Alliance pick-me-up: Innovative Organizing, New Staff

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!

Charlie Bonner, Communications Director from MOVE Texas, and Katie Martin Lightfoot, from The Center for Public Policy Priorities, discussing why the 2020 Census is so important to our communities.

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.

Leaders Igniting Transformation TiktIK screengrab

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

Poulami Banerji

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 Gorena

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 Gumanow

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.

Scarlett Jimenez

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.

Alliance Staff Zoom Screengrab
Captured at our last staff meeting <3

Stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands!

The Alliance Network in the Primaries

*Updated Thursday, June 18th, 2020

During the primary season, Alliance network organizations did what they do best – mobilize young voters. Whether it be throwing parties at the polls or handing out voter guides, these organizations do the work every single day to make sure our democracy is more accessible to young people.

Learn more about how Alliance network organizations turned out young voters during the primaries ⬇️

Colorado | Texas | North Carolina | Minnesota | Michigan |Mississippi | Washington | Florida | Illinois | Wisconsin | Kansas | Ohio | Montana


Colorado saw major wins on Super Tuesday with 29% of eligible 18-25 year-olds casting a ballot statewide—that’s nine points higher than in the 2018 primary and seventeen points higher than the 2016 caucuses! Tuesday was also the first primary in Colorado history that 17-year-olds who turn 18 by the general election were able to vote (thanks to a law New Era Colorado passed in last year’s legislative session!). New Era Colorado reached out to thousands of 17-year-olds through school visits, texts, phone calls, and digital ads to educate them about the new law and get them to the polls. 42% of eligible 17-year-olds actually cast ballots—an incredible feat for this group of first-time voters! Additionally, New Era Colorado’s efforts to require voter service centers and dropboxes on certain campuses ended up being critical with the high turnout on college campuses. Yesterday was further proof that Colorado’s young people are a voting powerhouse shaping the state’s future largely thanks to the year-round organizing work of New Era Colorado.


Party at the Polls

MOVE Texas went big on Super Tuesday throwing 20 different Parties at the Polls across the state providing pizza and snacks, games and entertainment, and, of course, all the voting information young Texans need. Ahead of Super Tuesday, organizers knocked on 2,643 doors, sent 51,854 texts, and called 11,590 young voters to remind them about the election and make sure they had everything they needed to cast their ballot. Check out Charlie Bonner, MOVE Texas’ Communications Director, at a phone bank on NBC News explaining just how powerful young voters are in Texas. The big story of Super Tuesday, though, was the devastatingly long lines at polling locations across the state of Texas, especially at college campuses. With some reports of lines being up to 7 hours long, MOVE Texas stepped up to help keep people in line by buying and distributing pizza, water, and snacks late into the night. Over the past two years, MOVE Texas has fought for more polling locations on college campuses and continues that fight as we quickly approach November 2020.

North Carolina

Poll watchers with North Carolina Asian Americans Together

On Super Tuesday, North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) got out the vote in Morrisville, NC at the polling location with the highest Asian American voter turnout in the state – a tradition they have kept up since 2016! NCAAT’s staff, fellows, and volunteerswere at that polling location from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm when the last voter cast their ballot. Despite the pouring rain, they handed out coffee, snacks, voter education literature, and shared information about the upcoming census. Alongside other statewide groups, NCAAT trained staff and volunteers to serve as nonpartisan poll watchers, assisting voters and reporting any site-specific issues to our state board of elections. NCAAT engaged with over 1,500 community members that day and even saw some of the young voters who graduated from their youth program cast their first ballot!


Tabling on Super Tuesday with Minnesota Youth Collective

Ahead of the Primaries, Minnesota Youth Collective partnered with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund to offer Primary and Caucus trainings in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Rochester, and Mankato. The trainings provided a basic overview of what primaries and caucuses are and how to participate in them. The day before Super Tuesday, Minnesota Youth Collective organized a “Midnight Madness” event where they covered whiteboards, sidewalks, and more on the University of Minnesota campus with reminders to vote. They also created and distributed a “Young Voters Guide to the Presidential Primaries” on campus during Super Tuesday that included information students on campus needed to bring to the polls and find their polling location.


To get out the vote and educate young voters in Michigan, Michigan Student Power Network distributed over 500 voter report cards grading candidates on the issues young people care about like healthcare, racial justice, education, climate justice, immigrant rights, and more. They also handed out over 500 know your voting rights guides as well as 2,800 politically-themed stickers and buttons. Leading up to the primary, they provided voting information and handed out literature on six different campuses across the state.


The Primary Elections in Mississippi fell on the Tuesday of the week of Spring Break meaning many students were off-campus and would not be able to vote. To ensure students would not miss their opportunity to cast their ballot, Mississippi Votes geared all their efforts to pushing absentee ballots on campuses! Leading up to the primary, their Democracy in Action Fellows educated students and the community about the absentee voting process. Their efforts contributed to a jump in submitted absentee ballots across the state. In addition to educating the community about the absentee voting process, Mississippi Votes’ Fellows also educated people on down-ballot races through their “Ballot Basics” program.


Washington was one of the states that shifted from a caucus to a presidential primary this year. In preparation for this, The Washington Bus was all hands on deck! They hosted four phone banks where volunteers called and texted young and first-time voters across the state with information on how to vote, when to vote, and how to fill out a ballot (which are surprisingly complicated in Washington!). The Washington Bus team made over 600 get-out-the-vote calls and sent over 30,000 text messages. They also hosted a get-out-the-vote concert and campus voter drives.


Engage Miami Primary Tabling

In 2018, Engage Miami organized to win three early voting sites at Miami-Dade and for the primary election this year, that’s where they focused their turnout efforts. The Engage team gave over 160 class presentations, reaching over 4,000 students, where they shared information young people needed to be successful, informed voters. They also had countless conversations about the primary and handing out our local artists-designed “I Voted” stickers and primary voter information cards. Engage Miami turned some of these class presentations into Vote Together parties, where the class would head to the polls to cast their ballots together! Since Florida is a closed primary state, Engage also made a push at registering and updating people before the deadline. They collected over 2,000 forms and hosted a “Raise Your Voice” voter registration event in partnership with a local record store.


Chicago Votes Parade to the Piolls

Chicago Votes celebrated a historic primary election as Cook County Jail became the first-ever jail polling location! With the passage of Senate Bill 2090, their Voting in Jails bill, voters who are eligible and incarcerated were given access to vote. Over 1,200 voters being held pretrial voted at Cook County Jail during Illinois’ primary election! Chicago Votes also partnered with Chicago Public Schools and local colleges to host seven Parades To The Polls, taking students to cast their ballots during early voting. They created a voter guide educating Chicagoans on the judicial and State’s Attorney candidates. They distributed over 260,000 printed guides in communities across the city and reached close to 353,000 people with their digital guide online.


In conjunction with being the first to call on our legislatures to postpone the April 7th in-person election because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) sent over 200,000 texts to Wisconsin voters, reached over 350,000 people via digital ads and directed over 11,500 people to request absentee ballots by mail.  On election day we handed out protective gear, collected stories, and continued to call out our state leaders regarding the irresponsible decision to keep polling places open.  


This was the first year that the Kansas Democratic primary used ranked-choice voting. Alliance partner organization, Loud Light, produced this explainer video that walked voters through the process of how how to fill out and submit a ranked-choice ballot. Their efforts helped demystify the new voting process that can be confusing for new voters and returning voters alike. They are also conducting research to better address the issues surrounding students with dorm addresses not getting their ballots forwarded to their homes.


In Ohio, the March 17th primaries were cancelled at the last-minute leaving millions of people unable to vote in person. Informing voters how to vote absentee was critical because 85% of Ohioans vote in-person. So, Ohio Student Association (OSA), along with coalition partners, launched a campaign to educate voters on how to submit absentee ballots. OSA and their coalition partners recruited nearly 400 volunteers sent over 800,000 text messages, initiating conversations with 221,000 Ohio voters. OSA also produced a video, “How to Vote in the Ohio 2020 Primary” instructing people how to vote absentee.


When Montana’s June primary moved to an all mail-in election, Forward Montana sprang into action. With the use of an online “Voter Hub”, Montana voters were able to receive up to date information on the how and where to vote in the 2020 Primary along with information on candidates and races up and down the ballot. Statewide field teams, volunteers, and interns made 16,500 calls and sent 15,315 text messages to young voters across the state leading up to Election Day. In light of COVID-19, virtual phone and text bank options gave volunteers tons of creative ways to be involved in GOTV work! Montana had the highest Primary voter turnout in recent history and Forward Montana is excited to build on that momentum as November nears. 

As more states hold their primaries, Alliance organizations will be out in full force ensuring young people have everything they need to cast their ballots. Stay tuned for more!

2019 Election Recap

Did you see the Alliance mentioned in this New York Times opinion piece earlier this month? Young people are the key to the White House in 2020 and the Alliance network organizes daily to ensure young people turn out. We know there is no such thing as an “off-year” and that every election counts – especially for young people. That is why Alliance organizations were getting out the vote all across the country for local and state elections this year. From Virginia to Texas, young people flexed their power on November 5th and won some major victories. Here are a few highlights from the field that made that possible:


Forward Montana_Post-election 2019

Freezing temperatures did not stop Forward Montana from hosting their “Student Voter Days” on campuses in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, and Helena to get out the student vote ahead of election day. Forward Montana handed out over 750 voter guides informing students about the local city council elections. Students even had a chance to practice filling out a 2020 Census form.


Pennsylvania Student Power Network 2019 Election Recap

Pennsylvania Student Power Network was working on 20 college campuses across the state to inform young people about their local elections and get out the student vote. They created and distributed 25,000 voter guides educating young voters in Philadelphia, Delaware County, and Pittsburgh about everything from city council to district attorney races. Cities like Philadelphia saw a higher voter turnout among college students!!


MOVE Texas 2019 Election Recap

Before the November elections, MOVE Texas registered 20,000 new voters. They also released a one-of-a-kind voter guide to inform young voters about the constitutional amendments on the ballot. In their Deep Cut The Vote voter guide, they paired amendments with the songs making for the ultimate playlist for democracy. Early results show overall voter turnout in Texas doubling between 2017 and 2019!


Virginia Student Power Network 2019 Election Recap

On November 5th, voters flipped the Virginia legislature blue! Youth organizers and voters helped make this political shift happen. Virginia Student Power Network registered 1,000 new voters ahead of the election who turned out strong. Youth voter turnout statewide was up 91% and in some places, student voter turnout was up 305% from 2015! Virginia Student Power also held a state-wide convening the weekend after election day to plan for 2020 and beyond.

Alliance organizations like Minnesota Youth Collective, New Era Colorado, and New Hampshire Youth Movement also hit the pavement this year to turn out young voters for state and local elections. But the work does not stop here. The day after election day, youth organizers in our network are back in the field because we do not win by just mobilizing around election days, we win by mobilizing 365 days a year, every year.

National Voter Registration Day Recap

(Voter registration number has been updated)

This week, we celebrated one of our largest National Voter Registration Days (NVRD) ever! Organizations from the Alliance network registered 5,897 people to vote! In addition to registering the hell out of young people, our network also reached 1.2 million people online. But the real magic happens in the field. Check out some of our favorite moments from Alliance organizations registering young voters and celebrating National Voter Registration Day by heading to our Instagram NVRD Highlight!

Also on NVRD, MTV announced the recipients of their Leaders for Change grant program and four of the awardees are from the Alliance network! Check out MTV’s video highlighting MOVE Texas and Chicago Votes.

MOVE Texas Deputy Director, Raven Douglas, talking to MTV
Raven Douglas from MOVE Texas

We love this holiday because for one day a year, thousands of partners across the country join us in doing what our network does every day, register people to vote. And on the day after NVRD, we are right back in the field registering, mobilizing, and empowering young people because we fight 365 days a year to ensure young people have a voice at the ballot box.

Cheers, to another successful National Voter Registration Day and to building young people’s political power.

*The organizations in our network that registered voters on National Voter Registration Day include Engage Miami, Forward Montana, Georgia Shift, MOVE Texas, Minnesota Youth Collective, Next Up, New Era Colorado, Pennsylvania Student Power Network, Poder in Action, Virginia Student Power, Washington Bus, and more!

Summer is for organizing

In the Alliance network, organizing work is seen as not only a pathway to change, but a leadership development opportunity for hundreds of young leaders each year. That is why Alliance orgs do not take a break in the summer. Instead, they run summer programming to continue building youth political power year-round. Here are snapshots of those programs that graduated over 214 young leaders this summer!

Engage Miami

Engage Miami Summer Fellows

Engage Miami welcomed Policy Fellow, Alejandra, and an Advocacy Fellow, Brianna, to their team this summer to support Engage Miami’s community organizing work. These fellows spent their time researching Miami-Dade County civic systems and plans, attending county and municipal meetings, and hosted a teach-in to share their research findings on how their county makes major decisions around zoning, budgeting for Community Redevelopment Agencies, city planning and more.

Forward Montana

Forward Montana Summer Fellows

Forward Montana was joined by 10 smiling summer interns at their Billings and Bozeman offices. Interns were rocking their Forward Montana fanny packs across the state registering voters everywhere including music festivals, art walks, Pride festivals, county fairs, in front of ice cream shops, farmers markets, and more. If young people were there, Forward Montana’s summer interns were not far registering voters.

Georgia Shift

Georgia Shift Fellows

Five fellows and one intern joined the Georgia Shift team this summer to grow their organizing skills and help bring the organization to new heights. This team attended trainings covering everything from digital organizing to voter registration. In addition to getting trained up, they advocated for early voting and hiring young poll workers, registered voters at Augusta’s Pride, drafted two bills on a needs-based financial aid program and in-state tuition for DACA recipients, created videos and graphics for advocacy work, and much more. Not only did these fellows gain invaluable experience, they laid the groundwork for Georgia Shift to succeed in 2019 and 2020.

Leaders Igniting Transformation

LIT Black Hogwarts Program

Last month, LIT graduated 20 young Milwaukee leaders from their 2019 cohort of Black Hogwarts (that’s right, Black Hogwarts). During this six-week program, young people learned and discussed everything from anti-oppression work, civic engagement, political education, community organizing, and how these issues all intersect in LIT’s programmatic efforts . Cohort members also led LIT’s advocacy work, making sure the Milwaukee Public School system is investing in student success (e.g., culturally responsive trainings, restorative justice practices, and therapists) and divesting in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Michigan Student Power Network

Michigan Student Power Network Summer Fellows

This summer, Michigan Student Power Network worked with 21 undergraduate Organizing Fellows from eight different campuses to take part in a Summer of Organizer Training, Mentoring, and Community Building program! Fellows learned about movement history, field organizer skills, restorative justice, coalition building, as well as political theory throughout a series of trainings and workshops.

Minnesota Youth Collective

Minnesota Youth Collective Summer Fellows

Cheers to Minnesota Youth Collective for running their first-ever Fellowship Program this summer! Fellows attended workshops and trainings on everything from art and activism to organizing 101. Summer fellows also helped craft Minnesota Youth Collective’s two newest issue campaigns around democracy and economic justice. The first campaign, Democracy Done Right, tackles barriers for transgender folx changing their names which also means barriers to register to vote. Their second campaign, Broke AF, explores what home means to a generation with limited resources struggling to afford basic necessities.

MOVE Texas

MOVE Texas Summer Organizers

MOVE Texas just graduated their largest Summer Leadership Development class totaling 40 young leaders! Members in Austin, Dallas, Laredo, San Antonio, and San Marcos fought for paid sick time, registered voters at pride festivals, lobbied city council on climate solutions, rallied to close the camps along the border, and more. They just said goodbye to their summer fellows and welcomed 50 new fellows/interns for the fall. We are always in awe of the hustle at MOVE Texas to mobilize young people year-round.

Next Up

Next Up Summer Organizers

Next Up (formerly the Bus Project!) worked with two brilliant fellows this summer, Giovanni and Luly. Both fellows helped to get out the vote by collecting 650 pledge-to-vote cards! They also attended 25 community events to chat with community members about important issues like the harmful effects of mandatory minimum sentencing for youth, lowering the voting age, and the benefits of the recently passed Student Success Act. In addition to this work, they also spread the word about Next Up’s rebrand, ensuring that young people across the tri-county area know about the organization’s exciting transition and what they have coming up next.

New Era Colorado

New Era CO summer organizers

New Era Colorado continued to develop new leaders across the state through their spring and summer Intern and Fellowship Programs, training 43 new organizers. Interns/fellows worked on a variety of programs in Fort Collins, Denver, and Boulder. From running abortion education programs on campus, to fighting for student loan reform, to advocating for action on climate change in the Colorado legislature, these leaders flexed their power and showed what young folks can accomplish. In addition to this issue work, fellows also built up their grassroots organizing skills by registering 952 voters!

New Hampshire Youth Movement

New Hampshire Youth Movement Summer Organizers

New Hampshire Youth Movement brought on five awesome fellows to support their organizing this summer and they were busy. Their fellows knocked on 1,200 doors, canvassed at events, and were able to sign up 1,000 new people to join New Hampshire Youth Movement. In addition to their field work, fellows pushed Joe Biden on his immigration stance, urged Senator Elizabeth Warren to come out with an aggressive free college plan, and encouraged Beto O’Rourke to take the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. They also pushed 20 other candidates about issues young people care about.

Pennsylvania Student Power Network

Pennsylvania Student Power Network Summer Fellows

Pennsylvania Student Power Network worked with 25 badass fellow from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, and Reading to build youth power across the state. This cohort led a number of actions and events including direct actions at the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board meetings to address inhumane conditions at the jail, a workshop in Philadelphia focused on how directly impacted youth can communicate with incarcerated loved ones, and an action at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors meeting that pushed them to freeze tuition for the first time in 21 years! They also laid the groundwork for ongoing work around voter registration, organizing trainings, and building new campus chapters this fall.

Virginia Student Power Network

Virginia Student Power Network Summer Fellows

This summer, 17 organizing fellows from nine different college campuses across the state joined the Virginia Student Power Network team. They attended a leadership retreat as well as three statewide trainings to learn how to build young people’s political power on their campuses. Fellows also took part in immigrant justice actions as well as participated in New Virginia Majority’s People’s Congress where 300 people from working class communities of color in VA convened to ratify their collective policy agenda.

Washington Bus

Washington Bus Summer Fellows

Last week, Washington Bus wrapped up their summer fellowships program graduating 13 young leaders! During their 10 weeks with Washington Bus, fellows attended trainings on community organizing and social justice in the classroom. They also took to the field to register voters at community festivals and talk to voters about “Democracy Vouchers”, a system for Seattle voters to receive publicly funded money to support candidates. In addition to field work, fellows also added brain power to build out community priorities for upcoming legislation for tuition-free college. 

We are proud of these summer fellowship and intern programs because they not only support the critical organizing work Alliance organizations are doing year-round, they are also building and training up fierce, young leaders in communities throughout the country. And we cannot wait to see what they do next.

Legislative Round-Up Part 2: Powerhouses of Progressive Policy

We’re back with more legislative victories from the field and the work just keeps on getting better. Alliance organizations mobilized young people and elected officials alike to pass progressive and innovative policies, block harmful legislation, and include more voices in our democracy. Here’s how they did it:

Chicago Votes: Expanding Our Democracy
Chicago Votes at the Cook County Jail

Chicago Votes has become a powerhouse of progressive policy. This session, two of the bills they helped draft and lead on passed the Illinois legislature! The first bill, Civics in Prison, allows non-partisan civic organizations to train incarcerated citizens to provide civics education to re-entering citizens. The second bill, Voting in Jail, would increase access to the ballot and civic knowledge for those in pre-trial detention at Cook County Jail where 99% of people are eligible to vote but most do not know they can. Chicago Votes is blazing a trail for brand new, innovative policies that fill the gaps in our democracy and ensure that our voting system works for all.

And if all this was not enough, Chicago Votes also lobbied to pass Cannabis Equity in the legislature. This bill legalizes cannabis usage, expunges convictions, releases people incarcerated for marijuana charges, provides employment opportunities for those wrongly convicted, and uses cannabis revenue for investment in impacted communities. 

MOVE Texas: Protecting Democracy for all Texans
Alex Birnel at press conference in support of Paid Sick Time

We all know MOVE Texas can throw down for democracy and this legislative session, they did not disappoint. Republican state legislators tried to pass SB9 –  a voter suppression bill masked as an effort to make state elections more “secure. This legislation would have created barriers to voting for portions of the population like people with disabilities, senior citizens, and those making unintentional innocent voting mistakes. MOVE Texas was not having it. After packed press conferences, lobby days, passionate testimonies, and countless phone calls, SB9 died. Don’t mistake the status quo for lack of progress. Fighting dangerous voter suppression efforts like this one is a major victory for Texas voters and our democracy.

Oregon Bus Project: Ensuring Every Mailbox is a Drop Box
Next Up Staff

The Bus Project has always been at the forefront of some of the most pro-voter policies in the nation like Automatic Voter Registration. This session, they are asking the legislature to create a task force to expand Automatic Voter Registration to other state agencies to ensure every Oregonian is seamlessly registered to vote. The Bus Project is also determined to turn every mailbox into a ballot drop box by leading the charge on legislation to provide paid postage for all mail ballots

In addition to leading this initiative, the Bus Project joined PCUN, Oregon’s Farmworker Union, in efforts to pass the Oregon Voting Rights Act, which would make it easier for citizens to bring a lawsuit challenging their jurisdictions’ form of voting in education districts. The Bus is also a partner on passing carbon pricing, a historic $2billion investment in schools, and banning no cause evictions. 

The Washington Bus: Bringing Youth Voices to the Legislative Table
Washington Bus

Oregon is not the only state pursuing paid postage. The Washington Bus has spent the last three years as part of the Steering Committee for the Washington Voting Justice Coalition shaping legislation to ensure all mail ballots in the state have paid postage. After bringing young people to hearings advocating for the pro-voter reform, paid postage passed!

The Washington Bus also supported legislation providing funding to education including K-12, higher education, and services for homeless and low-income children. They organized a letter writing campaign so young people could let their Senators know the importance of funding higher education and participated in the 2019 Advocacy Day for Youth Development and Expanded Learning Opportunities.

Leaders Igniting Transformation: Stopping the School to Prison Pipeline
Leaders Igniting Transformation at lobby day in Madison

In Wisconsin, Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) is building a brighter future for black and brown youth – especially in their schools. In May, they hosted a lobby day bringing 75 young people to Madison to demand better funding for public schools, an end to the criminalization of black and brown kids, and better school lunches.

LIT also worked in coalition with allies to introduce a series of pro-voter reform bills including Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) and student IDs as voter IDs. They then put the pressure on Governor Evers to keep his promise on making AVR a reality resulting in him producing an Executive Order on AVR.

New Hampshire Youth Movement: Protecting the Student Vote
New Hampshire Youth Movement protesting student voter suppression bill

New Hampshire Youth Movement has been waging a constant battle for student voting rights. Recently, they held a mass moral protest demanding Governor Sununu sign HB106 which would remove the residency requirement for students to vote. Even presidential candidates are taking notice of the barriers New Hampshire has put up preventing many students from taking part in our democracy. We are grateful to organizations like New Hampshire Youth Movement who fight hard to ensure young people have full access to the ballot.

This voting rights work is part of New Hampshire Youth Movement’s larger Youth Agenda advocating for lowering tuition at New Hampshire universities and pushing legislation that would make it more cost efficient for communities to build solar power options.

In state capitols across the country, Alliance orgs are advocating for bold policies while stopping dangerous ones. This awesome work is a testament to what can happen when young people demand a seat at the table.

Legislative Round-Up Part 1: Makin’ and Shapin’ Policy

As legislative sessions begin to wrap up in many states, our affiliates have a lot to celebrate. From passing innovative legislation to demystifying the legislative process, Alliance organizations have done what they do best, center young people’s voices so that our laws better reflect our values. Check out the latest and greatest from our crews:

New Era Colorado

Paying back student loans can be confusing and intimidating. That process just got a whole lot easier  in Colorado thanks to New Era. New Era ended the legislative session with a bang as their bill, the Student Loan Servicer Accountability Act, passed and was signed into law! This law requires student loan servicers to make the repayment process fair and transparent for borrowers. This law would also create a permanent watchdog in the Colorado Attorney General’s office whose job is to protect student borrowers and investigate claims against student loan servicers. New Era rallied young people to submit over 1,500 comment cards, make hundreds of calls to legislators, and share testimonies to pass this crucial legislation.

In addition, New Era threw down for democracy reform. They helped pass two pieces of legislation to expand voting access in Colorado. New Era supported the Colorado Votes Act which adds in-person polling centers and drop boxes at most universities and community colleges. It also allows 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they turn 18 by the general election. New Era also sent young people to testify in support of legislation that simplifies and expands the current Automatic Voter Registration system to reach more people. Congrats, New Era!

Forward Montana

Understanding the ins and outs of your state’s legislature can be a struggle and feel inaccessible at times, so Forward Montana was on a mission this year to change that with their weekly legislative newsletter, “What the Helena.” Each week, they explained key legislation moving through the legislature and how young people could take action, which they did! Forward Montana mobilized young people to call their legislators, share their personal stories, and show up at the Capitol to urge legislators to pass important legislation like Medicaid Expansion and student debt assistance for young farmers and ranchers. You go, Forward Montana!

Georgia Shift

Georgia Shift was spilling all the tea about what goes on at the Capitol. From their weekly newsletters called “Gold Dome Tea” to their Instagram TV Channel “Tea Time With Brian”,Georgia Shift kept young people up to date on all the piping hot issues in the state legislature. In addition to keeping folks informed, Georgia Shift hosted “Mujeres Day at the Capitol: Georgia Advocacy Day for Women” and “Do or Die: Young People’s Day of Change” to ensure state legislators listen directly to young people about the issues they care about most.

And now for some exciting news from the Alliance national team…

We are excited to introduce our brand new Senior Director of Communications, Carmel Pryor! Carmel is a creative social advocate and communications strategist with over 10 years’ experience in the civic sector. From her time at Metro TeenAIDS designing social marketing campaigns to combat HIV among youth in DC to creating digital media tools to help refugees resettle in the U.S. with the International Rescue Committee, she has dedicated her career to ensuring people’s stories are told and marginalized communities are given the tools to create their own agency.

In this role, Carmel will lead the Alliance’s comprehensive communications strategy, lift up the bold work of young people nationwide through storytelling, and work with the Alliance’s incredible network to build communications capacity and strategy. Now, with Carmel and Daniela, the Alliance has a rockin’ Communications Team!

Stay tuned for more legislative updates from the Alliance network. And make sure to check out our Weekly Round-Ups on Instagram every Friday to catch the latest events and actions from the field.

Wednesday Wisdom: Elections Happen Year-Round

Elections happen every year and year round. No one knows this better than our network as they hustle to educate and turn out young voters for Spring elections. Here’s the latest from the Alliance:

With early voting in full swing, MOVE Texas is hustling nonstop to turn out young Texans for the May 4th municipal election in San Antonio and Dallas. Last Friday they launched an easy-to-read Voter Guide covering candidates’ stances on issues young people care about. MOVE’s teams are calling, texting, and knocking on doors to inform and engage voters. And on top of that, last night MOVE hosted MOVEopoly – a life-sized monopoly board game to teach young people about city elections. Organizers are also hosting eight (yes EIGHT) Parties at the Polls in both cities during early voting to drive turn-out.

Portland Public Schools, the largest school district in the state of Oregon, will have its school board election on May 21st and the Bus Project (now Next Up) is working hard to get out the youth vote. They recently hosted a candidate forum where students raised questions about mental health support, student and community participation in decision making, and police officers in schools. The Bus is also making phone calls to energize voters and remind community members that each and every election is important.

Engage Miami is registering voters, knocking on doors and distributing voter guides in Sweetwater and North Miami ahead of the May elections. A few weeks ago, Engage hosted a candidate forum in Sweetwater where college students make up one-fourth of the population! On top of all of this, Engage is building up a brand new chapter system rooted in neighborhood-focused community organizing to reach more young people where they’re at. Engage Miami is energizing young people on and off college campuses to drive record turnout and ensure elected officials are responsive to the issues they care about most.

Pennsylvania Student Power Network is hustling to get out the vote in four counties across the state ahead of theJudicial Elections on May 21st. Along with members of the Judge Accountability Table, Pennsylvania Student Power held a candidate forum in Philadelphia County where judicial candidates answered questions about ending cash bail, getting youth out of adult prisons, and decriminalizing sex work. The name of the forum? “Judge the Judges!” Organizers will be cohosting another candidate forum in Delaware County on May 2nd and plan to distribute voter guides in both Philadelphia and Delaware County.

Shout out to these Alliance organizations who are energizing young voters to come out to the polls for each and every election to make their voices heard. Stay tuned for more local organizing updates!

Springing forward into local elections (plus exciting news from our national team!)

Spring has officially sprung, local elections are in full swing, and the hustle to turn out young voters is stronger than ever. 2019 is full of local elections and our network is making sure young people’s voices are heard in every race. Here are the latest updates from Alliance affiliates turning out the vote:

(And make sure to read to the end for some exciting updates from our national team!)

Chicago Votes hit the ground running in February by hosting their first ever Youth Voice Mayoral Forum where young people from 10 high schools asked candidates questions about gentrification, incarceration, youth employment, and more. Candidates also had the option to rebut using emoji cards! Following the forum, Chicago Votes took students on a parade to the polls to cast their ballots for Mayor.They also created a voter guide to inform the community about the candidates in the April 2nd run-off. Not to mention they just wrapped their absentee ballot chase program in the CCJ to ensure people in pre-trial detention were able to vote.

Leaders Igniting Transformation is helping young voters stay informed and excited ahead of local elections on April 2nd where people will be voting for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Milwaukee School Board. They hosted two major events to get voters energized and meet the candidates including the “Black and Brown Get Down” and “Ballot Bash”—Milwaukee’s largest civic engagement event for young people. This week, they got almost every candidate running for the Milwaukee School Board to sign on to their Youth Power Agenda, advocating to remove officers from schools, create an inclusive school code, and more – all while knocking on 30,000 doors and running the largest digital GOTV program in the state!

MOVE Texas is gearing up for the San Antonio election on May 4th by hosting a “San Antonio Night Live” event where young people learn about the mayoral and city council candidates in a setting that breaks down the formal barriers of traditional candidate forums (there is a talent show portion!). Outside of candidate engagement, field organizers have registered over 3,300 voters in 2019 alone and are planning to run a voter guide program to educate young voters in San Antonio as well as Dallas for their local elections.  

From Chicago to San Antonio, we are seeing some epic hustle from our network to ensure young people are registered, educated, and turning out in every race ahead of 2020.

Now for some exciting news from the Alliance family!

Our team just got a little bit bigger! We are excited to welcome the Alliance’s new Issue Campaigns Director, Gary Decker. Gary joins us after working for the last six years at a non-profit consulting firm leading organizational strategy development initiatives and facilitating public policy dialogues related to climate change and sustainable economies and industries. Gary is an expert in building coalitions, developing and executing impactful strategy, and engaging with young people to take the lead on critical issues.

In his new role, Gary will be leading our issue campaign work and supporting our network on our Democracy Done Right campaign. He will also represent the Alliance in voting rights coalition spaces to ensure the voices of young people and our network are well represented. In his free time Gary plays and watches more soccer than he would care to admit and enjoys a nice cocktail as well as stand-up comedy. Please join us in welcoming Gary to the team!

Last, we have an exciting update about one of our current staff members. Daniela Mrabti joined the Alliance (then BusFederation) in 2016 and has grown with the organization through a cross-country move, name change, and more. She has worked on everything from National Voter Registration Day to managing our conference. After honing her skills in digital communications for the past couple of years, we are excited to announce Daniela is transitioning into a new role at the Alliance – our Communications Manager! Daniela will be working closely with our future Senior Director of Communications to build out the Alliance’s communications department and help tell the story of our network. Congrats, Daniela!

Stay tuned for more updates from our network. For now, cheers to local elections and a growing staff!

The results are in: 2018 was a HUGE year for the Alliance network

2018 was one of our Biggest. Years. Yet. We expanded our network to nearly 20 states, championed progressive policies to increase access to the ballot and make college more affordable, dominated the midterm elections crushing youth turnout records, sent over $2 million directly to local field organizing, and so much more.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out our brand new 2018 Annual Report! From program to pushing resources to the field, read about how the Alliance is growing and building a network of young people, by young people, for all people.


None of this work would be possible without the incredible support of folks like you. Thank you for supporting the Alliance and our vision to build young people’s political power coast to coast.

Cheers to a successful 2018 and hello to 2019 and beyond.