Last week, Mayor Walsh announced the members of the incoming 2021 SPARK Boston Council, a group of 41 young adults — including eleven from Dorchester and Mattapan — that will work virtually over the next 12 months to open up new lines of communication between young adults and leaders in city government.
Originally launched as OnEin3 in 2004, SPARK Boston is celebrating 16 years of civic engagement with more than 400 Boston residents aged 20-35 having served on the council over the years.
“The 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 Walsh. “I look forward to working with the incoming Council to ensure that our young Bostonians voices are heard.”
The new council members live in 21 of the 24 Boston neighborhoods, and include people born and raised as far away as Pakistan and China. More than 65 percent of them are people of color and approximately 40 percent 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, which is housed in the Mayor’s Civic Engagement Cabinet, is responsible for advising the mayor on issues affecting the millennial and Gen Z populations, and for 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, among them neighborhood meetups, voter registration pop-ups, salary negotiation workshops, and Chief Chats, an event series that allows citizens to hear directly from Walsh’s cabinet members on a variety of issues.
Programming has moved online due to the 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 promoting proper mask usage, flu vaccines, voting, census participation, and more.
The 2021 Council members from Dorchester include: Kathleen Carroll, Nyambura Barrow, Anthony Nguyen, Dennisse Rorie, Romy St. Hilaire, Alia Thompson, Genevieve Bien-Aime, Antonio Centeio, and Stephen McBride. Members from Mattapan include Monee Vance and Daphney Pacouloute.
The program received 95 applications for the 2021Council, evidence of a continued interest in community engagement, despite the new virtual format. New council members, including academic counselors, students, non-profit workers, entrepreneurs, community leaders, medical professionals, and consultants, began their work on Jan. 4.