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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

Two Thought Leadership Articles in PM Magazine to Close Out 2022

We had two articles published in International City/County Management Association’s PM Magazine December Edition. Our first article was written on Digital Equity and Public Engagement, and our second was on the important role of Youth Councils.

Digital Equity and Local Governments

We focused on the intersection of digital equity and local governments to help staff and elected leaders understand who they are trying to engage with, how they are trying to engage with them, and who may be left out of the conversation due to digital access challenges.

The pandemic placed a spotlight on digital equity when the world hastily transitioned to online work, school, and public engagement. Headlines abounded about students needing tablets and using commercial wifi to complete their schoolwork. Concerns arose about equal access to vital health information as government communication systems relied on technology to safely reach out and engage their residents. Likewise, public engagement shifted to the virtual world, transitioning in-person meetings to online, QR code surveys, and more.

Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers, the Director of the RAND Center to Advance to Racial Equity Policy, helped us understand the meaning of digital equity today and provided several illustrative examples.

Our feature stressed the importance of local governments relying on public engagement to understand their community and their level of digital access and literacy. This enables local government officials to meet residents where they are and provide digital access in a meaningful and equitable manner.

Coby C. Williams, the Founder and Principal of New Reach Community Consulting, also spoke to us on how local governments can demonstrate digital equity through action.

Even in the face of potential challenges, there are local government agencies successfully practicing digital equity in their community today. Please read our full article here to learn more.

Youth Councils

Our second piece was about the critical role that youth councils play in building trust with their community. Youth are often overlooked during public engagement processes for multiple reasons. They are not old enough to vote, own property, or pay taxes. However, they represent the future of our communities and local government. Youth councils are a unique way in which local governments can work with schools and school districts to engage with the next generation. They are an opportunity to cultivate interest in local government that, in turn, leads to an engaged and informed long-term resident. 

Local government collaboration in the public engagement space can produce robust programs like youth councils that have a major impact on students' lives and better the community. 

Without the ability to meet young residents where they are and foster authentic relationships, a lack of trust can fester and present itself as a serious barrier to local success. Youth councils are one way to forge that trust from an early age by meeting students where they are and investing in the long-term success of the community. Continue reading more about innovative local government agencies implementing youth councils in their community today here.