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Civic Engagement Day

Civic Engagement Day

Civic Engagement Day is a long-standing youth program of the MEC. Civic Engagement Day is an opportunity for youth to exercise their voices, advocate for educational issues, and utilize their leadership skills. The program allows middle school and high school students an experience to meet with elected officials in Tucson and/or Phoenix.

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Teen Town Hall

Teen Town Hall

The Teen Town Hall, led by the Metropolitan Education Commission’s (MEC) Youth Advisory Council, brings together students from the City of Tucson and Pima County to express their concerns on topics of their choice to community leaders such as elected officials, school superintendents, high school principals, law enforcement representatives, and the MEC Commissioners.

The Teen Town Hall offers youth an opportunity to discuss any issue they have on their minds, and for community leaders to listen, and gain a greater understanding of what is taking place in schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

Over the years, the Teen Town Hall events have served as catalysts for positive change. Examples of outcomes include the revision of curfew laws, the establishment of teen centers in neighborhoods, and visits to the Arizona State Capitol to meet with legislators regarding education funding, teacher retention, school counselor shortages, and mental health services.

2023 Teen Town Hall

Dialogue Circle Discussion Topics
  • Mental Health, Youth Suicide and Support Systems
  • Inequality and Inequity
  • Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Violence
  • College Access and Career Readiness
  • Civic Engagement, Leadership, and Social Justice

Mental Health Matters

Read a reflection by two Pima County Public Library teen librarians on why Mental Health Matters.”

Both attended the 27th Annual Teen Town Hall and reflect upon the comments they heard from Tucson and Pima County youth about the salience of mental health and wellbeing in their lives today.

Annual Teen Town Hall Report

27th Annual Report

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Crystal Apple Awards

Crystal Apple Awards

The MEC is delighted to honor outstanding educators, counselors, administrators, community leaders, and students every year within the City of Tucson and Pima County. Prior to the pandemic, an awards luncheon was held at the Desert Diamond Casino which brought together over 300 community members, business leaders, elected officials, educators, and students to recognize the exemplary educational work and service demonstrated by members of our community. Since the pandemic, award recipients have been presented their individual Crystal Apple award at their respective institution during National Teacher Appreciation Week, typically the first week of May.
2022-2023 Crystal Apple Awardees

Lifetime Achievement Award
Adelita Grijalva, Pima County Supervisor/Chair/Commissioner
Dr. June Webb-Vignery Advocate Award
Governor Katie Hobbs, The State of Arizona
Outstanding Teacher
John Contreras, Pueblo High School
Outstanding Youth
Casandra Chavarria, Sunnyside High School
Honorable Mention
Sarai Juarez, Sunnyside High School
Outstanding Student Leader
Hakima Abdulkadir, Sunnyside High School
Outstanding Counselor
Ashley Tellez, Desert View High School
Outstanding Higher Education Advocate
Dr. Alexei Marquez, The University of Arizona
Outstanding Education Advocate
Roberto Cruze, TUSD
Outstanding Community Partner
The Center for Community Mediation & Facilitation

  • Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Ashley Tellez

  • Casandra Chavarria Sarai Juarez Hakima Abdulkadir

  • Dr Alexei Marquez

  • Roberto Cruz

  • John Contreras

  • John Contreras 2

  • Roberto Cruz

2021-2022 Crystal Apple Awardees

Outstanding Teacher
Kelly Strayer
Sabina Vaswani
Outstanding Youth
Amber Hammerquist
Outstanding Student Leader
Audrey Alameda
Yamileth Rodriguez
Outstanding Counselor
Tanisha Tatum
Outstanding University Advocate
Dr. Kasey Urquidez
Outstanding Education Advocate
Dr. Matt Matera
Outstanding Corporate Award
Junior Achievement

  • Amber Hammerquist

  • Amber Hammerquist 2 Copy

  • Amber Hammerquist 3 Copy

  • Audrey 2022 Awardee

  • Kasey 2022 Awardee

  • Kelly Strayer Copy

  • Kelly Strayer 2

  • Tanisha 2022 Awardee

Read more …Crystal Apple Awards

Key to Employment

Key to Employment

The MEC emphasizes the development of workforce skills.

The MEC emphasizes the development of workforce skills. We facilitate access to career preparation resources and promote the development of a highly qualified, diverse workforce. In service of this mission, members of the MEC and RCAC work together to address the barriers related to higher education and workforce development.

One of the Metropolitan Education Commission's signature events is the Key to Employment. This workforce and educational resource event has been held at The University of Arizona and Pima Community College, bringing over 500 high school students to explore STEM related careers and learn more about higher education pathways and 200 exhibitors. Since the pandemic has entered our lives, the Key to Employment has not occurred in person.

The 24th Annual Key to Employment Symposium was held on Tuesday, April 4, 2023 from 8am-Noon at the Downtown Campus, utilizing the Amethyst Room, classrooms, and outside pavilion. Over 50 Exhibitors participated, including various higher education institutions and STEM disciplines. 150 youth participated from 5 different high schools (Andrada High School, Catalina High School, Mountain View High School, and Sunnyside High School) and noted these highlights: PCC Campus Tour, students learning about hospitality, health care, and EMT through classroom presentations and demonstrations.

Key to Employment video production by:
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Youth Advisory Council

Youth Advisory Council

The MEC promotes youth leadership and engagement through several events where youth take charge in the planning, participating, and organizing the event.

The MEC’s Annual Teen Town Hall allows youth to discuss the main issues brought forth by students where they set the stage for topics that will be addressed with Arizona Legislators during Civic Engagement Day.

Examples of issues include the loss of teachers, classes, electives, and school programs resulting from the lack of education funding; standardized testing issues; and more recently COVID-19.

The Youth Advisory Council/Tucson Teen Congress travels to the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix each year, and meets with Arizona State legislators in order to discuss these issues.

Youth Advisory Council 2023-2024

Meeting Schedule

The YAC meets the second Sunday of every month from 4-5PM at the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Center.

  • Fall 2023 Meeting Dates

    • September 10, 2023
    • October 8, 2023
    • November 12, 2023
    • December 10, 2023
  • Spring 2024 Meeting Dates

    • January 14, 2024
    • February 11, 2024
    • March 10, 2024
    • April 14, 2024
    • May 12, 2024

YAC Leadership

  • President

    Emilia Kim

  • Vice President

    Christopher Amanat

    Christopher Amanat is a senior at BASIS Tucson North. He is most passionate about improving education inequity in our community and centering the voices of his fellow students within local and state government. He is also the founder of his school's social justice and cultural awareness club Students for Unity where he encourages students to share their stories and take action for the causes they are most passionate about.

  • Secretary

    Nina Raju

  • Treasurer

    Joyeuse Mujambere

YAC 23-24 Online Application

The YAC 2023-2024 Student Application is now open. 
All youth ages 12 to 25 are eligible to apply.

Welcome to the Youth Advisory Council Application for the 2023-2024 SY! If you are here, this means you are a driven student leader who is interested in being an important changemaker in the education system. Please fill out this application if the following applies to you:

I am most interested and willing to commit my time and effort to service on the Metropolitan Education Commission's Youth Advisory Council that provides youth/student input in developing recommendations as to policies and programs designed to improve the quality of education throughout Pima County.

Personal Information

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Demographic Information

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YAC Application Questions

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