Madison Common Council gathered for the second time this month Wednesday, allocating an extra $100,000 in city funds towards youth programs.
The council voted unanimously to dedicate nearly $100,000 in Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway’s 2020 operating budget to Youth Development programs, a focus during the Mayor’s time in office.
“It is crucial that when our young people look to us we are there to meet them and to create the type of space they need to thrive and be successful,” the Mayor said at a Common Council meeting earlier in October.
The budget explains the Mayor’s plans to increase support for the 15 neighborhood centers currently funded by the City. The goal for these public facilities is to expand both their hours and outreach to families in their communities.
Additionally, $60,000 of the budget will be devoted to a teen specialist at the Warner Park Recreation Center and $75,000 for a teen librarian position at the Goodman South Madison Library.
“It is clear that teens are embracing those spaces,” Rhodes-Conway said. “It is crucial when our young people look to us, we are there to meet them and create the type of space they need to thrive and be successful.”
While the council considered the funding increase, a representative from Freedom Inc. — an organization that works to end violence against people of color, women and LGBTQ+ folx — emphasized the importance of youth centers, particularly for communities of color.
Earlier in the meeting, the council signed onto Wisconsin Public Health Association's campaign to recognize racism as a public health crisis.
The resolution states race is a social construction with no biologic basis, and it advocates for equitable policies and informed public discourse on racism and racial discrimination in the city.
The Freedom Inc. representative went on to say that youth community centers allow for a more effective approach to addressing violence and discrimination based on race and gender.
The centers also help to establish advocacy groups and leadership opportunities that, in turn, improve the quality of life in certain Madison neighborhoods, the representative said.
The council voted to allocate additional funding to these youth centers with no additional debate or dissenters.