Anthony D’Ambrosio, the 24-year-old Yale graduate who stunned local political observers with his first-place finish in the School Committee election last fall, has launched a new student-oriented initiative that is already generating significant audiences.
D’Ambrosio’s new venture is called the Young Leader Town Hall Program (YLTHP) and it has held virtual town meetings that have drawn more than 50 students, an auspicious debut.
As D’Ambrosio explains, the three main goals of the YLTHP are as follow:
• Promoting student and youth leadership engagement in Revere:
“Our students are budding young leaders and we want to facilitate their growth in that regard as best we can,” said D’Ambrosio. “We are to create the future leaders of this city and state. I think a lot of city officials would agree with me that’s a primary goal of a lot of what we do.”
• Elevating student voices:
“Our students inherently deserve to be heard,” said D’Ambrosio. “Freedom of speech and expression is a cornerstone of this country. In any social movement and in any movement at all in this country, people and especially students need to know that they can have open dialogue with people from all generations and all sorts of backgrounds in order to let their voices be heard.”
• Providing a more direct platform for younger leaders to engage with city leadership:
“Especially today in the era of coronavirus when public spaces are closed off and it’s hard to access traditional platforms of discourse, creating a space for younger citizens to engage with older members and formal leaders of the community is incredibly important,” said D’Ambrosio. “I don’t know where else it would happen in socially and politically turbulent times likes these. So it really is a top priority to create that platform and space where there is direct access between younger citizens and leadership in the city.”
How YLTHP was created:
D’Ambrosio said he met two Revere High students, Jason Acosta and Minnah Sheikh, during his campaign for School Committee.
“After I was elected, I met with Minnah and Jason with the primary goal of determining how we could make our elected officials more accessible to students in the city,” said D’Ambrosio. “COVID-19 wrecked a lot of our initial plans. Obviously the past few weeks have been pretty turbulent and a very clear need for discussion between younger residents and city officials became apparent. We decided to host Zoom calls that we called Youth Leadership Town Halls.”
The first town hall meeting was a massive success with more than 50 sign-ups. The meeting lasted more than three hours. School Committee member Carol Tye was one of the participants. “She’s amazing,” said D’Ambrosio. Dr. Lena Rockwood, assistant principal at Revere High and state representative candidate Joseph Gravellese also participated, according to D’Ambrosio.
“The whole purpose of these calls is to open up a space and a platform where budding leaders can discuss anything they want about social politics and accessibility to government,” said D’Ambrisio. “We want to build relationships between these future leaders in our city and people who are already formal leaders.”
Following are the comments of two of the student participants in Anthony D’Ambriosio’s Young Leader Town Hall Program:
Minnah Sheikh is a rising senior at Revere High School:
“One of the hardest things about being a young person is that often times, our voices aren’t necessarily heard. We don’t always get a seat at the table. Developing the Student Leadership Town Hall created that seat.
In essence, for the past few months, Anthony, Jason, and I have been working to address a need of our city’s youth: venues to be heard. As someone who grew up in Revere Public Schools, I am so incredibly proud and inspired by the passion for change so many RPS students exhibit. However, that passion isn’t always able to make it to city leaders. Organizing a Student Town Hall would allow for students to have conversations with people in positions of power. It would allow for them to voice their concerns and share their ideas. When Anthony reached out to Jason and I with the idea, it served as a reminder that our city officials want to listen just as much as we want to be heard. The matter of the fact was creating a connecting bridge.
Unfortunately, in the midst of organizing our first event, COVID-19 got in the way of our plans. Nonetheless, we moved the planning to a virtual platform. Anthony hosted the first Town Hall on June 3rd. The call was three hours of genuine conversation. Students were talking and the adults were listening. They were taking our feedback into account in order to construct ways to support student needs.
As a whole, it’s been absolutely incredible working with Anthony and Jason to elevate the voices of the future of our city.”
Jason Acosta is a Class of 2020 graduate of Revere High School and an incoming freshman at Dartmouth College:
“As I stood on the bandstand in front of all my fellow protesters, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support we received for our march. Above all else, what still lingers in my mind is how youth came together to organize this movement. I have been in the process of making active social change in Revere High School for the past four years. Within the past few months, I along with my amazing friend Minnah had been discussing with Anthony D’Ambrosio about the best course of action and needs of our students. He has continued to be a source of support, but I want to especially extend my thanks to all my fellow youth. We continue to see an uproar of support and action being taken, especially from minority-led organizations and voices. I am proud of the work that I, along with my fellow organizers, are doing, and we continue to look forward to progression in Revere and make our city a better place. “