South Sound Together partners want to ensure that our region has engaged and diverse leaders to join us and take the reins in the future. It’s why they created a ‘Next Leaders’ initiative to encourage young people who aspire to civic leadership in the South Sound — even during a pandemic. It’s just one of the projects South Sound Together has supported to ensure our youth have future success.

Recently, as part of the initiative’s process, students from University of Washington Tacoma, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College and Bates Technical College, participated in a series of virtual workshops to discuss how to raise up future leaders and determine what barriers they face within our community to become civically engaged.

Two separate, diverse groups of 16- to 25-years-olds were led in these activities by Michael Halvorson, PLU’s director of innovation studies and professor of history, and Divya McMillin, executive director of the Institute for Global Engagement and the Global Honors Program at UW Tacoma and global media studies professor — both of whom used design thinking in their process to get to the heart of what makes future leaders tick.

What are the hopes, dreams and aspirations when it comes to future leadership for these young people in the South Sound? How do you establish a deeper sense of community, especially during a pandemic?  For many of these young people, they see a few barriers to civic engagement, including anxiety (and imposter syndrome); time, monetary and transportation constraints; and lack of networking connections.

So what are some of the future ideas these students would like to see developed within our community?

Halvorson and McMillin recently presented their research to the South Sound board along with solutions to overcoming these barriers. Some of the suggestions include providing a collaborative space to connect, connecting students to credit-bearing opportunities and professional mentors. They also include a monthly podcast that connects community mentors, a civic engagement fair, and paid internships within the nonprofit community — and so many more.

We’ll keep you updated on what to expect next from South Sound Together ‘Next Leaders’ initiative. We’d also love to hear your ideas and thoughts on youth organizations to engage in the initiative. Email us at [email protected].

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