Today’s blog is a Q & A with Mike Kaiser, the Programming Chair of Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP). Mike also serves on the board of Citizens Planning Institute and has had his ear to the ground for Philadelphia goings-on for years. This Friday, YIP will be kicking off their annual State of Young Philly (Nov. 14 – 22), an event series focused on the voice of the millenial generation and amplifying civic engagement in Philadelphia.

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Q: What is YIP and what does it do?

A: We know that a lot of young people want to get involved, give back to their community, and learn more about city issues. Our mission is to make that easy.

YIP acts as an entry point and a connector to the many programs and organizations throughout the city. We do this through hosting year-round programming and events like our monthly happy hour and lunchtime meetups, walking tours, a civic running club, author events, and workshops to foster ongoing community and spark new ideas.

Anyone can be a YIP member, regardless of their age, and there is no fee to join. All you need to do is come out to an event and introduce yourself.

Q: Why did you get involved in this organization? What made you want to get involved?

A: I attended my first State of Young Philly in 2011. Everywhere I turned there was a new organization to learn about, an interesting person to meet, and excitement for the city. It was refreshing to have real conversations and not just leave with a pocket full of business cards. I was pretty much hooked after that first SOYP.

I then participated in the Spring 2012 Board Prep class where I got a crash course on what it takes to serve as a board member. When the opportunity to work with YIP came up, I couldn’t say no. I could visualize ways the organization could grow, and was ready for a new challenge. Two years later, I’m really proud of how much we have accomplished.

Q: Can you describe SOYP and why everyone should be excited about it?

A: State of Young Philly is our annual event series that happens each fall – it’s part conference, part celebration. This year we rolled out a different model and opened up our calendar to any organization or individual that wanted to apply. We were actually inspired by Philly Tech Week and worked with Technical.ly when we designed the framework earlier this year.

The response surpassed our expectations and now we have 22 events happening over 8 days across the city. A walking and culinary tour through Chinatown, an LGBT town hall, talks on entrepreneurship, makers, policy, education, the local music industry, mentorship, sustainable businesses… there really is something for everyone.

Q: What is your relationship with Impact Hub Philly?

A: We’re thrilled to be hosting all three of our YIP organized events at Impact Hub during State of Young Philly this year – our Opening Night Civic Engagement Fair, The Great Millennial Mouth Off, and our big closing event celebration, LOVEFest.

When we were thinking about where we could hold all of these events, each with different needs, Impact Hub was hands down the best fit. Not only is the space itself beautiful and spacious, but its mission around community building really resonates with our own. Philadelphia is really fortunate to have its own Impact Hub outpost to act as the homebase for the social impact community.

Q: What does Philadelphia need more of?

A: We need more young people running for office and taking leadership positions in organizations and in their neighborhoods. We need more people to go to the polls on election day. We need more well-resourced public schools so that no matter what zip code you live in you have access to a quality education. We need more companies to make Philadelphia their home. We need to say goodbye to the Philly Shrug attitude.

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