Fordham Junior Leads Local Government Challenge



The GovChallenge, created by the non-profit Lead for America, works to give young people a voice in local government.


Shauna Fortier, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’21, is working with the Bronx government, the Fordham Political Science Department and the nonprofit Lead for America to launch a case competition called the “GovChallenge” at Fordham University.

The GovChallenge is a project created by Lead for America as a part of its mission to include younger voices in local government. Through her internship with the organization, Fortier worked to implement the GovChallenge on Fordham’s campus. 

The challenge will allow students an opportunity to propose their own solutions to a real-world problem currently affecting the Bronx. The winners of the competition will be able to work with the Bronx government to implement their solutions during the spring semester. 

“I cannot disclose what the case is just yet,” Fortier commented, as the case will be revealed in later stages of the competition. However, previous GovChallenge cases have tackled more affordable student housing in Boise, Idaho, as well as creating a community development department in Chatham, North Carolina.

Fortier, a marketing major, has been encouraging students to sign up for the competition, even those who don’t envision a career in government but want to positively impact the world in which they live. 

“With only 1% of local government officials under the age of 30, local governments are not very representative of the communities they serve,” said Fortier. “This competition is a way for us to have our voices heard directly and for the issues we care about to be addressed.”

City Council Member Andrew Cohen of District 11 expressed to Fortier his interest in hearing from Fordham students and collaborating with them to implement their solutions in the neighborhoods within his district. District 11’s boundaries reside just outside the Rose Hill campus’s district, District 16.

“The Bronx has a lot of community members and officials who care about the borough immensely, including Fordham students,” said Fortier. 

Although many Fordham clubs are involved in the Bronx community, Fortier acknowledged that few clubs are able to see their original ideas come to life. She hopes that GovChallenge will satisfy Fordham students’ interest in obtaining a hands-on experience while serving their borough.

“So far, I have been correct, as I have been overwhelmed by the support of the Fordham community in launching this competition,” Fortier said.

Fortier has also found support in Fordham’s Political Science Department. The faculty and students in the department assisted her with developing a Bronx-specific case that would be a significant challenge for participants to solve. She credits the department with being instrumental in developing this project. “I do not think this competition would be possible without their support,” she said.

From her past experience working on Sen. Gayle Slossberg’s 2016 state senate campaign and participating in the YMCA Youth and Government program, Fortier said she has seen the impact one person can make on important issues. “It isn’t something that everyone realizes,” she said. However, Fortier hopes that the students who do participate gain an appreciation of local government, as well as an understanding that what they do matters.