Co-Chairs of CYC: An Update from the Cambridge Youth Council

William Reed and Rory Millar

The Cambridge Youth Council (CYC) has been working on many important projects this year. For those who don’t know us, we are a subcommittee of the Cambridge City Council, a youth civic engagement group that tackles various forms of the persisting achievement gap in Cambridge, particularly in the high school. As a diverse group comprised of fourteen youth mostly from the high school, the CYC works on policy, social justice, and, of course, team bonding.

Early last year, we worked with school administration and the School Committee to amend the Attendance Violation (AV) policy at the school. We added a “buy-back” clause in the policy where, after a student AVs, they can go to their Dean of Students to “buy-back” their grade.

This was a part of a larger discussion about students’ attendance. At the end of last year, we explored how students got to school and whether that impacted their attendance. We found that, especially during the winter, many students utilize the MBTA to get to school. For many students, the money they have to pay to get to and from school (and extracurricular activities or work) is a burden on them and on their families. So, this year, we worked with School Committee members, City Councillors, and Mayor Marc McGovern to get the City of Cambridge to subsidize unlimited MBTA passes for students at Rindge who receive free lunch. The City Manager is approving the funds and it will be officially rolled out next fall for CRLS students. We are still working on implementation and how to best do that, but the city has approved the allocation of funds!

Annually, during the winter, we co-host the 8th Grade Night, an informational session where all the 8th graders from the middle schools come to the high school to get some inside knowledge about the next four years of their life. This year, we led student discussions with no adults in four classrooms. We had an open forum and some ice-breaker games so that the 8th graders could attain some idea of what high school is like, primarily based off of some CYC members’ experiences. STARs teacher Ms. Lozada and our adult coordinator, Lace Campbell, helped us facilitate and organize these successful meetings.

Another main focus of CYC in the recent months has been networking—reaching out to other groups and figures around the Boston area and all across the country. One event we attended in November was SparkShare, a youth summit conference at Tufts University where we learned about networking and different ways to approach youth advocacy. This helped us gain different perspectives about ways to approach projects and learn how other youth-led groups are tackling the achievement gap in their hometowns.

We are looking forward to our trip to Washington DC in March, where we will be attending the National League of Cities conference. Here, we will meet with other youth-led groups from around the country and form a closer bond with our current city staff and City Councillors.

If you are interested in learning more about the Cambridge Youth Council or even want to apply, reach out to Rory Millar and William Reed, the two co-chairs, or find us online at or on Instagram and Facebook as “Cambridge Raw Perspectives.” Applications for next year are now open and can be found online!


This piece also appears in our February 2019 print edition.