Banner from the ATL Year of the Youth with Mayor Andre Dickens event.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens held a youth town hall on Tuesday at The Gathering Spot where students at Atlanta Public Schools and Atlanta universities got the opportunity to ask the mayor and city officials questions concerning their community.

The inaugural event hall was a part of Dickens’ initiative to foster a spirit of partnership between the city and Atlanta Public Schools, building off the mayor’s announcement that 2023 was the “Year of the Youth.” Since then, Dickens said the City of Atlanta have employed 5,000 people between the ages of 14-24 with an average wage of $17 per hour, have raised $4 million in scholarships and invested $1.5 million in youth organizations and $20 billion in early childhood education.

A student posing for a picture at the youth town hall meeting.

The goal of the town hall was to increase connectivity, improve transparency and strengthen civic engagement. 

“This won’t be our last mayor’s youth town hall. We will have more of these because we want to hear from you. We supported you in 2023 … but the truth is, we are going to make sure that we have a Year of the Youth now every year.

“We’re building leaders in our cities that can recreate all that we’re doing here to go forward. And I say building because this means there’s a lot of work still in progress for us. We launched something but we are not done.”

Brooke Shelton, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School and member of The Community Group (TCG), attended the town hall. TCG, a partner of the event, is a nonprofit organization that promotes civic engagement through a democracy tour and democracy fest that engages APS schools.

A young student taking a picture with an Atlanta community leader.

“The community group has really opened my eyes to being able to help people that look like me,” Shelton said. “As a young lesbian in Atlanta, is different, and especially African American. It’s just good to see people come out and represent, so I love these events.”

Students and community leaders were able to submit questions prior to the event that addressed a host of concerns. The most pressing questions and concerns ranged from promoting tools to increase civic engagement among AUC students, violent crime on campus and surrounding areas, food and housing insecurity, cultural programs for the youth and bullying and mental health care.

Leaders and officials in the Atlanta community, including the Atlanta Police Department, were in attendance, fielding questions from students and providing resources for concerns. While Dickens showed support and provided insight into the questions, Shelton admitted that she wished the town hall had been structured in a way that directly involved engagement between the mayor and students, rather than answers funneled through other leaders in the city.

“I would’ve had it been more personable,” Shelton shared. “It’s not real Alanta. As a senior smack dab in the middle of Atlanta, you see so many people who go through real life and the questions they were asking is not real life.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.


Dickens acknowledged that while he won’t be able to solve all the problems in the city, he has a team of nonprofit, business and government partners who will help him better the community.

“My number one goal is to make sure that Atlanta is the best place in the nation to raise a child,” Dickens said.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Atlanta Voice.