CA FWD’s Young Leaders Advisory Council aims for bigger impact on state’s challenges

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Members of CA FWD’s Young Leaders Advisory Council participated in the Leading to the Future panel at the 2022 California Economic Summit (Photo: CA FWD)

Members of CA FWD’s Young Leaders Advisory Council are not the leaders of the future — we are leaders of the now and, in partnership with CA FWD, we aim to have an even greater impact on issues of most importance to the young people of this state.

YLAC — which is getting ready to welcome its fourth cohort — is composed of Californians ages 17-24 from diverse backgrounds who are committed to intergenerational collaboration in engaging underrepresented communities with the policy-making process through personal narratives and data-based recommendations.

The Council has developed and grown over the past three-plus years, seeing more than 40 young Californians serve as members in our past three cohorts. Given the nature of California’s diverse issues and the varied interests of our young leaders, we are excited to continue to iterate how we work together and how we can grow alongside CA FWD as a whole.

“The Young Leaders Advisory Council has done incredible work in the past to elevate the voices of California’s youth on important policy issues that will have great impact on our futures,” said 2023 YLAC Co-Chair Valerie Johnson. “In welcoming a fourth cohort we hope to build on this progress and continue to connect passionate and capable young leaders with opportunities to take part in regional and policy stewardship efforts that require crucial youth input.”

Goals for the fourth cohort include increasing youth voice and participation in CA FWD’s policy agenda setting process, advancing priority areas from the 2023 CA FWD Roadmap to Shared Prosperity by centering the youth experience and engaging policymakers around issues of housing, climate and environment, education and workforce, and facilitating and increasing youth engagement across regional economic development efforts.

To achieve these goals, we will be focusing on four strategic areas: policy development, regional planning, legislative advocacy, and education and movement building.

Through involvement in CA FWD’s California Economic Summit work groups, YLAC plays a role in communicating and coalition building around Summit priorities and performing key leadership functions.

To have an impact on regional planning, YLAC aims to connect members with each regional organization in CA FWD’s California Stewardship Network that they are geographically closest to in order to facilitate youth involvement and uplift opportunities for leadership.

Legislative advocacy is conducted in partnership with the CA FWD Action Fund to elevate and advocate for YLAC Roadmap and legislative priorities.

To facilitate education and movement building, YLAC aims to host and lead a communications effort to increase awareness of the impact of a growing younger civically engaged population.

Through the Council, members are not only connected with professional development opportunities, but with the opportunity to make a difference and have a seat at the table where important and long-lasting policies will be shaped and implemented.

“YLAC for me presented a chance to go a step further and advocate for youth to be more than token representation, especially as California’s leaders continue to make instrumental decisions that will impact our future,” said Sauntharya Manikandan, a member of YLAC’s second cohort. “From making space for youth voices at the CA FWD Economic Summit and work groups, creating our first policy agenda, to being part of a RFP for the County of Tuolumne, we have continued to push the boundaries of what it means to be a youth leader and I encourage those who join the fourth cohort to do the same.”

The Young Leaders Advisory Council will be opening applications for our fourth cohort on April 14 with hopes to recruit and connect with qualified and passionate changemakers eager to partner in these efforts. We look forward to continuing in this work to uplift the youth voice in California and develop the next generation of impactful leaders that California needs.


Young Leaders Advisory Council

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