Secretary of State Trains “Student Ambassadors” in New Civic Engagement Program
The program trains high school students to act as “Ambassadors” of the Secretary of State’s office by holding voter registration drives and educating other youth about the electoral process.
“As the father of two high school students, I know firsthand how important it is for young adults to participate in leadership activities so they will become invested citizens in their communities,” Kemp said in a press statement.
The Ambassador program will begin with a pilot phase involving over 150 students from fourteen high schools.
“Our Outreach Coordinator contacted school districts and administrators in every region of the state to join our program,” David Dove, Kemp’s Chief of Staff, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“We wanted to make sure each region of the state was represented: north and south, urban and rural, public and private, metro and beyond,” he said.
However, most of the participating schools are concentrated in Atlanta’s suburbs and in North Georgia. Two of the 14 are private Christian academies.
The program will launch statewide at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
Dove said the goal is to have every high school in the state participating.
On January 13, 2015, the first cohort of student Ambassadors visited the Georgia Capitol for a kickoff event. They received training from the office’s Chief of Staff, Elections Director, Elections Training Coordinator, and Outreach Coordinator.
“The students were provided with information to prepare them for public speaking, event planning, and voter registration promotion,” Dove said.
The training imparted skills for working as a team, time management, problem solving, and professionalism.
Ambassadors will receive ongoing support from the Secretary of State’s outreach team as they plan voter registration drives and other events.
“We have developed several different events that the students can choose to participate in, which include partnering and serving with a non-profit organization and organizing a day of service for their school,” Dove explained.
The effort to expand civic engagement is a welcome change towards improving democracy in Georgia, especially from a Secretary of State with a questionable record of what have been described as voter fraud witch hunts.
Also, it will be critical for the program to extend beyond its mostly White pilot cohort, to include more minority students.
Last year, Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods launched a successful statewide program to distribute pocket-sized U.S. Constitutions to all fourth graders.