Some view the unique program as a bridge that connects young people with politics. It's called the Close Up Foundation and it brings students from across the country to Washington, D.C. for a week of dialogue and meetings.
Here in Western New York, the Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative has partnered with the foundation for years. Recently, 10 local students of color spent eight months exploring important issues and making presentations in preparation for their trip to the nation’s capital. Initiative Director Landrum Beard told WBFO the goal is to inspire and empower young people.
“It’s important to let students know that it’s their role in government to be an active citizen. It’s their role to question why things are the way they are and what they can do to create change,” said Beard.
The students explored many issues, including Native American rights, access to affordable education and even local politics.
On Monday, the Initiative premiered a student-produced video that showcased the students' learning
experiences. Dawit Martin, 18, said the trip was enlightening, especially as young people had an opportunity to talk with government leaders.
“It was great meeting with officials, because I felt like they were actually listening and taking it seriously. And I felt like my voice was heard,” he said.
Mariyama McCoy, also 18, said she believes the unique program helps to connect youth with politics.
“There’s a lot of students who were, like ‘I don’t really care for politics.’ But then after the trip, they’re like, ‘You know what? My voice does matter when it comes to politics, because I’m going to be the one making the changes.’”
The Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative (CGLI) was created in 2008 as an identity fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo