Civic Week Is Strong As New Student Voters Registered Says Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio announced today that the City has registered 18,233 first-time student voters from Harlem to Hollis. The effort was part of the Administration’s youth voter registration drive during the City’s first-ever Civics Week, which took place the week of April 8th, 2019. Hundreds of high schools hosted events during Civics Week – an initiative of Mayor de Blasio’s 10-Point democracy agenda announced as part of the Mayor’s 2017 State of the City and known as DemocracyNYC. This initiative aims to increase civic engagement and strengthen democracy locally and nationally.

“With Civics Week, we’re helping schools mold the future leaders of our City and reminding students that their voices are powerful and can effectuate change,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Whether it’s hosting a town hall, participating in Participatory Budgeting or registering to vote, students have a real opportunity to strengthen our democracy. I encourage everyone to get involved.”

“Our young people are the future leaders of our City and our nation, and I’m excited that a record 18,000 students registered to vote and make their voices heard as part of our first-ever Civics Week,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “We’ll continue to invest in Civics for All to elevate student voice and bring the democratic process to life for our students.”

“By participating in Civics Week, students across hundreds of schools and colleges are now equipped with the information and tools they need to be active, productive participants in our democracy,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “Harnessing their creativity and energy to solve important problems will help us achieve a fairer and stronger democracy at home and across the nation.”

“Your vote is your voice – and thousands of young people across the City of New York made clear that they want their voices heard,” said Chief Democracy Officer Ayirini Fonseca-Sabune. “Registering to vote at the earliest possible opportunity – as young people across the City had the opportunity to do through this year’s youth voter registration drive – facilitates a young person’s critical first step towards a lifetime of civic engagement.”

“Registering the next generation to vote and increasing participation in elections is fundamental to making our government and communities even more representative of our diverse voices,” said Mayor’s Public Engagement Director Omar Khan. “I’m beyond proud of this collaborative effort to educate New York City’s students about their civic duty and to make the process of participating in our elections as easy as possible. This is a great example of how government can be innovative in the pursuit of greater civic engagement.”

The 18,233 newly registered student voters attend 258 New York City public schools, as well as college campuses and non-public schools. The Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit organized voter registration drives at approximately 70 schools, resulting in over 63 percent of the more than 18,000 registrations citywide. Civics Week, which took place the week of April 8th, is part of the Department of Education’s Civics for All initiative, which teaches students about the foundations of American government and the democratic process.

During Civics Week, students at public schools had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities including youth voter registration drives, Participatory Budgeting for their schools, public speaking competitions, and town halls on issues that matter to them and their communities.

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The next election in New York City will be the Primary Election on Tuesday, June 25th. The primary ballot includes races for Queens District Attorney, City Council District 45 and judicial offices throughout the city. New Yorkers who need to register to vote can do so online, by mail or in person at a New York City Board of Elections office by May 31st to be eligible to vote in the primary election. New Yorkers who are interested in registering to vote, need to update their existing registration, or want more information on the upcoming election can call 311 or visit voting.nyc.

Students at 48 high schools participated in the DOE’s first-ever Participatory Budgeting Project. A lead teacher at each of the participating schools guided the school community through the process, and students identified projects and organized votes on project proposals. Participating schools had $2,000 to spend on chosen projects.

Examples include:

  • School greenhouse for growing produce, plants, and flowers
  • Creation of a student lounge
  • Rooftop gardens
  • Materials for a composting program at the school
  • Materials for upgrading school common area and garden
  • Equipment for clubs and after-school activities
  • Upgrades to improve school spirit and pride: costume for school mascot; logo for gym floor
  • Student game room
  • Start-up funding for a school store

During Civics Week, schools also participated in SoapboxNYC, a K-12 public speaking competition that calls on students to speak out on issues that affect them and their communities. Students participated in the City’s Civics for All poster competition and created posters that speak to important social issues. Guest speakers including New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, Assembly Member Cathy Nolan, and Council Member Mark Treyger visited a variety of schools to encourage public engagement. To support Civics Week and participating schools, the Department of Education developed instructional guides to help schools host voter registration drives and design activities that encourage civic participation.

Civics Week is part of the Department of Education’s Civics for All initiative. The DOE believes civic education is an essential part of every students’ core academic program. The goal of Civics for All, a new initiative announced in Spring 2018, is to provide resources, programming, and professional learning to all of our schools with models for civic education that are interactive, project-based, and relevant to students’ lives. In addition to participatory budgeting, the initiative includes a DOE developed K-12 civics curriculum, increased opportunities for student civic engagement, a student voter registration drive, and school partnerships with community organizations.

The DemocracyNYC initiative aims to increase voter registrations and civic engagement in New York City, while also empowering New Yorkers to be active, informed voters. DemocracyNYC was first announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in his 2018 State of the City address, detailing a robust 10-Point Plan to make New York City the fairest, most civically engaged big city in America. DemocracyNYC is an initiative of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives.

“It cannot be overstated how vital it is to our democracy that young New Yorkers understand the many ways they can make their voices heard. This spring, students across New York had an incredible opportunity to learn firsthand about civic participation, both in and out of the voting booth, and I am beyond thrilled that the City registered over 18,000 first-time student voters at the same time. Four years ago, my office launched Student Voter Registration Day, and thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s DemocracyNYC initiative, opportunities for youth civic engagement only continue to grow,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“It is very encouraging to learn that more than 18,000 students registered to vote during Civics Week this past April. While we did see a nominal rise in the voter turnout for the midterm election in 2018, New York City continues to fall behind in getting to the polls. Increasing voter registration and turn out among young adults is an important step towards fostering active civic engagement and lifelong voter participation. I commend our next generation of leaders as they partake in the democratic process and express how they want to see the future of their city, state, and nation,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.

“It is fantastic to see the drive young people have to be politically engaged during Civics Week. If these 18,000 students – new voters – are our future, it is looking bright. Thanks to the Mayor’s office for a focus on democracy in schools,” said Council Member Keith Powers.

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