Incoming members tasked with promoting civic engagement among young Bostonians virtually
|BOSTON – Wednesday, December 30, 2020 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the incoming Mayor’s 2021 SPARK Boston Council. The diverse 41-member group, composed of 33 new and eight returning members, will spend the next 12 months working to continue the program’s work virtually, opening up new lines of communication between young adults and leaders in City government. Originally started as ONEin3 in 2004, SPARK Boston is celebrating 16 years of civic engagement with over 400 20- to 35-year-old Boston residents having served on the council over the years. Thirty-nine percent of Boston residents were between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2018, according to the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s Boston by the Numbers 2020 report.
"The SPARK Council has worked with my administration to highlight and advocate for their shared values – voter participation and activation, a more equitable and affordable child care system, comprehensive climate change policies, resiliency in our immigrant communities, and much more," said Mayor Walsh. "I look forward to working with the incoming SPARK Boston Council to ensure our young Bostonians voices are heard."
The 2021 SPARK Boston Council members live in 21 of the 24 different Boston neighborhoods, and include people born and raised as far away as Pakistan and China. Over 65 percent of council members are people of color. Approximately 40 percent of the Council are native Bostonians, while others are from Texas, Ohio, Florida, New York, and California.
"I am so excited to engage this council virtually," said SPARK Director Audrey Seraphin of her new colleagues. "They have completed the entire application and interview process through the technologies that have allowed us to connect throughout the pandemic, and I look forward to seeing this cohort’s creativity and passion in action. We have an incredibly talented group that highlights how bright Boston’s future can be."
SPARK Boston, housed in the Mayor’s Civic Engagement Cabinet, is responsible for advising Mayor Walsh on issues affecting millennial and Gen Z populations, and working with City departments and community stakeholders to improve the lives of young people in Boston. The Council holds monthly meetings and puts on programs focused on connecting millennials with the City and one another. Historically, programs included many events, including neighborhood meetups, voter registration pop-ups, salary negotiation workshops, and Chief Chats, an event series which allows citizens to hear directly from Mayor Walsh’s cabinet members on a variety of issues. This programming has moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and expanded to include virtual town halls; #CiviCoffees, a 30-minute monthly Facebook Live interview show with local civic leaders; and social media campaigns to promote proper mask usage, flu vaccines, voting, census participation, and more.
"Coming back to SPARK Council is how I’m choosing to respond to this moment in time," explained returning council member Anita Yip of Chinatown. "I see 2021 as an opportunity to not only create and continue conversations for change, but also an opportunity to reimagine civic engagement and ways to meaningfully connect with each other. I’m looking forward to continuing conversations on how Boston is increasing access to opportunities and driving inclusive economic growth in the wake of the pandemic with a focus on equity."
"When I heard the news that I was selected to be part of the SPARK Boston 2021 Council, I was elated and overcome with joy because an opportunity like this will cement my path to making a substantial difference in the city of Boston," said Bassil Bascare, new council member and native of Hyde Park. "I am eager to be part of a group that has the drive to initiate change for the better. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with the rest of the council."
This year, the SPARK Boston program received 95 applications for the Council, showing a continued interest in community engagement, despite the new virtual format. New council members, which include academic counselors, students, non-profit workers, entrepreneurs, community leaders, medical professionals, and consultants, will begin their work on January 4, 2021.
Returning 2019-2020 Council
New 2021 Council
For more information, please visit boston.gov/sparkboston.