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Friday, September 30, 2011

Register now for upcoming YouthCivics sessions

Students role play mayor and city council to learn about the city

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

Registration starts October 1 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 November and December. Sessions will be held at government buildings in downtown Charlotte. Community service hours are available for completing the course, participating in discussions about community issues, 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. To register, send your name, school, phone number and email address.Put Youth Civics in the subject line or note it somewhere else in the email. (We are also registering students for other programs at the same time.)

Download flyer
General information
View photos and other info from recent YouthCivics courses
Read how YouthCivics impacts student learning, from youth perspective

Sessions are 6-8PM at government buildings in downtown Charlotte (we will provide directions and info to registered participants). Scheduled dates are:
  • November 15
  • November 21
  • November 30
  • December 6
  • December 13
  • And one additional meeting with officials on one of these dates (participants pick) November 16, November 29, December 7

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaching about local government

Looking for resources to help your students learn more about government?

Local government is a great example - think of all of the educational possibilities! For example, reading and analyzing public documents, writing letters to officials and figuring out who's responsible for different community services.

We are developing tools to boost civic learning inside - and outside - of the classroom. Let us know what you need to teach students about government, civic participation and leadership in the classroom, in the community or at home.

Access Classroom Resource Library at

Students learn civics best through classroom education combined with community learning opportunities including civics experiences and real examples of government and civic life. Help us to make it happen for your students!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Talking with officials

Have you ever wanted to talk with an official about something that matters to you?  Let public officials and decision makers know what you think about an issue, policy or decision that is important to you!

Find out WHAT and WHO and HOW
  • Is one level of government responsible for the issue you want to discuss or learn about?
  • Who is the best person to contact -  for example, who represents your neighborhood or town?
  • How can you contact that person - email? phone? social media?
Here's information that outlines different governments and services, who's in charge, and how to contact them.
Ways to talk to officials
  • Sending an email or talking to them on the phone
  • Connecting on Facebook or Twitter
  • Meeting with your public officials
  • Going to a public hearing
  • Inviting public officials and decision makers to your school or organization

Things to keep in mind
  • Remember that you provide a valuable perspective that officials need to hear
  • Listen – to everyone in the room, especially people you disagree with
  • Be respectful and polite
  • Build relationships – don’t only communicate to complain
  • Be open-minded
  • Think critically – connect what you hear with what you know
  • Think like a leader – how does this issue impact others? The future? What can I do to make things better for the most people?
  • Look for facts and figures
  • Identify the intent – even if you don’t like a policy, can you see where the official was going with the idea?

Tips for communicating
  • Mention that you are a student
  • Ask questions and/or state your opinion
  • Get your facts straight
  • Make your comments short and to the point…focus on what’s important
  • Offer suggestions and solutions
  • Ask for specific action
  • Relate to your personal experience
  • Use your own words
  • Don’t waste time on the obvious
  • Ask if you can help be a part of the solution
  • If you are speaking, be confident and clear…and smile
  • If you are writing, spell and punctuate correctly

Learn more

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Youth Voice invites you

High school students will meet with school board members on Wednesday, September 21 at 6-7:30PM to discuss the superintendent search and other issues. The meeting will be held at the Government Center, 600 E 4th Street, Charlotte 28202 in room CH-14 on the lower level.

The meeting is hosted by Youth Voice-Leadership Alliance, a program of Kids Voting Mecklenburg. Student leaders, emerging leaders and students who just want to make a difference meet 2-3 times monthly to identify and discuss school and community issues with peers and government officials. The group is building a network of youth civic leaders who advise government policy and decision makers on issues impacting children and youth.

This is a great opportunity for students to learn about government and build leadership skills, while making friends and impacting the community.

All high school students from all schools and youth programs are invited to participate.

Learn more

Friday, September 9, 2011

9-11: Civic Learning Opportunity

September 11, 2011 is the 10th anniversary of important events in our nation's history. In addition to learning about what happened in 2001, you can use 9-11 as a civic learning opportunity for family or classroom dialogue. Here are a few discussion topics:


Leaders wear many "hats". For example, on September 11, 2001, President Bush was visiting a Florida classroom when he was told about what was happening in New York. He was making a public appearance, something that elected officials of all levels do every day. He also had to think about the country's safety and act as Commander-in-Chief, among many other things. What are some examples where you wear different "hats"? (example: you might be a son or a daughter, a student, a friend, a brother or sister, a soccer player)

Leaders have to know how to react. When President Bush was told about the attack, he paused, and then continued to talk with the class. A short time later, he addressed the nation about the news and then left to carry on his other duties as president. If you were a leader, how would you react to news like this? Would you run out of the room screaming? What would you do to inspire citizens and give them confidence?

Leaders work together even when they don't agree. The events in 2001, and the months afterward, brought together different kinds of people, including people who normally disagree politically. They worked together to achieve common goals. Even today, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11th, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama are working together to help the families who lost loved ones, and keep the country focused on the importance of this event in history. They have different political viewpoints, but they work together. What are some examples when you have worked together with someone to do something important? Did it matter if you agreed with that person about different things? Did it make you understand that person better?  

First responders - emergency professionals such as police, firefighters and medics - are responsible for a community's public safety.  In the 9-11 events, many New York City police, firefighters and other emergency personnel were involved in rescuing people at the World Trade Center, keeping people on the street safe, and helping in general. Many of them lost their lives while they were trying to help others. Have you ever seen police, firefighters or medics in our community? What were they doing? Why is it important that they do what they do? What kind of person chooses this kind of career? Is this something that interests you?


The September 11 events, in 2001 and today, involve different levels of government.  Many of the emergency personnel who responded to the World Trade Center and New York's mayor were a part of the local government there. The Port Authority, which was involved there and in other places, is a function of state government. (Actually, a shared operation of New York and New Jersey state governments.) The air traffic controllers who talked with and tracked the airplanes are part of federal, or national, government (Federal Aviation Administration). The President and military are part of federal government. Can you think of other examples where different levels of government work together? Do you think this is an easy process? Why or why not?

The police, fire department and medics are departments of local government. Much of their funding comes from the local government budget, funded through taxes and other sources. Each year, officials have to decide how to budget their money to run the community. This means they have to set priorities and divide their money among the different choices. Those decisions can be hard.  Here's an outline of how Charlotte, Mecklenburg and towns fund public safety and other budget priorities in 2011-12. If you were a local government official, how would you make important budget decisions? In your opinion, what is important to fund? What is less important? Why?

Economic development is important for local governments. In New York, city leaders have worked hard to plan the best way to both remember the events of September 11th and also re-build near the site. Commemorating the lives lost is important to the families and because it is an important part of the city's, and country's, history. It will also be a place where tourists can visit. Office buildings can house businesses, which give people jobs. When people visit the city, and when they have jobs, and businesses make money, the economy is better. If you were in charge of a city where something like September 11 happened, what would you want to build on the site? Buildings? A park? A statue? Can you think of examples of things the city has built here to bring jobs, tourists, or both?


You don't have to be the President or a firefighter to make a difference. In September 11 events, many people helped with the rescue effort. They worked alongside police and firefighters, or performed heroic acts on their own. They helped people find ways to get out of the World Trade Center buildings. They helped them find safety when the buildings collapsed. They helped the victims' families. They comforted strangers when they were scared. What are some ways that you can be a community helper, a good citizen?

Citizens work with leaders and governments. After the September 11th events, many of the family members of the victims worked to make a difference. They talked with leaders and the governments about making sure that September 11th would be remembered in an appropriate way in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and across the US. They asked the government to review what happened, and to report their findings to the public. Why do you think citizen involvement was important to making things happen? How can citizens continue to remember the September 11 events or work with governments and leaders to ensure it never happens again?  How can you make a difference?


9/11 -
Teaching 9/11 - New York Times
9/11 Digital Archive
9/11 Commission Report
9/11 Memorial NYC PA DC
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, fire, medic

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Youth Voice/Leadership Alliance

Students discuss education reform with school leaders

Make your voice heard!
High school students are invited to participate in Youth Voice - Leadership Alliance.

Students meet to identify and discuss school and community issues, and have meetings and forums with government leaders. Make sure your school or youth program is represented! The youth civic leadership program is a great opportunity for student leaders, and emerging leaders. Network, learn about government and leadership, and make your voice heard on policies and decisions impacting our schools and community.

First meeting is on Tuesday, September 13* from 6:00 until 7:30pm at the Government Center (600 E 4th Street, 28202). The group meets 2-3 times a month, usually on Tuesday evenings (some meetings with officials on different dates) at the Government Center. On September 13, we will talk about plans for the year and upcoming meetings with government leaders including school board members.

* If you can't attend September 13, you can still sign up to participate.

Sign up for the email list for directions, meeting updates and other information

Download flyer

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Constitution Day


Constitution Day is September 17. This is an opportunity to incorporate civic learning into the classroom or dinner table discussion. Good discussion topics include the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech), Voting Rights and more. There are many excellent resources and lesson plans available, covering just a few minutes to entire class periods and more. Here are a few we like:

High schools have the additional opportunity of hosting a student voter registration drive - use this opportunity to explore the right to vote and also celebrate NC Voter Awareness Month. Read more here.

Did you know: Schools receiving federal funding are required to spend some time during the class day to study and celebrate the US Constitution. (Use that as a civics lesson in itself!)

We are developing a partnership with iCivics, and developing resources to link their games and lessons to current events and civic learning opportunities in Charlotte. Let us know your ideas!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parent feedback needed

Are you a parent of a K-12 student? Please take this short survey and help us... to better help you!

Your feedback will help us as we develop resources for parents and their children or teens, to enrich learning outside of the classroom.

Parents are also invited to sign up for our e-mail news list Receive periodic news, updates and opportunities. Learn how we are supporting your school, about civic learning opportunities, and what your students should be learning about government, civic participation and leadership at different ages (according to NC Standard Course of Study).

Thank you!