Dallas Teens Speak Out on Community Issues; Leaders Listen, May 18

Event: Media are invited to cover students from Dallas, Duncanville and Garland high schools gathering for the first Dallas Speak Up! Speak Out! Civics Fair where student teams will showcase their semester-long research into local community problems and present their innovative solutions to community leaders.

Ninety-nine students (36 via video conference from Austin and Corpus Christi) will compete for funds to help implement their proposed solutions to local community problems. Some of the problems these students have identified include: low literacy rates in their schools, class-based division among high school students, parental involvement in schools and the perception of urban high schools. Students will pitch their solutions to leaders from the Dallas community, including city government officials, non-profit and corporate leaders and professors. The civics fair is organized by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation at The University of Texas at Austin.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors from nine high schools will participate: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, L.G. Pinkston High School, Trini Garza Early College High School, W.H. Adamson High School and Judge Barefoot Sanders Magnet Center for Public Service in Dallas and Duncanville High School and Naaman Forest High School in Garland. Akins High School in Austin and Collegiate High School in Corpus Christi will participate via videoconference.

When: 4 to 9 p.m., May 18

Where: University of Texas at Dallas School of Management (800 West Campbell Rd., Richardson).

Background: The Speak Up! Speak Out! Program is a project-based civic education program that engages high school students in research and problem-solving around local community problems that matter to them. The Civics Fair is the program's culminating event where students present their proposed solutions via table displays and speeches and compete for cash prizes to use toward the implementation of their solutions. In the past, topics have included a range of issues, including teen pregnancy, urban business development, water quality and bullying. The Speak Up! Speak Out! Civics Fair has a nine-year history in Central Texas and is being introduced in Dallas this year.

The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation was established in 2000 to respond to growing political cynicism and disaffection in the United States. The goals of the institute are to conduct cutting-edge research on the ways in which civic participation and community understanding are undermined or sustained and to develop new programs for increasing democratic understanding among citizens.