Weekly Column

I believe civic engagement is a fundamental action that is central to the success of our democracy. It is what actually inspired me to run for office and serve Ohio's 16th district.

Civic engagement has many definitions that all involve the need to address concerns and effectuate change through civic, electoral, and political means. I am glad to see that there are a number of avenues in Northeast Ohio that enable younger Americans to become involved in their communities.

One avenue for encouraging civic engagement is the Cleveland Leadership Center. The Cleveland Leader Center is an organization designed to develop leadership by offering experiences to Cleveland's youth that connect, inspire and challenge them to make a positive community impact. The Center's mission is to empower civic leaders to be committed to the Cleveland community's excellence by serving as a catalyst for civic engagement. I am proud of this organization's commitment to civic engagement.

I want to help inspire the next generation of young Americans to be politically aware and to serve their neighbors, which is foundational to what this Center stands for. To further that end, I partnered with the Cleveland Leadership Center to found Empowering Cleveland's Youth, an organization designed to provide personal growth and leadership development to high school students.

Jalen Brown, an alumnus of another Cleveland Leadership Center program, the "Look Up to Cleveland" civic leadership program, is a testament to the success of the Cleveland Leadership Center in fostering civic leadership and engagement. Jalen was instrumental in launching Empowering Cleveland's Youth. Jalen is also a Middle Childhood Education major and alumnus of Miami University who teaches seventh grade in the Maple Heights City School District. He is committed to developing himself as a leader and has demonstrated a strong commitment to civic engagement. I knew Jalen's thirst for leadership should be rewarded with the chance to join leaders across the country, which is why I invited him to be my guest to President Trump's address to Congress on Feb. 28.

It is critical that young people are engaged and active in politics. That's why I also opened the Renacci Center for Civic Engagement at Walsh University as well. It is our hope that this center will inspire future leaders to be politically aware. It's one thing to post on social media but quite another to take that next step and become civically engaged. Join the Student Government, take an extra political science class, create solutions to better your community, and use these tools to keep our democracy strong.

The Renacci Report

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