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Youth Speak Out on Local Issues in Project Soapbox Competition

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The Delaware Community Foundation (DCF), in partnership with Rodel, teamed up with Mikva Challenge in sponsoring a competition for Delaware youth to present their ideas on local issues. On Tuesday, May 28, 2019, at Cab Calloway School of the Arts, six middle schools participated in the Project Soapbox competition.

Mikva Challenge is a nonprofit organization that started as a volunteer group working on an electoral engagement project in four schools. It has since flourished into a dynamic range of “Action Civics” programs. Mikva Challenge created Project Soapbox as a platform for underrepresented youth to participate in civic conversations as a means to empower youth and promote an equitable society.

“If we’re going to address the opportunity gap in America, we need to provide additional support to kids who aren’t getting it at home or in their neighborhood,” DCF President & CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay said. “Most importantly, we need them to know their voices matter and are heard.”

Students researched an issue within their local community, then crafted and presented an original speech. The audience included a panel of judges made up of Delaware educators, philanthropists and other state leaders including Rep. Kim Williams, Rep. Gerald Brady, Rep. Mike Smith, Sen. Tizzy Lockman and Sen. Anthony Delcollo.

Eighty students courageously participated in the semifinals at Cab Calloway, highlighting issues such as the opioid crisis and teen pregnancy. Ava Barton from Cab Calloway took first place in the final round with her speech on net neutrality, while the second and third place winners focused on human trafficking and gun violence.

“The future of our country, our city, our community has to do with people knowing how to get engaged with their communities,” Comstock-Gay said. “Project Soapbox is teaching kids how they can make change real and becoming confident in their voice is an essential part of that.”