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Youth Voice
Youth Voice is a grassroots organizing effort designed to give youth a greater voice in the city and public policy. The effort stems from a collaborative of youth-serving organizations in southwest Detroit called the Southwest Detroit Youth Development Council (SDYDC). Southwest Solutions and youth leadership programs at Southwest Counseling Solutions play key roles in the collaborative. Participants in Youth Voice mobilize and advocate for better schools, safer and cleaner neighborhoods, youth employment, recreational opportunities, a more responsive system of care for youth, and allowing youth to have constructive input in institutions and policies that directly affect them.

  • Train and support teens to assume leadership and membership in their their own organization that advocates for policies that will improve their quality of life, schools and neighborhoods
  • Establish working relationships with policymakers, city officials, civic leaders and school administrators
  • Focus on 5 major issues and initiatives of great concern to youth: safety (reducing gang activity and violence), blight removal (demolishing abandoned houses near schools), jobs and job training for youth, recreation centers (securing additional funding from city revenues), and education (getting a voice in DPS decisions about school resources and policies)
  • Arrange and facilitate meetings with officials so that youth themselves can express their concerns to officials in positions to influence or change public policy
  • Expand the membership base into additional high schools, middle schools and youth-serving agencies
  • Provide workshops in community organizing that teach about base-building, asset mapping, survey and relationship-building, power analysis, coalition-building, alliances with local institutions and institutional leaders, creating an effective voice to press for needed resources and policy changes, and working with the media
To learn more about Youth Voice, contact Chris Dadok, deputy director and administrator at the Harriet Tubman Center. Members of Youth Voice meet weekly at Southwest Counseling Solutions.


  • Interim Mayor Ken Cockrel attended a forum organized by Youth Voice and pledged to work with the youth to address the issues they raised. The event with Cockrel on May 1 attracted more than 200 people. It was covered by Fox2-TV, Local4-TV, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News. A YouTube video was also made. See photos of the forum.
  • About 40 youth with Youth Voice met with Mayor Bing in his offices on June 3, following an earlier protest by Youth Voice members outside the Mayor's office because of his last-minute regrets to appear at the May 1 forum. Also present at the meeting were lead members of the Mayor’s staff to answer youth questions about abandoned housing, youth employment, safety and gangs, and recreational opportunities. The event was covered by Fox2-TV and the Associated Press (AP), which distributed the story on its national wire service. The next day, CNN arranged a live satellite interview with two leaders of Youth Voice, Jasmine Boatwright and Latrice McCants. Jasmine and Latrice both work as youth advocates for Southwest Counseling. Read our newsletter story about the meeting with Mayor Bing. See photos from the meeting. 

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