Committee Minutes

Mayor’s Cabinet on Young People
Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - - 3:00 p.m. - - A101

Present: Mayor Brown, Carrie Knutson, Deb Thompson, Mary Lien, John Packett, Amy Brooks, Corey Mock.

I. Welcome
II. Introductions

Mayor Brown welcomed all to the meeting and everyone introduced themselves and stated what agency or group they represented.

III. Agency Report on Youth-related Activities

Corey Mock, Dist. 42 representative, stated that he wanted to make the group aware that this session the legislature established the ND Youth Council which is to be made up of youth between the ages of 17 and 24 who are North Dakota residents. He stated that the state was divided into regions and that each will have representation on the Council. Recommendations for inclusion on the Council are made to the Governor’s Office, which makes the final appointment to the commission. The Council will have 2 face to face meetings in Bismarck and the remainder of the meetings will be conducted by Conference Call. The group discussed representation for Grand Forks and that perhaps should send a recommendation for one from the School System and one from the University. Suggestion was to forward information to both Students Today Leaders Forever and emerging leader groups to look for interested individuals. Mock will forward more information to the Cabinet for their review.

Carrie Knutson, NDSU ext. and 4-H, stated that they are working on gearing up for fall programs to start with youth.

Amy Brooks, Lutheran Social Services, stated continuing to work on BOSS program and other programs as school year starts up.

Mary Lien, Grand Forks Public Schools, stated that they are wrapping up the Helping Hands program from the past summer and had 160 youth participate. Haga commented that at a recent conference there was some interest from other communities on getting information on how we run our program to help them start their own. Lien replied that they are very willing to share the curriculum used and visit with others.

John Packett, Police Chief, stated that last night kicked off the Explorers program. He commented that would still be helpful to see list of available opportunities made up and to include the Explorer program on that list. He added that always great to see the excitement of the youth to get started and even have some that come back as mentors to the group after they have aged out.

Mayor Brown stated that they had recently made trip to Winnipeg and visited the skatepark there and great to see all the use even mid-day by people of all ages, skateboarders, bike riders, and rollerbladers. The group discussed that skate park by Police Department continues to see good usage and no problem reports as well as usage of the old equipment behind Purpur Arena by some. The group discussed that Minot and Fargo both also have skate parks and still feel from some that larger facility would be benefit to our community, just need a sponsor to bring it forward. Haga added that also need to have the conversation of location, as saw that when equipment was out by South Middle School, saw little usage, but moved to more center of town and now high usage and also need to consider how the users are getting there – walking, biking, driving, do they need it to be accessible from public transportation, etc.

IV. Youth Commission Update
a. GFPS Facilitator/Coordinator Position
b. 2009-2010 Commission Improvement discussion

Lien reported that she and Haga had met over the summer and worked on plan for the commission for this year and that will include the hiring of a facilitator for the program that will also conduct a meeting within each school every month. The groups at school will be called Youth Opportunities, Recognition and Skills (YORS) and will try to include a representative from each click at the school so that they get representation from all voices of the school, thereby making the commission more diverse and facilitating better communication within schools. Each YORS group will elect representatives to the Youth Commission to bring their opinions forward. The Youth Commission will continue to provide reports to the Cabinet.

Lien continued that she, Deb Thompson, and Lisa Berger will be interviewing the applicants for the facilitator position and hope to have that person in place before the next meeting. She continued that the school district is not a fan of dances and actually has a policy of no dances for middle school and perhaps the facilitator can work with the groups to come up with other opportunities for middle school youth. Lien added that the YORS groups will be working toward the Five Promises as has always been the goal.

Haga stated that the last page of the handout lists some items for the Mayor to review and discuss further at the next meeting with the cabinet and set some expectations for the Commission. Lien stated that they really want to work on sustainability and term limits for this year so that always have some experienced member on the commission and have process in place to bring in new members as needed. The group also agreed that it was important to continue reports periodically to the City Council and to have that open communication between the groups. Lundmark commented that there has already been interest from several of the commissioners from last year on getting rolling for this year and have responded to them that we are working on the program and will be back in touch soon.

Lien reported that The Answer group is in the process of reorganizing and should also be able to provide some support and as a resource for the youth as well. Packett suggested that perhaps could also look at including a means where alumni could still stay involved as mentors as they do with the Explorer program.

V. Middle School Accessibility Discussion.

Haga explained that in the past the Cabinet has discussed that while there are a number of programs for youth, sometimes they are not able to participate either due to cost or the program or because of transportation issues. He continued that perhaps may be too broad to try and work on all age groups, but maybe start with middle school, as they seem to have a unique niche, as elementary age usually has parent involvement needed and high school often drive and transportation not as big an issue, however middle school are old enough to go independently, but don’t have way there. He saw three things that should be looked at if we wanted to address this issue in the community: identify what programs are available to the youth, what would be needed to address the transportation issue, and funding for the cost of activities and transportation. A for instance could be all middle schoolers are provided with a YMCA membership and target usage during afterschool hours – 3-6:00 p.m. with transportation from school to facility and maybe back to school sites.

Thompson stated that she visited with Pat Burger about an example from Bismarck – all youth in grades k-12 are able to participate in YMCA programming for no charge. And looked at potential grant opportunities if wanted to do similar program here in Grand Forks for all or some age levels and still have the transportation issue. Lien stated that last year piloted volunteer club and had excellent response and wondered if that could somehow be tied in with program and they volunteer and then after so many hours get the membership. She added that for Helping Hands Public Transportation has given out passes for the bus that students use to get to their volunteer locations and has been great working relationship between the programs. Thompson replied that used to have volunteer group at YMCA and got membership for working certain commitment of hours, but because they are a nonprofit are no longer able to do that and had to discontinue the program. She added that they do have counselor in training program in the summer and have many weeks where have more youth wanting to work than they have counselor spots available. She added that if we could find a way to fund bus passes, there is interest from some of the senior members to serve as a chaperone on the buses to monitor the students, which should alleviate some concern from parents that wouldn’t want their youth traveling alone. Lien suggested that perhaps working out details on this could also be included in the facilitators duties.

Thompson stated that we still have the need to get someone to contact groups and see what programs are available to the youth. There are approximately 1,557 youth in middle school. She stated that there are two grant opportunities that she has found so far. State Farm offers is a service learning program, but the deadline is Oct. 2. Lien stated that she has written this grant in the past and is lengthy and may not be time enough to get this in this year. The other grant is through Prudential and provides $1,000 recognition and trip to Washington D.C. for selected youth. Lien stated that they have had 2 students from Helping Hands that have received this in the past and great opportunity for them. Haga stated that he would like to see us try to see if we could get the State Farm grant submitted. Lien suggested that perhaps a grant writing group should be formed to look at this and others that might be out there. Haga and Thompson will look more into the State Farm application and if needed pull in assistance from School, Police Department, etc. as needed.

VI. Next Meeting Date/Agenda

The group set the next meeting for Wednesday, October 14 at 3:00 p.m. at City Hall Room A101.

Haga will visit with Dale Bergman and brainstorm potential for transportation options and ask Dale to attend the next Cabinet meeting.

Meeting adjourned 4:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sherie Lundmark
Admin Spec Sr