- An annual college and financial aid expo that brings in several colleges, universities, and service organizations to help students and their families make the important decisions about post-high school education.
Scholarships offered for high school seniors that are college-bound, and students pursuing leadership opportunities through organizations such as People to People.
Plainfield Township’s youth committee is also a proud member of AITCOY (Association of Illinois Township Committees on Youth), which provides networking opportunities with other township youth committees. (http://www.aitcoy.org/)
We are always looking for new ideas and ways to serve the younger residents of our community. If you would like any information on the programs listed above, or have suggestions for new programs to create, please contact Matthew C. Starr at (email@example.com)
We all know that township government is the most direct and local representation that people have in Illinois. One of the ways in which we can play a large role in the communities we serve is to engage the youth. An often overlooked and somewhat underserved demographic, our younger residents rarely know townships exist, let alone the services they provide. To this end, individual townships and organizations like AITCOY (Association of Illinois Township Communities on Youth) work to try and find new ways to serve and engage the youth throughout the state. I have been lucky enough to play a small role in that effort.
In Plainfield Township, our Youth Committee hosts an annual College & Financial Aid Expo in partnership with our local school district. This event is geared towards high school students, and is open to all who wish to attend. Over twenty different colleges and universities from across the state send representatives, as well as numerous service organizations that offer scholarships. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) also participates, offering important information on financial aid. Students and their families can come to the expo and leisurely go booth to booth and talk with the representatives of the schools they’re interested in. Students seem to greatly benefit from the more casual structure of the event, and can see what numerous opportunities are out there for furthering their education.
Planning for college can be, and usually is, a stressful business for both student and parent. It is often overwhelming, and many parents will say things like “I had a hard time figuring out how to do the FAFSA”. Our expo offers families a rare opportunity to be able to talk face to face with experts who can answer their questions and literally provide them with every ounce of information available. We can take a process that is often difficult and time-consuming, and make it a bit more manageable.
When we first started this event back in 2009, our inaugural expo had about 200 attendees, and we were thrilled it had that much appeal. It continued to grow, and last year’s expo drew over 600 people! This year, we hosted our fifth annual expo, and had the largest and best attended yet. We had a record number of schools participating, and were told by those schools that our township’s expo has become a “must not miss”. This is an event that continues to grow, and even draws families from outside our own township. We are looking forward to seeing how we can expand it further, and continue to make it a success.
Our scholarship program, now active for a few years, is also a great way to reach out and engage the youth of the community. We offer various scholarships for college-bound high school seniors every year, as well as scholarships geared towards programs outside the normal curriculum of school (like People to People, the National Youth Leadership Forum, and others) so that students can have means to help finance the cost of programs that broaden their horizon.
The strength of township government lies in its ability to truly connect with and relate to the people it serves. All of us who have the honor of serving on a township board, or working for a township, have the distinct benefit of knowing what our residents want and need. We are not out of touch, disconnected, or unaware of what services need to be provided to those we represent. Reaching out to the youth of our communities has a benefit that is twofold. On one hand, an important demographic is adequately serviced; on the other, we have a way to ensure that the message of township government, being the most local and accountable, continues to spread.
Matthew C. Starr, Trustee