Olathe Featured on Innovative City Leadership

Washington, DC – A new report by the National League of Cities (NLC), The State of City Leadership for Children and Families in 2009, recognizes Olathe, Kan., for its cutting-edge youth civic engagement initiatives, including the CO-Pilot city internship program, the Olathe Teen Council and Youth Congress, and the Youth in Government school curriculum. 

The report is being released during the 2009 National Summit on Your City’s Families. For more information on the summit, visit http://www.nlc.org/iyef/.  

Even as cities grapple with the worst budget outlook in decades, mayors and other municipal leaders have maintained a strong commitment to children, youth and their families. The report describes local innovations and trends in education, early childhood success, afterschool, youth in transition, youth violence prevention, community wellness, youth civic engagement, family economic success, and local “infrastructure” – such as cross-agency planning entities, data sharing efforts and creative financing mechanisms – to support children and families.  

“In recent years, cities have tested creative approaches to some of the nation’s greatest challenges and achieved impressive results,” said Clifford M. Johnson, executive director of NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute), which published the report. “NLC applauds municipal leaders in Olathe for breaking new ground and inspiring other cities across the country to take their efforts to the next level.”  

The State of City Leadership report highlights the City of Olathe’s efforts to forge sustained youth connections to local government service over time as one of the nation’s three most innovative city models for promoting youth civic engagement. Through school curricula, a Youth Congress and Teen Council, the Youth Court, and the CO-Pilot city internship program, the city encourages youth participation in local government from the early grades to high school and beyond.  

“As Mayor, I am very proud of Olathe’s youth programs, which are setting standards of excellence for student involvement in communities across our nation,” said Mayor Michael Copeland. “Olathe youth have a very important role in determining the future direction of our community – as engaged and involved young leaders, they build community relationships, foster important dialogue, and bring about positive change in our schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces.”  

The report provides a snapshot of the progress cities have made as the nation’s largest network of public policy “laboratories” and the potential for future action as municipal leaders identify and share promising approaches in these areas. The innovations and trends included in the report were selected based on the YEF Institute’s intensive work with thousands of municipal officials in hundreds of cities over the past 10 years, as well as an open call for nominations and targeted outreach to other national organizations in the field.  

The National League of Cities is the nation’s oldest and largest organization devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.  

NLC Contact: Gregory Minchak 202-626-3003 or Minchak@nlc.org