It's all about Youth Newsletter

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iowa department of human rights

It's all about Youth







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    Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning Advisory Council

    Juvenile Justice Advisory Council

    We are hiring

    We have one AmeriCorps Position

    Iowa Youth Congress Coordinator

      PAYMENT and BENEFITS: AmeriCorps members receive a MODEST annual living stipend of $6,634 plus an educational award. 

      Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume to   AND

      Human Rights Youth Chapters

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      Has your youth organization signed up to become an Iowa Human Rights Youth Chapter (IHRYChapter)?

      The IHRYChapters are youth (14 to 24 years of age) who are committed to creating awareness, education and advocacy for Human Rights in their local communities across Iowa. 

      Iowa Human Rights Youth Chapters get to:

      • Become an official Iowa Department of Human Rights partner.
      • Address their local Human Rights needs by developing and delivering youth led local activities, forums, campaigns, rallies, etc.
      • Participate in the Annual Statewide Human Rights Campaign in December
      • Highlight their chapter’s activities statewide.
      • Participate in a statewide Human Rights Awareness Campaign 

      Does your organization or club want to become an official Iowa Human Rights Youth Chapter? Contact Sonia Reyes-Snyder at


      DHR's Youth Spotlight


      Congratulations to SIYAC member Morgan Fritz is the recipient of the 2018 E. Wayne Cooley Scholarship.

      SIYAC & IYC Day on the Hill


      Both SIYAC and IYC held their Day on the Hill event on January 31st. This year the students were able to attend subcommittee meetings and talk to Legislators. They advocated for many health and education issues such as: mental health/suicide prevention training for school staff, raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21, sexual assault prevention courses in schools, net neutrality, allergy management guidelines in schools, and mandatory financial literacy courses in high schools.

      SIYAC is a non-partisan policy advising organization comprised of young people from across Iowa between the ages of 14 and 20.The purpose of SIYAC is to foster communication among a group of engaged youth and the Governor, general assembly, and state and local policymakers regarding programs, policies, and practices affecting youth and families; and to advocate for youth on important issues affecting youth.

      IYC Youth from Ottumwa

      IYC seeks up to 100 underrepresented Iowa high school youth (e.g. minority youth, youth in poverty, and youth with special needs) ages 15-18, to participate in a year-long program which provides students the knowledge, abilities, and direction to advocate and enact change in their communities and at the state-level for issues affecting youth.


      IYC is a diverse and dynamic group of student representatives. Approximately 56% of IYC members identify as a racial minority, 22% of whom identify Asian and 17.5% as Latino. About 63% of IYC members are female and 37% are male.

      Words from our youth

      SIYAC: Where Student Voice Shines

      SIYAC (State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council) has been one of my most memorable experiences throughout high school. As students we can strive to work hard in school, read a lot, and volunteer, but SIYAC showed me the fourth important component: advocacy. Through SIYAC, my fellow council members and I have gained invaluable public speaking skills and learned to reach across the aisle. The experience has been one steeped in confidence. It’s been a reminder that pressure can be viewed as a privilege rather than a burden. Although pursuing legislation can be a challenge, it’s a crucial step toward being cognizant of the issues that form the core of our state. Three vital education issues SIYAC is pursuing this year include: 

      • Student Liaisons on Schools Boards (HR 12)

      As an organization that resonates deeply with the power of student voice, SIYAC has decided to pursue the Student Liaisons on School Boards (HR 12) to help foster that very mission. Like the Iowa State Board of Education, which currently has one student non-voting member, SIYAC believes that this idea should extend to local school boards. This initiative, widely practiced in California, has gained a 50% adoption policy. By considering a similar policy, Iowa school districts can help students gain a better hold of their education. From the student perspective, it would be an opportunity to forge a connection and learn the intricacies behind the district-wide decisions.

      Another critical issue SIYAC is ardently pursuing this year is suicide prevention (HF352/SF2004). Although high school years can be stressful, it’s very devastating to see it as a catalyst for students ending their lives. SIYAC’s position on this issue calls for suicide prevention training for school district faculty, the formation of a suicide prevention advisory board, and the creation of a suicide action plan that would enable schools to communicate regarding youth suicide. With no current mandating laws in efforts of suicide prevention in Iowa, this legislation would be a massive step forward in preventing the second leading cause of student death in the state.

      The final pressing educational issue SIYAC is pursuing this year involves the Extension of the 1% SAVE (Secure Advancement Value Education) tax in Iowa till 2049. SAVE has been central to the initiatives across the Dubuque Community School District, including the construction of Dalzell Field, the implementation of new bus systems, and the construction of two school buildings (Roosevelt Middle School and Carver elementary School). For schools across Iowa to borrow against the projected money from the sales tax they need at least 20 years of future funding. Right now, they have much less time for future funds to be guaranteed through the sales tax (SAVE), which is set to expire in 2029. This bonding issue with the current sunset holds back many initiatives that schools across Iowa have planned. SIYAC’s goal is to save the SAVE tax and boost opportunities for students by doing so.

      To every young high school student who wants to gain exposure to issues that shape the lives of youth across Iowa, apply to be a part of next year’s SIYAC. If you’re craving the chance to enunciate your beliefs, then SIYAC is for you. Advocacy can begin with one person, but it fulfills goals as a whole. Join the student initiative and push our state to excel. But, most of all, give back to the school districts that work tirelessly to give you the irreplaceable gift of education.  For more information on SIYAC and to apply for next year’s council, visit the website.


      By Sibani Ram, junior at Dubuque Senior High School

      Iowa Department of Human Rights 

      Lucas State Office Building 
      321 E 12th St., Des Moines, IA 50319

      Phone 515-242-5655
      Fax (515) 242-6119

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