The community’s youth leadership program S.K.I.L. (Southlake Kids Interested in Leadership), now in its third year, demonstrates year-after-year the power of partnership.
More than three years ago, Mayor Laura Hill envisioned a youth leadership program that would create better decision makers by engaging students in their community. From this vision, SKIL’s founding partners, the City of Southlake, Carroll Independent School District and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce, worked together to create a program that utilizes each group’s strengths to facilitate opportunities for advanced engagement by the City’s youth. The goal is to work with the students so that they become more than informants and contributors but are valued as collaborators and decision-makers.
In 2018, the program focused on utilizing key partnerships to engage the 20 student participants in both local and state governments as well as the local business community. This year, S.K.I.L. participants learned about City operations and worked with staff on the creation of a Youth Master Plan which will guide the City’s operations into the future as an element of its Comprehensive Master Plan. “Receiving input from S.K.I.L. was invaluable in helping us form recommendations for the plan,” said Ken Baker, the Senior Director of Planning & Development Services.
Understanding decision making at the State level is an important element of good civic engagement and leadership. An annual trip to Austin, to visit the Texas State Capitol, has become a cornerstone of the program. Thanks to the help of Representative Giovanni Capriglione, and his staff, the students are able to learn from experienced state leaders such as Texas Land Commission George P. Bush, State Demographer Lila Valencia and Chief of Staff to Governor Gregg Abbott, Luis Saenz about challenges and opportunities facing the State. Rep. Capriglione also spent time with the students and expressed his pleasure to able to host the students in Austin year after year.
S.K.I.L. focuses not only on government engagement but also on engagement with the business community. Students recently spent the day with a local business partner where they had the opportunity to be mentored by a business leader. This day of internship also allowed the students to briefly experience what it takes to operate a business in today’s competitive world. These partnerships with TD Ameritrade, AT&T, The Peabody Law Firm, First Financial Bank, Braxdale Travel, Southlake Style, Box Financial, Park Place Jaguar Land Rover, State Senator Kelly Hancock’s Office, Highland Landscaping and ProCore Fitness made it possible for the students to engage with business professionals across a wide variety of industries.
Since its inception in 2015, 60 students have participated in this program. Key partners from the local government and business community have come together with a common goal of providing experiences and educational opportunities that ultimately serve to bolster the decision-making and leadership capabilities of Southlake’s youth.
For more information about S.K.I.L. and how you can partner with this program visit https://www.cityofsouthlake.com/2460/SKIL.