Connect with Us

Community Forum

Community Forum

Youth As an Untapped Resource

Overview

Overview

The annual Siena College Community Forum is an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, volunteers, and local community members to come together and discuss important issues challenging Albany area youth. In a day long discussion, participants make connections and develop action plans for collaborative community work that addresses these challenges. Notable key note speakers, presenters, and guests are also invited to discuss the most current pressing issues.

The last Community Forum took place on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 and was a huge success. Mark your calendars for the next Community Forum in March 2016.

2015 Community Forum Materials

Topic Areas

Topic Areas

The last Community Forum took place on February 11, 2015. During the afternoon and morning sessions, participants explored a variety of topics that related to current policies affecting Albany area youth. 

Morning Sessions - Participants explored various topics relevant to high school and college change. Some mini-workshops included “being an Ally”, LGTBQ youth, and the Real Food Challenge.

Afternoon Sessions - Participants focused on current policies that affect youth locally. Students, faculty, community organizations, and community organizers came together to dicuss these issue areas:

  • Youth and incarceration
  • Environmental activism
  • Student loan debt and college access
  • Policies of inclusion (LGBTQ)
  • Voter Registration Policies
  • Food Access/Food Insecurity

How to Get Involved

How to Get Involved

The Community Forum is a day to celebrate our youth as leaders! Our aim is to help create a space where students can go beyond understanding what policy is and identify ways to create meaningful change through changing policy at institutional, local and national levels. There are multiple ways for you to get involved with this forum and we are so happy to work with you.

We will be recruiting forum volunteers for the next Community Forum starting Fall 2015.

What can be your specific role?

Here are some ways that you can get involved. This list is not complete and there are certainly more ways. Reach out to Ruth Kassel rkassel@siena.edu with questions and ideas.

VISTA Fellow

  1. Assemble a team of high school or college students to work with and mentor them through the process. You would need to get a team assembled by January 9th and work with them to create a mission statement and to research the current policies affecting that change so they will be prepared to hit the ground running.
  2. Sign up to mentor our student facilitators. Each team will have 2-3 Siena students assigned to them. These students will create the facilitation activities that will get the teams thinking and moving quickly toward action plans. You would need to attend 2 class sessions (held Wednesday from 1:30 - 3:00) to get to know your team and familiarize yourself with the facilitation plan. On the day of the forum you will serve as a mentor and additional support to the facilitation team.
  3. Help us to identify the best community experts to run afternoon sessions. Contact Ruth Kassel rkassel@siena.edu with questions and ideas.

High School Student

  1. Assemble a team of peers around an issue, participate in the full day.
  2. Join an existing team (check the website for up to date information on teams) and be ready to create change in your own school and community.

College Student 

  1. Assemble a team of peers around an issue, participate in the full day.
  2. Join an existing team (check the website for up to date information on teams) and be ready to create change in your own school and community.
  3. Attend the afternoon policy discussions.
  4. Become a facilitator on the day of the Forum. Forum facilitators create and implement all of the activities that the morning teams go through and help to facilitate afternoon workshops and discussions. All Facilitators take COMD120: Facilitating Community Change.

Faculty

  1. Assemble a team of high school or college students to work with and mentor them through the process. You would need to get a team assembled and work with them to create a mission statement and to research the current policies affecting that change so they will be prepared to hit the ground running.
  2. Join a morning team as a mentor, attend afternoon workshops, listen to youth, be ready to support plans that are created in the morning sessions.
  3. Help run an afternoon workshop and discussion with a community expert on that topic. This afternoon discussion includes a short workshop that introduces a broad audience to the topic and leading a discussion that helps to empower high school and college students as leaders.
  4. Help us to identify the best community experts to run afternoon sessions. Contact Ruth Kassel rkassel@siena.edu with questions and ideas.
  5. Attend the afternoon policy discussions as participant.

Teachers

  1. Assemble a team of high school or college students to work with and mentor them through the process. You would need to get a team assembled and work with them to create a mission statement and to research the current policies affecting that change so they will be prepared to hit the ground running.
  2. Join a morning team as a mentor, attend afternoon workshops, listen to youth, be ready to support plans that are created in the morning sessions.
  3. Help run an afternoon workshop and discussion with a community expert on that topic. This afternoon discussion includes a short workshop that introduces a broad audience to the topic and leading a discussion that helps to empower high school and college students as leaders.
  4. Help us to identify the best community experts to run afternoon sessions. Contact Ruth Kassel rkassel@siena.edu with questions and ideas.
  5. Attend the afternoon policy discussions as participant.

High School and College Administrators

  1. Assemble a team of high school or college students to work with and mentor them through the process. You would need to get a team assembled by January 9th and work with them to create a mission statement and to research the current policies affecting that change so they will be prepared to hit the ground running.
  2. Join a morning team as a mentor, attend afternoon workshops, listen to youth, be ready to support plans that are created in the morning sessions.
  3. Help run an afternoon workshop and discussion with a community expert on that topic. This afternoon discussion includes a short workshop that introduces a broad audience to the topic and leading a discussion that helps to empower high school and college students as leaders.
  4. Attend the afternoon policy discussions as participant.
  5. Help us to identify the best community experts to run afternoon sessions. Contact Ruth Kassel rkassel@siena.edu with questions and ideas.

Community Organizations

  1. Assemble a team of high school or college students to work with and mentor them through the process. You would need to get a team assembled and work with them to create a mission statement and to research the current policies affecting that change so they will be prepared to hit the ground running.
  2. Observe or join a morning team (optional), attend afternoon sessions, look for ways to partner with Siena college on some of the issues discussed.
  3. Deliver a 15-minute workshop on a program that your organization runs
  4. Attend the afternoon policy discussions as participant.
  5. Help us to identify the best community experts to run afternoon sessions. Contact Ruth Kassel rkassel@siena.edu with questions and ideas.

FAQ

FAQ

How are “teams” formed?
Teams can be created by a teacher, administrator, a community leader or a student. The most important part is that each team come prepared to discuss a change that it wants to make and create an action plan around that change.

Who should be on a team?
Ideally teams will have 5-7 students and 2-3 faculty/administrators. If you have a topic formed but need help finding additional people, please reach out to us! Some of the topics in the past have revolved around bullying, school climate, healthy relationships, political activism, environmental sustainability, and issues of diversity & inclusion just to name a few.

What team topics are accepted?
Any issue that has the potential to create long-term positive change in your institution and that is important to you, your peers and/or the students you work with is game. We are happy to help you brainstorm how your ideas can translate into a team topic.

What are afternoon the issue areas? How are the issue areas decided?
As much as possible, the afternoon issue areas are chosen to compliment and support the discussions happening in the morning. All afternoon topics, though, are also designed to stand alone as a discussion.

Who will be running the discussions?
The morning sessions are run by Siena College students who are trained as facilitators. Most are Seniors who major in Education and Social Work and are highly interested in working with youth both as part of the forum and as a career choice.

Should I attend the whole day? Can I attend part?
Anyone on a team is expected to attend the whole day. People who are not on a team can attend the afternoon only or can observe a team in the morning and attend a discussion in the afternoon.

Is there food?
All team participants will have a working lunch. People who attend the afternoon will be have an afternoon coffee break with light refreshments.

What are the expected outcomes of the day?
As with any forum, we hope to encourage greater connection between colleges, high schools and community organizations around the issues of the forum. We also hope that the teams who create action plans will be ready to go back to their institutions to fully implement their ideas. Finally, we hope that the people who are most interested in the topics being discussed can start to work with the organizations and government agencies in a structured way through mentoring and programming.

Will there be any follow up?
For the teams who are interested, we will organize some follow up activities in the spring to keep up on project activities and inform the other teams on team progress. The facilitators of the forum are available to continue to facilitate the discussion at a later date either here at Siena or at the home institution.

Any other questions? Please let us know by emailing Ruth Kassel at rkassel@siena.edu.

Location and Directions

Location and Directions

Directions: Click here
Campus Map: Click here

Contact Us

Contact Us

Do you have any questions or would like more information? Let us know! Please email Ruth Kassel at rkassel@siena.edu.

Connect with Us