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.
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.
- School4Civics, the story so far
- Checklist for a School4Civics program: If you’re interested in setting up your own School4Civics program, you may want to start with this checklist
- Project description on the Cities of Migration website
- Webinar: Ballot Box to the Podium: Mobilizing Immigrant Voters and New Leadership
- Political participation: the challenge of diversity and inclusion
- Changing of the guard: New faces in places of power
- Sonny Cho: a campaign 20 years in the making