United Voices Takes Capitol Leadership Academy to DC, Tallahassee

Tampa-based United Voices for America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic engagement organization dedicated to increasing minority and immigrant participation in political leadership, is seeking applications for two summer youth programs.

"The U.S. would benefit greatly by having a more inclusive government. Not just one that serves minorities and people of color, but also one that includes them in the leadership," says Founder Ahmed Bedier in advocating for greater diversity among lawmakers and people in power.

The Capitol Leadership Academy, a project of United Voices for America, started in Tampa in 2009. The CLA is a summer intensive program for youth ages 15-24. The program equips young minorities from around the country with tools to "take civic action, run for office, engage directly with policy makers, and network with like-minded young people.''

From interactive workshops and mock sessions, to hands-on training from working professionals in the field of politics, students are taught  how to begin a career in politics, fundamentals to be implemented into grassroots organizing, public speaking, debating and leadership skills. The goal is to encourage students to leave feeling empowered and excited to engage in the political process.

Bedier points out that diversity in leadership creates a better representation of society and democracy. "It empowers those minorities rather than looking to appeal to the people in power; they themselves become empowered and they start providing solutions for their own problems," says Bedier.

There will be two summer class offerings in 2010, one in Washington, D.C. and one in Tallahassee so that CLA can incorporate real "Capitol" into its programs.

The Washington program, focusing on "Politics and National Security,'' is scheduled from July 19-23, and will be held at American University.

The Tallahassee program, "Advanced Campaigning and the Legislative Process,'' will be at Florida State University and runs from Aug. 2-6.

Scholarships are available for both programs.

Writer: Nancy Vaughn
Source: Ahmed Bedier, Capitol Leadership Academy

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