Do you think it is effective? Why?
  • If something is happening far away, can it impact your school? City? State? Country? How? Think about things like economics, freedoms, governments, media and other things.

Another good way to learn is to compare news coverage from different sources.
  • First, identify what's happening, where, when, why, who and how.
  • Based on what you know about it, what headlines would you write about Egypt?
  • Would you make the Egypt story the top, or most important one?
  • Are there differences between the way the same stories are covered in the US, in London, in Cairo? Other places? Why?
  • Do you think you can access more or less news about Egypt than the people who are actually involved in the situation? Do you think this matters?
Learn more