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Cunningham Bill To Establish Nj Advisory Council On Youth And Collegiate Affairs Clears Committee

Senator Sandra Cunningham listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.

Council To Provide Greater Insight Into Student Issues, Encourage Civic Engagement

TRENTON – In an effort to examine issues related to school-aged children and students attending higher education institution in the state, Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham has sponsored legislation that would establish the New Jersey Advisory Council on Youth and Collegiate Affairs. The Senate Higher Education Committee today approved the bill.

“The Legislature has done extensive work to create and support programs that provide direct assistance to New Jersey’s youth population, and we have an obligation to ensure that they are running efficiently,” said Chairwoman Cunningham, D-Hudson. “In order to improve these programs, it is critically important that we review how issues such as school funding, health care, financial aid, and job training actually affect today’s youth. The Advisory Council is needed so that we continue to advocate on behalf of young New Jersey residents and motivate them to stay engaged in the political process, especially on issues that have a direct impact on their lives.”

The bill, S-2778, would establish a 17-member New Jersey Advisory Council on Youth and Collegiate Affairs in the Department of Education. The purpose of the Council would be to act as an advisory body on youth and collegiate affairs to the Legislature and State departments and agencies that provide services to children and students. The Council would consist of eight representatives from advocacy groups, schools, and parent associations that are appointed by the Governor, as well as nine public members that equally represent the northern, central, and southern regions of the state.

Under the bill, the Council would be tasked with examining issues related to school-aged children and students attending higher education institutions in New Jersey; supporting and developing new statewide initiatives related to those students; fostering partnerships among government entities, community-based organizations, and representatives of the business and educational community; and training its members to serve as ambassadors to encourage participation in civic enrichment activities.

The Council would also be required to report annually to the Governor and the Legislature on the activities of the Council and present its findings and recommendations on how to encourage young residents to participate in the policy-making process.

“While civic participation among young people is on the rise, feelings of apathy and disengagement often discourage them from playing an active role in the political process,” said Senator Cunningham. “This legislation is about giving a voice to children and young adults across the state. By examining issues related to school-aged and college students, we can encourage the youth to get involved with civic engagement at an early age, and gain valuable insight into how policy decisions will affect the next generation of leaders in New Jersey.”

The bill received unanimous approval last month by the full Assembly. It now heads to Senate floor for consideration.

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