The city of Bellevue recently opened applications for its seventh annual Bellevue Essentials course that will introduce 35 locals to the inner workings of city government over a nine-week program.
The course will cost $125 in tuition and the classes will run on Wednesday evenings from Sept. 25 to Nov. 20.
“The program started as a way to originally get people to get involved with their neighborhood and develop leadership for neighborhood associations and leadership groups,” said Bellevue community relations coordinator Julie Ellenhorn who has overseen the program since it began in 2013. “It has now broadened into city-level engagement. We have lots of people who go on to volunteer throughout the city and beyond.”
There are no prerequisites for the course, as the program is meant to build neighborhood leaders out of any community member, but there is a high demand according to Ellenhorn.
Typically, the Bellevue Essentials course sees 50 to 70 applicants and can only accept 35. The enrollment cap was originally 30 people, but the city raised it after seeing the demand.
“Unfortunately we can never take everybody,” Ellenhorn said. “You can take a room of 100 people run PowerPoint and give them knowledge, but that’s not what they do.”
According to Ellenhorn, the course includes hands-on lessons where locals learn about the intricate functions of local government. The participants don’t simply sit in a classroom, but learn interactively with the senior city staff who run the week-to-week classes.
“Bellevue Essentials was a great experience — a highly interactive opportunity to learn how the city works, and also to meet council, staff and a diverse set of Bellevue residents,” said Albert Ting, a graduate of the 2016 Bellevue Essentials course. “The course included a wide range of topics from emergency services to utilities, parks and running a council session. I really enjoyed it and recommend the course to anyone interested in learning about the city or exploring civic leadership.”
On top of the groundwork of knowledge about local civics, participants gain a network of more than 200 alumni.
“After meeting city leaders, and finding out priorities of city departments, I was able to pinpoint how to personally best serve Bellevue,” said Rebecca Chatfield who graduated from the Bellevue Essentials 2017 course.
Locals can register for the class or find out more on the city’s website, https://bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/community-development/neighborhoods/classes-and-events/bellevue-essentials. The registration deadline is Aug. 2 and involves a short application and essay.