HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Twice a year, the City of Huntsville gives residents a chance to see city government from the inside and learn how they can build the city's future. The free, six-week Civil Engagement Academy gets students ages 19 and above engaged with local leaders and shows them how local government works...and how they can get involved.
This fall's session runs Sept. 27 through Nov. 15 with meetings on Tuesday nights from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and introduces residents to City government through classroom and interactive meetings. It's part of the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI)'s vision to "promote community engagement, multicultural and social justice education, and leadership development."
“The Civic Engagement Academy will help up-and-coming Huntsville residents build relationships with key City personnel while also making government more accessible,” Mayor Tommy Battle said. “You’ll leave the program better acquainted with municipal leaders while understanding how our departments enhance quality of life and welcome community involvement.”
How can I join?
To be eligible, citizens must be at least 19 years old; a Huntsville resident, business owner or student; an aspiring or established local influencer; and have a desire to increase community involvement. Those selected must also complete at least five out of six classes to graduate.
Although the program is geared towards adults, Anderson said that this is an effort with lasting impacts across generations, especially for education among youth.
"I don't have kids in school system, but from my understanding that civics is not a requirement anymore.," he said. “There's an opportunity there, there's a gap that exists out of community, so that my question would be how can we perhaps partner with some of the organizations that are out there that may have those interests, some of the organizations that are involved in voter registration? If it's the organizations that are involved with boards and commissions and nonprofit work and serving the community in various ways? How can we partner with them to encourage an effort to reach those younger people and engage them at an early stage.”
The Fall 2022 Cohort will focus on the following topics:
- Oct. 4 – Our City at Work at City Hall
- Oct. 11 – Our City Growing & Playing
- Oct. 18 – Our City Safe, Secure, Responding
- Oct. 25 – Our City Communicating & Caring
- Nov. 1 – Our City Maintaining
- Nov. 15 – Our City Engaging
Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Director Kenny Anderson is working closely with Assistant ODEI Director U’Meeka Smith on the CEA. Anderson says, “The CEA’s goal is to help close the gap between what citizens think the City of Huntsville does and what we actually do,” he said. “We encourage anyone who meets our eligibility requirements to apply for the fall cohort, which we expect will be the first of many to have far-reaching impacts among our diverse community.”