PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Youth Commission, the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, and Temple University School of Social Work hosted The GroupChat: A Safer Philadelphia, an initiative dedicated to engaging youth on the most pressing issues affecting the city and an extension of the Culture Shifters Collective. The discussion took place yesterday, April 11, at Temple University’s Howard Gittis Student Center.

Since 2020, the Culture Shifters Collective have introduced a number of forward-facing community conversations and editions of “The GroupChat” including Youth Power the Vote, Philadelphia Union, Midterm Elections, and now, A Safer Philadelphia.

The GroupChat: A Safer Philadelphia provides a community-wide conversation about keeping Philadelphia safe and connects young people to city and community resources. Topics vary from highlighting the importance of voting and youth civic engagement to gun violence and public safety. These discussions are meant to empower youth and encourage them to imagine what Philadelphia can accomplish when we come together toward a common cause and work to establish a city where everyone has a seat at the table.

“The City of Philadelphia needs young people now more than ever,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Tough and complex issues such as gun violence and public safety can only be solved when we include their voices, ideas, and suggestions. That is why I am proud of initiatives like The GroupChat: A Safer Philadelphia and the many others that are dedicated to cultivating inspiring spaces where youth have the opportunity to make a real difference.”

By bringing together youth, educational institutions, and community partners to collaborate, share their experiences and ideas, and spend time listening and learning from one another, The GroupChat: A Safer Philadelphia is about being deliberate when it comes to including young voices and taking crucial steps toward creating a brighter and safer Philadelphia.

“We are so incredibly honored to be a part of this initiative with our partners at Temple,” said shares Jeanette Bavwidinsi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement. “It is past time that the city-at-large sees that our youngest residents can not only speak up for themselves as it pertains to the issues they face daily, but that they are also a consistent and relevant source for recommendations and solutions at the policy level. Our youth are fully equipped to engage in these complex conversations, and we are humbled by every opportunity to do this work beside them.”

“Engaging young Philadelphians in these conversations is a critical step for creating positive change within our city,” said Dr. DaVonti’ Haynes, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work at Temple University. “By providing youth a platform for open and intentional dialogue and discussion, we can empower the next generation of Philadelphia leaders to take an active role in shaping the future of Philadelphia and addressing the challenges that affect our city.”

“As the Chair of the Philadelphia Youth Commission and a student of Temple University I am proud to help lead this space where students can come together,” said Jessica Bernal-Camejo, Chair of the Philadelphia Youth Commission. “This is an environment where the young people of our city can speak freely and discuss what we can do to keep our communities safe.”

Using the hashtag #PHLGroupChat, co-hosts will chronicle the experiences of participants as they engage their peers and become more civically engaged Philadelphians.

Young people who are interested in making a positive change in their communities can join the Culture Shifters Collective by signing up today. To become a member of the Philadelphia Youth Commission, apply here.


About the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement
The Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement (OYE) was created in 2017 to be a megaphone for the voices of young people in Philadelphia. OYE does this by creating original programming, providing policy recommendations, forging relevant partnerships, and elevating the amazing work of Philadelphia’s youth & youth-serving organizations. OYE houses the Philadelphia Youth Commission and the Millennial Advisory Committee. Follow @PHLYouth on Twitter and Instagram.

About the Philadelphia Youth Commission
The Philadelphia Youth Commission (PYC) is made up of 21 Commissioners ages 12-23. PYC works with City government, community organizations, nonprofits and private entities to improve the lives of Gen-Z Philadelphians by: 1) Advising the Mayor, City Council, the Philadelphia School District, and other decision-makers on issues relating to young people, 2) Consulting on legislation and policies that impact youth, 3) Creating programs and public spaces for co-design & collaboration, 4) Monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of the City’s youth-focused programs and policies, and 5) Developing and maintaining relevant community partnerships to increase youth civic participation.

About Temple University School of Social Work
Established in 1969, the School of Social Work at Temple University is dedicated to societal transformations and committed to eliminating social, political and economic injustices for oppressed populations and advancing the quality of life for all. Our faculty are committed to fostering societal transformation through education that emphasizes solutions and action; research that generates evidence-based strategies to resolve problems at local, national, and global levels; and public service that shares this knowledge with a wider audience. In all of our work, we closely partner with communities, agencies and organizations to ensure that the needs of our constituents are represented and met.