Our Work

The Cambridge Youth Council are some of Cambridge's most effective and creative civic leaders. We provide a youth voice to the most pressing conversations in the city and put forward our own policy ideas to both the School Department and City Council. 

Annually, we support the Incoming Freshman Information Night at CRLS  with CRLS STARs and the Mentoring Program; we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through food drives, and most recently, our new annual fundraiser with the CRLS Black Student Union. 

And we represent the City of Cambridge as delegates at the National League of Cities Conference. (This is always a highlight of the year. We get to work with youth delegates from around the country to explore solutions to city issues. We also get to spend time with our Mayor and other elected officials. And visit museums and eat at crazy Italian restaurants.)

In the past, we have participated in focus groups held by Cambridge Public Schools regarding extending the length of the school day and the Nellie Mae Building Equity Bridges grant; the Cambridge Public Health Department; and Envision Cambridge. Members of our group have attended the Massachusetts Women’s Conference, Sparkshare Summits to share best practices, success, and project ideas with youth councils in Greater Boston, Dignity in Schools meetings, among many others. 

Every year, the Council decides on subcommittee projects that align with our goals. See below for what we've been working on lately!

Annual Traditions

Annual Traditions

Incoming 9th Grade Information Night

CYC collaborates with CRLS STARs and the Mentoring Program by participating in the Incoming Freshman Information Night at CRLS. CYC members share advice on how to start off high school strong.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

National League of Cities Youth Delegates 

CYC members represent the City of Cambridge at the National League of Cities Conference in Washington DC. They spend their time working with youth delegates from around the country to explore solutions to city issues. During the conference they learn from other youth councils about what issues they are facing as well as share what they have been working on. One of the highlights is  getting to know their Cambridge city councilors and department heads.

(CYC could not go to Washington DC in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID, but they are resuming the trip in 2023.)

Support the Community

Connecting with communities by attending

Current Projects

Currently, CYC is working on these initiatives: 

Mental Health

In 2023, we created and launch a new mental health resources by students, for students, called Youth Headspace. To ensure this resource was accessible to all students, we partnered with RSTA and Falcon Block to distribute our sticker pack with QR codes to the site. We also hosted a free, family-friendly movie night at Starlight Square, because we believe getting together as a community is part of taking care of ourselves and our mental health. 

Homelessness Advocacy

Our advocacy resulted in the successful adoption of Policy Order #57 by the City Council. Now, free menstrual products are provided in all gender bathrooms of the Cambridge Public Library branches and fire stations.  

Business Pathways

The Business Pathways subcommittee created a new way for local companies to reach out to students with opportunities for work and volunteering.

Past Accomplishments


Since 2019, the Cambridge Youth Council has focused on three major initiatives: 

Mental Health

Free MBTA Passes for High School Students

Vote 16

CYC worked with other groups advocating to lower the voting age so 16-year olds can vote in municipal elections. They also spoke at public comment at the state house and encouraged the City Council to pass a home rule position to lower the voting age.

Youth-Only Pre-Election Discussion

Organized a Zoom event for youth across the city of Cambridge to discuss the election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. They reviewed the policy platform for each candidate as well as a brief overview of the electoral college. 


Books for Success!

In an effort to close the opportunity gap, CYC held a test prep book drive and collected enough books to set up a “library” in the school’s College and Career Resource Center. They set up a system for students to borrow these books rather than spending a lot of money purchasing them. 

Update: The “library” was disbanded after a couple of years due to inactivity.

Microaggressions in the Classroom at CRLS

Developed a survey about student experiences of microaggressions in the classroom and approached the administration to talk about how microaggressions were reported and the follow-up that should happen. They had several meetings which culminated with a new reporting mechanism and a promise by administration that follow up would happen in a timely manner. CYC also spoke at several School Committee meetings in support of the Black Student Union’s efforts to bring awareness to the mistreatment of black students in the classroom and their demand that change occur. 

FAFSA Scholarship Workshops

CYC members worked with Emily Singer from the Office of College Success to help make sure all seniors fill out the FAFSA form so that more students get financial assistance. 

What does CP, Honors, AP and Leveling Up mean?

CYC created a document that explains what Honors, College Prep, Level Up, and Advanced Classes mean. This one page information sheet was translated into different languages in hopes this will help inform families that normally have a difficult time receiving this information.  

Amending the AV10 Policy at CRLS

CYC proposed an amendment to the AV10 (Attendance Violation with a 10 percent grade reduction penalty) policy at CRLS. The current system penalized students the same for being 1 minute late or 20 minutes late. They believe a minute system should be implemented, which means the number of minutes you are late would be recorded. If a student had 12 unexcused tardies their grade in the class goes down by one grade (A to B, B- to C-, etc.). They concluded that students should be able to “buy” back time with their teachers. They advocated to the CRLS administration and the School Committee for this policy change.



Community Workshops Addressing Racism

CYC planned a series of workshops throughout the school year. All the workshops were well-attended by many students and adult supporters. 

Ballin in the Bridge

CYC organized an event at Sennott park. They had a food truck and organized a basketball game - youth vs. police officers. It was attended by many young people and adult supporters.

Supporting Middle School Students Transition to High School

Worked with middle school students to help them with their transition to high school, understand what to expect when they get there, and how to get involved and engaged.

Relationships Between High School Students and Teachers

Focused on improving student-teacher communications and helping students build relationships with their teachers, so that students can be in charge of their success and feel confident in their academic abilities. First, they surveyed students and teachers to get a sense of how students advocate and communicate with teachers. Then they created prompt cards that had suggestions on how to start talking to teachers in various situations: to check in, to improve and to prepare for an upcoming test. The prompt cards took two forms: a large, laminated poster to hang in classrooms and a small quarter-size page for students to take with them. 

CYC asked teachers to hand out cards to students and hang up posters. They continued to revisit classrooms to remind them about the cards and posters. They also distributed flyers with resources that support students at a number of events. 

Family Engagement 

Worked with Heather Weiss and the Harvard Family Research Project on family engagement issues.  The Harvard Family Research Project is using what they have learned to further their work on family engagement.  

Created a presentation based on their perspectives of family engagement and presented their findings to the Family Policy Council, Cambridge School Committee, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Council. 

Global Family Research Project Blog (August 2017)

Youth Taking Leading Roles: Defining and Improving Family Engagement