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By Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 24 September 2013

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State Farm AwardAt the swearing-in ceremony, Daniel Losk of State Farm presented The Youth Against Violence group with a check for $100,000 to support the 2014 Rob Ingram Youth Summit Against Violence. It's the second year that state farm have chosen the group for one of its prestigious national awards. 

Multnomah Youth Commissioners for 2013-14 were sworn-in Monday evening at a special ceremony which included City and County Commissioners, Portland Mayor Hales and Multnomah County Chair Marissa Madrigal.

The elected officials had encouraging words for the new commissioners.

"I can't wait to see what you're going to do with your lives," said Madrigal.  "It's going to be awesome. You're going to rock this place."

"I hope that all of you stay as long as you can on the commission and then come intern in some of our offices while you're in college. And then when you're out of college come do a little policy internship again. Then we'll run you for office. You just have so much potential and so much to give. It's an honor to be here tonight."

New Leaders
Jose Lopez-Delgado and Amy Qui will co-chair the commission this year. The youngest commissioners are Charity Dunlevy-Todd from Mt. Tabor Middle School and Alex Cook of Reynolds High School, who are both 13. The oldest (non-voting) commissioners are Jerome Smith, attending Portland Community College, and Derriel Ingram, from Portland State University, both 20.

Derriel is the son of Rob Ingram, former director of the Office of Youth Violence Prevention, who died suddenly of a heart attack in 2011. Derriel said that when he returned to Portland after a year attending  Lane Community College, he called Marc Fernandes, who coordinates the youth commission.

"He told me that applications were due in two weeks, so right then I decided to apply." Derriel served as president of the Black Students Union at Benson High School, during 2010-2011, and is studying business.

Encouragement from Elected Officials 
Mayor Hales said it was his first opportunity as mayor to swear anyone in to office. The ceremony is the only event that brings together county and city commissioners in a joint public meeting, he said. 

"The youth commission has been involved in some big stuff in this community. I saw the youth commission in action at the candidates forum, at the Rob Ingram Summit against Youth Violence, and as advocates in the city and county budget process –and I was very impressed."

Commissioners also presented two Youth Champion awards to recognize city and county employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to improve the lives of young people. From the county, Erin Fairchild was recognized for her work helping child victims of domestic violence. From the city, Capt. Chris Uehara of Portland Police was recognized for his many efforts to help youth, both in schools and through sports. 

Hales, McKeel, Fritz, and Novick all urged the commissioners to use their terms to develop knowledge and skills in policy.

"You will get out of this what you put into it," said Fritz.

Commissioner Novick had a special request. He asked youth commissioners to use their positions to increase public knowledge of where and why tax money is spent.   "Talk to your friends," he said.

State Farm Grant of $100,000 Will Support Anti-Violence Efforts
Daniel Losk of State Farm presented The Youth Against Violence group with a check for $100,000 to support the 2014 Rob Ingram Youth Summit Against Violence. It's the second year that state farm have chosen the group for one of its prestigious national awards.  Losk said the group had impressed the grant awarding board by gathering data to back their policy recommendations and presenting it to city and county leaders.

Building on Past Successes
The new group of 26 commissioners say they will continue their work to give young people a voice in policy issues that affect them. Among the successes they recorded last year:

In the run-up to the November election the commission organized a candidate forum that brought 150 youth to hear from candidates for Portland mayor and city commissioner.

Commissioners worked with Gov. Kitzhaber's Cradle to Career collaborative to research and present students' perspective on the reasons why some youth end up missing many days in school.

The sustainability committee partnered with the nonprofit OPAL and successfully campaigned to retain funding for the TriMet youth pass for the year that includes

Working with a PSU researcher, the commission helped train 50 adults in how to build better  partnerships with youth

The Youth Against Violence committee held  the 2013 Rob Ingram Summit Against Youth Violence. From the summit and the focus groups leading up to it, they produced an action plan with policy recommendations .

Youth Against Violence also partnered with Resolutions Northwest to teach students about restorative justice and support 11 service learning projects in schools.

The commission worked with county and city leaders to place youth liaisons in the offices of elected officials.

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