Leaders in public office have influence that goes far beyond the ability to affect government decision-making and policy development. As our representatives, they are – or should be – a reflection of their communities. The absence of this undermines the very principles of democracy.

School4Civics was a non-partisan program which trained and mentored promising leaders from diverse communities to organize political campaigns or run for office. Expert faculty included political strategists, campaign managers and former candidates who impart lessons from the field for a multi-party perspective.

Program success

Starting in 2008, we trained more than 150 emerging leaders with the majority participating in election campaigns or nomination races. The program contributed to an awareness of the lack of diversity in elected office, particularly in relation to the municipal election. It may have also raised expectations for change in the community, by showcasing new candidates and leaders prepared to stand for elected office.

Some indicators from the October 2010 municipal election:

  • Fourteen candidates from our network filed to run for city council or school board
  • Two graduates served as senior policy advisors to a mayoral candidate
  • All 20 graduates of the 2010 program worked on municipal campaigns

While one program graduate was elected school trustee in the Peel Region, many more have contributed to winning city council campaigns.

Currently, there aren’t any new sessions scheduled.