The City of Dallas has a rich history of youth activism and engagement. The Dallas Youth Commission was founded in 1994 to provide a much-needed voice for students with the purpose of addressing and advocating for issues of importance to youth wellbeing. As highlighted in its All-America City application, Dallas is committed to keeping Dallas a Welcoming City to immigrants, leveraging partnerships to promote meaningful youth civic engagement, and supporting and growing a sustainable cultural ecosystem that ensures all residents and visitors have opportunities to experience arts and culture.
Dallas Youth Commission Youth Strategic Plan
The Dallas Youth Commission is a 15-member board consisting of high school students that provide a voice for Dallas youth and bring change to the community. Since its inception, the Dallas Youth Commission has spearheaded various initiatives that include youth forums, community service events, crime prevention programs, an anti-smoking ordinance, and a youth resources guide. The Commission has also focused on increasing student voter registration and turnout in local and national elections.
Below is a breakdown of some of the commission’s key initiatives:
Welcoming Dallas Strategic Plan
Immigrants have contributed significantly to the population growth of Dallas, with two in five children having at least one immigrant parent. To support the social incorporation of immigrants and refugees, the Welcoming Dallas Strategic Plan was unanimously approved by the city council in 2018. Through the Welcoming Dallas strategic planning process, city staff engaged community residents to understand challenges inhibiting immigrants in Dallas. It is through this process, that city was able to identify the greatest barriers to immigrant and refugee integration as fear of immigration enforcement due to heightened federal policies under the previous administration, lack of English language skills, poverty and lack of resources, lack of transportation, and lack of affordable housing. To address these needs, the plan prioritizes celebrating the contributions of immigrants, promoting equitable access to government services, strengthening trust with law enforcement and government leaders, increasing access to ESL and legal services, and offering economic empowerment and youth enrichment opportunities in multiple languages.
The City of Dallas has made significant progress in integrating immigrants and refugees into every aspect of city life through civic engagement and has been certified as a Welcoming City by Welcoming America. Some achievements include:
Dallas Cultural Plan
In 2017, the City of Dallas launched a cultural planning process to improve access to arts and culture. Following a year-long process with over 150 public, committee, and taskforce meetings that engaged nearly 9,000 Dallasites across the city, the new Dallas Cultural Plan was unanimously adopted by city council and includes six priorities: Equity, Diversity, Space for art, Support for Artists, a Sustainable Arts Ecosystem, and Communication. The Cultural Organizations Program (COP) contracts with established non-profit arts and culture organizations that adhere to these priorities. Examples of funded programs include: