August 2, 2019

First ever Mayors Youth Summit in Los Angeles, plus a Guinness record for a cause in New Orleans

Here are three stories to inspire you as you head into the weekend.

Last week, the U.S Conference of Mayors hosted the inaugural Mayors National Youth Summit in Los Angeles.

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people and organizations are creating in their communities. This week, a youth summit encourages political participation, a benevolent barber goes for a world record, and a Renewal Awards finalist gets national attention. What’s happening in your hometown? Tell us at

Young people rising: As the country prepares for the 2020 presidential election, an emerging block of voters is beginning to assert their voice. Generation Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than those who came before them, so what do they have to say? Last weekend, the U.S. Conference of Mayors invited budding activists from this generation to Los Angeles to listen and to encourage them to engage in the political process. The first ever Mayors National Youth Summit hosted 100 youth, ages 16-22, from around the country, and several mayors, including co-organizer Shane Bemis, mayor of Gresham, Oregon; and USCM President Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan.

At the event, the mayors and the youth participants, who represented 20 states, committed to building and supporting youth councils in their hometowns. They signed a commitment to ensure that younger voices will be included in our communities’ political dialogue.

In an interview with The Renewal Project, Mayor Barnett said the USCM is committed to developing this relationship with these young leaders by making this Summit an annual event. “The overwhelming message that I heard was that the youth are ready to lead, to get involved, and to have their voices heard,” he said. “It’s not ‘for the future,’ but now.”

Fresh cuts: It’s back-to-school time in New Orleans. As kids and their families prepare for the start of classes this month, they’re checking off all the necessary items on their list: clothes, shoes, supplies, and haircut. For many families, especially in a community where 40 percent of kids live in poverty, a fresh new trim or fade is a luxury. That’s why local barber Brandus Mercadel, known in town as Fatt da Barber, is offering free cuts this weekend. While he’s at it, he’s also aiming for a Guinness World Record for the most free back-to-school haircuts, hoping to complete more than 200. It will be the first time anyone’s attempted this, Guinness spokeswoman Rachel Gluck told She said the organization was “honored that this barbershop is attempting a record for such a great cause.” We will be rooting him on this weekend—Good luck Brandus!

National spotlight: One of this year’s Renewal Awards finalists received some national love this week. College to Congress, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that funds internships on Capitol Hill for high-achieving students in need, was featured on CBS This Morning Thursday. Watch the video profile below.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.