The City of Columbia Youth Commission is a program for local students to provide leadership and improve services for youth in the City of Columbia. The group of young leaders will work to bridge the gap between adults and youth, fostering a greater sense of unity, communication and partnership throughout the city. The Youth Commission extends a warm welcome to students between the ages of 14 to18 to become actively involved in their communities.

Click here to access the Columbia Youth Commission application.

Applications for the 2020-2021 CYC class have not opened.

For more information, contact Ariel Cathcart at 803-545-4189 or at

Over the past few years, the activism and civic engagement in Generation Z (people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) has been evident, particularly in movements such as The March for our Lives. To better leverage the energy, ideas and voices of young people in our community, programs like a Youth Commission are not only beneficial but are imperative for cities that want to more intentionally engage with youth and understand their needs as a demographic. 

Roles and responsibilities of the Youth Commission will include:

  • Commenting on legislation and policies that impact youth
  • Creating public service programs that improve the lives of youth
  • Monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of youth programs and policies
    • Coming up with program evaluation measures that consider aspects of a program that matter most to youth. 
  • Partnering with other youth organizations on shared issues
  • Preparing peers for leadership roles, postsecondary education and career.


The City of Columbia will hold a city and counties-wide (Richland and Lexington) election, similar to how typical municipal and county elections are held. One youth commissioner will be elected from each city district, with three at-large representatives from Richland County and two at-large representatives from Lexington County. There will be a total of nine (9) people on the Youth Commission. 

Eligible candidates are students ages 14-18. High school seniors graduating in June 2019 will not be eligible for elected office.

This election will be unique in that all 14-18-year-olds in Richland and Lexington counties will be eligible voters. Youth commissioners will campaign to voters just as an adult candidate for elected office does.

Term + term limits:

Each youth commissioner will serve a one (1)-year term. Commissioners may serve up to two (2) terms as long as they are younger than or exactly 18 at the time of the election and/or still enrolled in high school. 

To encourage youth involvement in the community, enhance leadership skills and voice policy ideas and concerns of our City's youth.
To provide civic participation and involvement in the community while promoting positive activities and opportunities for youth in Columbia.




It is imperative for our youth to be involved in their local government. To create that avenue, the Columbia Youth Commission will meet with the Mayor, City Council and key city staff to discuss how various issues affect their peers.
Members of the Columbia Youth Commission are provided an opportunity to dialogue directly with members of City Council, key senior staff within the City of Columbia and community leaders that work directly in areas that are critical to the community’s quality of life.
The Commissioners receive an education on how local government operates and responds to the needs of a community.



  • All interested participants must complete the application
  • Student must attend school in Richland or Lexington county.