By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In the early afternoon of Oct. 25, a group of students representing the districts of Milwaukee, gathered at City Hall in the Common Council Chambers. Hailing from different backgrounds and schools, together they made up the Milwaukee’s Youth Council of 2017, and for this particular meeting, they were tasked to divvy a portion of grants from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
In total, the group had $99,845 to work with and disburse. During the meeting, they heard requests from eight different groups, although they had received applications from ten agencies in total.
The Youth Council began in 2005 under the recommendation of Alderman Joe Davis Sr. of the 2nd District, according to City of Milwaukee’s official website, in an effort to incorporate the future generation of leaders in the improvement of Milwaukee— Kalan R. Haywood III, of District Six, is the current President.
At the start of the meeting, ten Youth Council members were present, with five being excused. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, they opened the floor for members of the following groups: Center for Self Sufficiency, Hearts of Harmony, Neu-Life Community, Running Rebels, Social Development Commission, United Community Center, WestCare Wisconsin, Inc. and Wisconsin Community Services, Inc.
During each presentation, the Youth Council listened and offered insightful questions at the conclusion of each speaker.
One group was the Social Development Commission (SDC) represented by Shelia Sampton.
Part of SDC’s mission is to educate students on substance abuse and mental health. During her proposal, Sampton mentioned that the group’s overarching goal is to go beyond the students and into their families and communities.
Member Isaac Hoeschen questioned the group’s methods.
According to Sampton, the SDC utilizes “interactive roleplay” which allows the students to learn and create their own strategies. The idea is that if a student finds themselves in a situation, they can be prepared to handle it.
Another group that spoke was the United Community Center (UCC). Claudia Rivera, illustrated the group’s intentions should they be granted the money. For them, the money is to help their Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) program and their college program Abriendo Puertas.
Rivera explained that the UCC caters to roughly 500 students and that in order to accommodate the amount they needed a larger staff. Through the Abriendo Puertas program, they can hire college students, whom they’ve helped, to supervise the volunteers participating in YVC.
The final group to speak in front of the Youth Council was the Wisconsin Community Services, Inc. with Jay Tucker from License Recovery Program.
Tucker explained that the group’s goal is to help youth who have lost their license to retrieve it sooner. According to Tucker, young people lose their licenses or are suspended from receiving their license due to, “underage drinking, truancy tickets, vandalism” and more.
“We want to help young people in Milwaukee,” Tucker said.
The program has been in existence for ten years during which they have a 75% recovery rate. An example Tucker included was the story of a young girl who, due to truancy tickets and shoplifting was unable to receive her license and pay her tickets. Through the program, she was able to do community service in exchange.
At the conclusion of the presentations, the Youth Council reexamined the offers before making a motion.
Member Hoeschen, made the first motion to distribute the funds to UCC, Running Rebels, WestCare and Wisconsin Community Services. Although no one made a second motion, Member Ken’ Triana McDade made an amendment and suggested UCC, SDC, NeuLife Community Development, WestCare Wisconsin and Wisconsin Community Service, Inc.
The motion passed with nine ‘ayes’ and one ‘no.’
Although the motion passed, President Haywood moved to distribute grants to Wisconsin Community Services and WestCare Wisconsin. The motion failed with five ‘ayes’ and four ‘no’s’.
In the end with a total of $99,845, the following amounts were granted: UCC for $15,000, SDC for $15,000, NeuLife for $20,000, WestCare for $20,000 and Wisconsin Community Service for $29,845.