Courtesy of National Council of Young Leaders

Last month, Mikva alumnus Agustín Flores attended the Citizens University Conference in Seattle, which brought together leaders of all ages to discuss the role of race in addressing key social issues. The conference included key talks with civic leaders nationwide, including a meeting with Starbucks Corporation leaders to discuss the company’s commitment to more racially diverse hiring practices.

Agustín attended the conference as a member of the National Council of Young Leaders (NCYL,) which is a group of young adults ages 18-34 who are committed to creating policy changes to end poverty. Since its inception in July 2012, the Council has already created a set of policy recommendations to decrease poverty  and has launched a campaign called Opportunity Youth United to promote equity for youth across the United States.

Agustín explains that the NCYL is like the Mikva Mayoral Youth Commission that he was part of, but on a national level. Aside from the larger scope, one of the major differences is that the NCYL encompasses all types of communities, not just urban areas, and seeks to create policy recommendations that fit for diverse community needs. Agustín explained that “you can’t necessarily implement a solution that we might have in Chicago or Boston or Philadelphia…it’s trickier because [our] solutions have to be broad enough that they apply to communities across the country, but specific enough so they don’t sound…idealistic.”

Courtesy of NCYL

Courtesy of National Council of Young Leaders


Agustín is part of the second cohort of NCYL leaders. As a member, he will be meeting in-person with fellow members three times per year, and has biweekly conference calls to discuss strategies for garnering local support for the Opportunity Youth United campaign. As the only member from Chicago, Agustín must connect with local organizations and potential allies to share the mission of the campaign.

Having been both a Mikva student and staff member, Agustín has a unique perspective on Mikva programs. He explained that as a student, he learned to confidently give feedback, and as a staff member, he has learned how to facilitate dialogues and actions among students and allies. Agustin’s past involvement in Mikva programming has played a critical role in his involvement in the NCYL. He stated that the work of the Council is “very aligned with our work at Mikva,” and that being active with Mikva “made the transition to the Council seamless.”

Agustín looks forward to the next steps for the Council, which include a conference in DC in the early summer, as well as plans to meet with elected officials to present the policy recommendations. In addition to his active involvement in the NCYL, Agustín continues to lead Mikva’s Peace Action Project Grants, where he supports youth in implementing peace projects in their schools and communities, and supports the Mayoral Youth Commission.