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Youth Civic Design Cohort

Exploring youth leadership in civic design and government.

We recognize how oversimplified the possibilities of civics have been presented for youth. We also believe it is incredibly important to:

  • support youth leadership, and
  • encourage folks of all ages to be engaged and develop their own civic practice. 

For over a decade, we have hosted a summer fellowship program that often attracts mid-career professionals or graduate level students. During this time we have also supported the creation of Youth Lead the Change, one of the first youth participatory budgeting efforts. While we have continued to collaborate with educators and students in Boston Public Schools and local colleges and universities, we wanted to try our hand at co-creating a summer program for youth.

About the Civic Design Cohort

Image of a youth civic design fellow cutting foam core


Three people sitting in city hall's courtyard

Our goal with this program was to learn how we could better connect with youth in our work. We also wanted to co-create an eventual youth program centered around civic design and government with a focus on young people (ages 14-18) in high school or undergraduate programs.

Beginning in 2020 to 2022, through funding from Successlink, we were able to pilot three years:

  1. Year 1:

    In 2020, we hosted one youth fellow for a three week paid remote Summer fellowship.
  2. Year 2:

    During the summer of 2021, we were able to host two youth for an 8-week hybrid fellowship. We were also able to host four Zero Waste Youth Ambassadors for 20 weeks during the school year. We were also able to retain one of our summer youth as a youth leader during the school year.
  3. Year 3:

    Lastly, in summer 2022, we hosted three youth and one youth leader (ages 19-24) for an eight-week in-person program.

MONUM's work is about building trust, fostering collaboration, investing in relationships, culture change, and injecting a touch of delightfulness into government. Our Youth Civic Design fellowship is meant to provide young people with an immersive and project-based exploration of design in government. It is also an opportunity for our team to learn from and lean on their expertise to ground and guide discrete projects.

Guided by our Director of Civic Design and Civic Design Fellow, our youth designers:

  • Learn about the role art, design, and creativity can play in government
  • Conduct fieldwork and analyze research
  • Design and test prototypes
  • Advise and support ongoing projects
  • Attend meetings and presentations with city departments and team members
  • Document and share their work through blog posts, presentations, and a group zine

We’ve learned a lot and are currently reflecting on the best way to continue to amplify the leadership of young people in government.

Stay tuned for future explorations but for now check out all of our Youth Civic Design Fellow's blog posts and group zines.

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