Outside the Fort Bend County Courthouse on Aug. 28, 2020. Lucio Vasquez, Houston Public Media.

Fort Bend County’s high school and college-aged residents can apply to take part in County Judge KP George’s Youth Leadership Council. Applications must be received by Wednesday, April 27. Fifty students will be selected on May 11.

The nine-month program seeks to give young people a platform to build leadership skills, develop solutions to local issues and inspire community involvement.

“It is our duty as a community, business, and government leaders to serve as mentors for our young people, especially those who express an interest in leadership.  This program empowers young people to explore real issues that are impacting their communities,” said George.  “Participants will have an opportunity to expand their critical thinking and understanding of advocacy and develop the skills needed to advocate for change.”

Students will work with mentors to focus on specific topics, including leadership, environment, mental health, law enforcement, emergency response, economic development, recycling, healthcare, and more. They will collectively identify major issues, develop solution-based strategies, and work with stakeholders to fulfill the action items.  

“The first year, students focused on police reform and they wanted to do body cams. They focused on how to implement body cams in the police system within Fort Bend County,” said Shaneka Smith, chief of staff to George. Smith added that the body cam policy was adopted, received funding, and was placed in the county budget.

The 2022 cohort will consist of 50 students. Each will be selected based on qualifications, experience, and interest in advocacy. The program will be divided into three phases:

  1. Planning

This is the introductory step. Students will connect with their fellow peers and professional mentors. They will work together to identify major issues of their choice to focus on for the duration of the program. They will brainstorm solutions, collect data, and network with local professionals working in their area of interest to develop best practices for change.

  1. Proposal

After the collection of data and research, students will create an action plan that identifies the problem, the resources needed to address it, and provide examples of potential impact. Students will then present the proposal to a board of stakeholders.

  1. Progress

Students will update their action timelines, take the feedback from stakeholders and submit an updated plan of advocacy. Reports will detail the timeline, members, stakeholders, initiatives, data, and future action.

“We hope to have more advocacy plans implemented so we can push more ideas forward into the community,” Smith said. “This year will be in person at the student’s request. We will encourage that connectivity and accountability through all of our group meetings.”

For more information about the program and application process visit the Fort Bend County website.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...