In St. Paul, Some Policy Makers Are Still in High School

Ninth-grader Dohneshia Moran told a reporter that she has been dropping by the Doorway nearly four times a week since it opened. “This is a great way to get help,? she said (New center’s goals hinge on helping kids aim for college, Mar. 16, Star Tribune).

The Doorway is a community-based career services office that operates from the Dayton’s Bluff Recreation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. It is the first of at least two planned centers, and was developed by the City of Saint Paul, a roundtable of college officials, and Second Shift Youth Commissioners.

The Second Shift Youth Commission was created in 2006 by Mayor Chris Coleman as a way to involve young people in policy making and planning. It includes a high-school aged representative from each of the city’s neighborhoods.

Building on their youth policy platform, the youth commissioners created a college access subcommittee to address barriers young people face in continuing their education beyond high school. The commissioners who serve on this subcommittee helped create the development framework for the Doorway. They also named the center and designed the space at Dayton's Bluff, and are in the process of promoting the Doorway at their schools and in their neighborhoods.

"We often bring adults together to find solutions to community problems,? said Kari Denissen, an adult advisor to the youth commission and an employee with Saint Paul Parks and Recreation. “The youth commissioners’ involvement in the design and implementation of the Doorway shows how the results are stronger when young people are actively involved in the process."

The Second Shift Youth Commission is part of the overall Second Shift Commission, a partnership of public, private and non-profit organizations that are working to promote learning beyond the school day - during the “second shift?- through coordinated after-school programs across the city.

Hear youth commissioners talk about their work in a 15-minute podcast.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs