Like many, the Alliance for Youth Action has had to shift and re-align our work in the wake of the COVID-19 health emergency. But just like the young people that make up our network, we remain nimble, flexible, and innovative to meet the challenges of this uncertain time.
Network Actions in Response to COVID-19
In response to the impacts of the COVID-19 on our democracy, the Alliance joined allies across the country in demanding leaders in Washington take immediate action to protect our democracy and implement vote-by-mail nationwide. Senator Wyden (OR), the author of the bill, even introduced the legislation at the office of Alliance affiliate, Next Up. Next Up has been a champion of making vote by mail more accessible in Oregon, including winning paid postage for mail in ballots last year, language that is reflected in Senator Wyden’s bill.
In addition to threatening our democracy, COVID-19 has a detrimental impact on the economy and young people’s ability to financially thrive. As a network that centers the generations most impacted by the student debt crisis, we celebrated the announcement of the emergency student loan payment and relief plan proposed by Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Sherrod Brown, and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Alliance network organizations including New Era Colorado and Ohio Student Association organize around student debt relief and cancellation in their home states and we believe this proposal is a critical step to ensuring student loan debt borrowers nationwide get the relief they need during this unprecedented time.
Organizations in the Alliance network are also shifting their work from being field-first to digital-first. MOVE Texas adapted their field work by launching MOVE University, a program where they stream weekly live lessons on social media covering topics like Texas Politics and the Census. They follow up their lessons with recommendations for books, documentaries, and more!
The Washington Bus launched remote volunteer phone banking and texting nights to “Get Out the Count” and encourage people to fill out the Census. And more Alliance network organizations are shifting into virtual trainings and using new tools to keep their organizing moving. Chicago Votes is hosting Virtual Tweet Banks every Tuesday where organizers tweet at state representatives to pass legislation on voting in prison and jury qualification. Leaders Igniting Transformation started a challenge on TikTok (#VoteYesForMPS) asking young people to vote yes on a referendum in the upcoming Spring elections that ensures quality and equitable education in Milwaukee Public Schools.
You can continue to stay up-to-date with how our network is shifting their work during the primaries by visiting the Alliance Network in the Primaries blog.
To support our network organizations shift from their field organizing to digital organizing, the Alliance for Youth Action has provided each organization access to the relational organizing application, OutVote. This tool will allow organizers to engage with volunteers, post social media content, and connect with their bases all through this trackable app!
And as we know, COVID-19 even impacted the last Democratic Presidential debate, moving to CNN’s Washington, DC studios with no audience, but that didn’t stop the Alliance. We worked with partner organizations to flood the DNC website with questions for the presidential candidates that reflect the issues our generation cares about most. And we won! At the debate, moderators (finally) asked candidates about the climate crisis, immigration, reproductive rights, and student debt. We look forward to continuing to push candidates up and down the ballot to address these and other vital issues impacting our communities.
New Staff Join the Alliance Team
Despite the uncertainty of this current health emergency, we have not halted our growth as an organization. In the past few weeks, we hired three, yes three, new staff members! We are thrilled to introduce to you the newest members of the Alliance national staff and share exciting news about a long-time staff member.
Poulami Banerji | Operations Training Director
As the Operations Training Director, Poulami works with Alliance organizations to identify operational challenges and collaborates with teams to create sustainable, creative, and exciting solutions. Previously she worked across operations, program management, and recruitment compliance teams in international humanitarian aid space. She joined the Alliance because she was looking to transition to progressive, movement-based, domestic work, especially leading into the 2020 election season, and found the Alliance’s mission and vision of a progressive future led by young people to be inspiring. She is excited to be able to bring her operations experience to this new environment and work with a vast cohort of progressive young leaders across the network.
Rebecca Gorena | Senior Program Director
Rebecca, born and raised in Texas, is joining the Alliance staff (and moving to DC!) after organizing in reproductive justice spaces for the last eight years. While working in tepro, she saw the dire need to include electoral tactics into every organizing space to create the world we want. As Senior Program Director at the Alliance, she will manage our amazing program team and help integrate all things social justice into our campaigns and work supporting network organizations.
Gnora Gumanow | Electoral Project Manager
Gnora has returned to the Alliance after a year of digging into her Masters of Public Health program at George Washington University. In her new role as Electoral Project Manager, she will be supporting the network’s electoral program goals and projects. Gnora grew up in Portland, Oregon and moved to D.C. after working as the Program Director for Next Up Oregon. She’s passionate about making lasting change through local organizing, and is very excited to be back with the Alliance Team.
Last, join us as we celebrate our very own Scarlett Jimenez being promoted to Development Director! Scarlett joined the Alliance team two and a half years ago and has been crucial to building a strong and thriving Development Department.The Development Director title reflects her stellar work and the leadership role she has taken to transform the development department and exceed our ambitious fundraising goals by cultivating donor relationships and managing the growing development portfolio, all while supporting Affiliates to track and manage their fundraising efforts.
Our work to support and grow youth-led, grass-roots organizations has not stopped, it just looks a little different now. Stay tuned for more on how the Alliance is continuing to build young people’s political power across the country in these changing times.
Stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands!