Youth and the Community

Producing social change through public policy

What is Public Policy?

Broadly, we might say that a public policy is simply what government (any public official who influences or determines public policy, including school officials, city council members, county supervisors, etc.) does or does not do about a problem that comes before them for consideration and possible action.
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Specifically, public policy has a number of key attributes:
  • Policy is made in response to some sort of issue or problem that requires attention. Policy is what the government chooses to do (actual) or not to do (implied) about a particular issue or problem.
  • Policy might take the form of law, or regulation, or the set of laws and regulations that govern a particular issue or problem.
  • Policy is made on behalf of the "public."
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  • Policy is oriented toward a goal or desired state, such as the solution of a problem.
  • Policy is ultimately made by governments, even if the ideas come from outside government or through the interaction of government and the public.
  • Policy making is part of an ongoing process that does not always have a clear beginning or end, since decisions about who will benefit from policies and who will bear any burden resulting from the policy are continually reassessed, revisited and revised.
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No doubt, there are many problems in our communities that need to be solved. Some problems may readily be dealt with by actions taken in the private sphere (individuals and families) or by our civil society (social, economic, or political associations or organizations).
Public policy problems are those that must be addressed by laws and regulations adopted by government. Your first task is to firmly establish that the problem you want to work on is, in fact, one that requires government involvement to reach a solution.

How are young people making a difference?

Nowadays young people have the power to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in their communities. They are becoming informed and effective global citizens, convinced of their ability to make a difference in the world.

Melati and Isabel Wijsen are on a mission to stop plastic bags from suffocating their beautiful island home of Bali. Their efforts — including petitions, beach cleanups, even a hunger strike — paid off when they convinced their governor to commit to a plastic bag-free Bali by 2018.

Melati and Isabel Wijsen Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali.

Kate Simonds, senior at Timberline High School, is 17. Take a deep breath and a quick inventory of what feelings come to mind when you consider a 17 year old. Now watch this talk and prepare to have your thoughts flipped inside out

I'm 17 | Kate Simonds | TEDxBoise

Dr. Staudt presents innovative ideas about how International borders can be reformed by taking into consideration the realities of the people who cross them every day

My border: gateway to the world | Kathy Staudt | TEDxElPaso

Regina Lawrence, director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, introduces the release of the organization's first-ever Texas Civic Health Index

Texas Civic Health Index
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