The Model New York City Council Project was developed in 2002 by The City University of New York and council leaders. The Model Council Project provides a unique opportunity to develop and enhance leadership skills through experiential education for high school students. The Model Council Project brings more than 50 CUNY/College Now Program participants from high schools throughout New York City into the chamber of the New York City Council to debate and vote on public policies that concern New York City residents. For many, the Model Council is an introduction to government and public affairs at the municipal level.

The Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program in Government & Public Affairs develops an intensive training component and coordinates the Model Stated Meeting for CUNY. Before the Model Stated Meeting, the students are convened for training seminars that prepare them for their roles as model council members. In addition, students learn about the functions and processes of legislative democracy and the realities associated with policy making and representation in a diverse urban setting like New York City. They also acquire academic skills such as critical thinking, public speaking and argumentation. Below is a summary of the instructional topics covered during the weekly training seminars associated with the model council project:

  1. Week 1.     Project introduction and orientation; functions of legislators; pluralism and democracy in New York City.
  2. Week 2.     Legislative process in New York City; review of council districts and committees; role of leadership and constituent functions in the NYC Council; introduction to legislative issue.
  3. Week 3.     Council-mayor/agency relations; community boards and advocates; introduction to legislative issue; committee referral and review of legislative intro; legislative alternatives (amendments) introduced and debated; public committee hearings and public testimony.
  4. Week 4.     Committee review continued; final intro reported; planning and preparation for Model Stated Council Meeting (i.e., review floor procedures and etiquette).

Through direct participation in the process of legislative decision-making, Model Council participants are given the chance to further their organizational, research and public speaking skills, as well as the opportunity to learn about the operations of New York City government from its practitioners. By working on a legislative agenda that they develop in part, the students play a central role in their own pursuit of a public-service education. Moreover, they are introduced to a “hands-on” approach to involvement in the political and policy processes that affect them, their families and their communities.

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Model Council Yearbook Pictures

You can view the full-size images by clicking on a photo.