Collage of presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren

NYT Opinion: These 7 Million Young People Can Beat Trump

They will have turned 18 by Election Day. And they are more numerous and more liberal than swing voters.

Melanye Price, professor and author, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times about how powerful young voters will be for the 2020 election and the need to invest in youth-focused organizations like the Alliance for Youth Action. Click here to read the full article on NYTimes.com.

2019 Election Recap blog

2019 Election Recap đź—ł

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:

MONTANA

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

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!!

TEXAS

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

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.

One Year Out quote from Sarah Audelo

One Year Out

It’s Election Day! And we are one year out from one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. More eyes than ever will be on the 2020 race and while some may say that young people won’t turn out, we see every day how young people are leading change at the ballot box and in their communities.

We also know what it takes to win – year-round grassroots organizing to mobilize and empower the nation’s largest voting bloc. And that is exactly what we have been building in 2019 to prepare for 2020.

Alliance organizations will use innovative tactics to get out the youth vote today, on November 3rd, 2020, and all the elections in between including:

  • Registering 200,000 young voters
  • Distributing over 1 million voter guides to educate young voters about what’s on their ballot
  • Using innovative tactics to get out the vote like Parties at the Polls and Chicago Votes’ infamous Parades to the Polls
  • Hosting youth-focused candidate forums
  • Utilizing new digital tools to reach more young people
  • Engaging with artists and cultural influencers
  • Getting trained on the latest strategies to better utilize data systems
  • And much more

Not only are we growing young voters through these strategies, we are doing so as a united movement. In August, the Alliance brought together over 200 of the best and brightest young organizers from across the country, including our network, who are hard at work doing scaled, on-the-ground, electoral and issue organizing in their communities for the first-of-its-kind Youth Action Summit.

Young people are the largest, most diverse, most engaged voting bloc in the country. And through local, field-focused, youth-led organizing, we have been building the movement this country needs to get young people to vote on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020. But for every win that youth organizers make, there are dozens of naysayers who are critiquing the power of our generation. So, let’s tell the naysayers that we are not only on the right side of history, but we’re making change every single day across this country.

Support the movement that is of young people, by young people, and for all people today!

Tell the naysayers that young people are ready for 2020 by posting this message on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #OneYearOut!

Young organizers registering young people to vote for National Voter Registration Day

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!

New Era Colorado organizers registering young people to vote

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.

Headshots of Billy Koontz, Mariella Villacorta, and Kenny Myers

The team just keeps getting bigger

The Alliance network has been winning some major victories and scaling work to new heights. In order to match the brilliance and growth in our network, we need a national team and board that are just as awesome. We are thrilled to introduce to you all the newest members of the Alliance national staff and Alliance Boards of Directors!

Meet the powerhouses joining the Alliance staff

Billy Koontz

Billy Koontz

As the Finance Director, Billy monitors and maintains organization-wide financial management systems to ensure high quality internal controls, accurate financial reporting, and effective financial analysis and planning. Billy is excited to begin his professional organizing career, previously only volunteering on U.S. Senate & House campaigns in Texas. Prior to working at the Alliance, he worked in numerous financial analysis and accounting management roles within a variety of publicly traded corporations. Billy is excited to have an opportunity to put his finance and accounting skills to use for an organization that truly aligns with his strong desire for political engagement. Billy recently moved back to Washington, D.C. to work at the Alliance, and is very eager to contribute to the team and mission!

Mariella Villacorta

Mariella Villacorta

Mariella was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador and immigrated at the age of 11 with her family to the outskirts of Washington, D.C. She believes in the power of community and youth advocacy for a just and inclusive future. In college, she advocated for marginalized student’s issues to support a better campus environment for students of color, undocumented, first generation, LGBTQIA+, students with disabilities, and other underrepresented folks. After, she worked with progressive candidates at the local level to grow grassroots campaigns and win critical victories in Maryland. She’s excited to support transformational organizing and young people’s empowerment as the new Development Associate at the Alliance. Let’s get this money!

Kenny Myers

Kenny Myers

Kenny just moved to Washington, D.C. from Ohio to join the Alliance. Before this, he worked as the National Events Manager at Brass Tactics, where he guided earned media “disruption” campaigns nationwide focused on the climate crisis and protecting public lands. He also has extensive experience in scaling up electoral field work on both local and statewide levels. Joining a growing program team at the Alliance, Kenny supports affiliates to develop badass programs that deliver real wins and results for our generation

Meet the new minds powering the Alliance’s Boards of Directors

Several of our board members are transitioning out due to some exciting, new roles they are taking on that leave them with less capacity ( ie congrats Kelley Robinson, new ED of Planned Parenthood Action Fund!). While we are bummed to see some of these board members go, once you’re part of the Alliance, you will always stay part of the fam <3 Join us in welcoming these incredible new members to our board!

Cindy Kang

Cindy Kang

Cindy believes in the power of organizing to create a more just world and that young people are the future, which is why she’s thrilled to serve on the Alliance board! She currently serves as Managing Director at The Management Center, supporting social justice leaders to build and run effective organizations. She got her start as a field organizer with Green Corps, where she gained the training and inspiration for a career in social change. Over the next 12 years, she served in various leadership roles at Green Corps including Executive Director. Cindy then served as Managing Director and then Executive Director of Citizen Engagement Lab (CEL), where she supported social change entrepreneurs in launching innovative projects and startups. Cindy lives in Berkeley, California, where she’s likely to be found eating tacos or hanging out with her orange cat named Juice.

Daniel Gonzales

Daniel Gonzalez

Daniel is the *new* Director of Planning and Program Analysis at America Votes. Previously he worked for five years at the Analyst Institute, bringing evidence-based programming to groups across the country. Daniel lives in Colorado and has worked to center voices of color in his work at AI, the Colorado c3 table, and Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).

Juan Escalante

Juan Escalante

Juan is a nationally renowned immigration advocate and online strategist who recently moved to Washington, D.C. from Tallahassee, FL. He has been fighting for the Dream Act and pro-immigration at all levels of government for the past ten years. Escalante’s work has been published by the Miami Herald, VOX, the Huffington Post, USA Today, and other major outlets. He currently designs digital campaigns for FWD.us, where he helps organize and local efforts through a variety of online platforms to get pro-migrant legislation enacted.

LiJia Gong

In LiJia’s current role at Public Rights Project, she supports state and local governments in protecting and advocating for civil rights, economic justice, and environmental protection. Previously, she worked on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s reelection campaign and worked as a litigator in private practice. LiJia is also a proud founder and member of Radfund, a group of friends that give at least 1% of our income and .1% of our wealth to folks organizing around racial economic justice in NYC. One of the things that brought the folks in Radfund together is that we all love to dance–and LiJia is no exception! They are thrilled to be joining the Alliance Board, because they believe that local organizing of young people is the key to transformative change–and to winning elections! LiJia is excited to follow the lead of young people on organizing, social change, and–most importantly–dance moves.

Oscar Boleman

Oscar Boleman

Oscar grew up in Galveston Island, then received a BA from Baylor in Psychology and Philosophy. He has worked for political campaigns, community organizing groups and state-level PACs and is currently the National Data Manager at America Votes. Oscar says that being a part of Alliance for Youth Action’s board is a humbling and exciting commitment. One of the issues that he has always seen faced by youth-engaged orgs is that they’re seen as the “kiddie tables” of the political space, where they should be treated as incubators for future leaders and their novel ideas. Seeing the actions taken by the Alliance affiliates and partners reignites what first got him interested in pro-social advocacy/politics. Oscar can’t wait for the opportunity to pitch in and help with the development of new campaigns for the Alliance and its affiliates and partners to continue fighting for a more equitable and future-facing society.

Paola Ramos

Paola Ramos

Paola is the host of VICE’s “Latin-X”, a weekly contributor for Telemundo News and a fellow at Laurene Powell Jobs’ foundation, Emerson Collective. She was the former Deputy Director of Hispanic Media for Hillary Clinton, as well as a former political appointee in the Obama White House and an Obama 2012 campaign staffer. Throughout all of these platforms, Ramos focused on using creative means to uplift the stories and voices of the Latinx community. She’s also in the process of writing her first book, which defines the Latinx movement and reimagines our power. Ramos received her B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and her MPP from Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

Vaughn Frisby

Vaughn Frisby

Vaughn currently serves as the Director of Individual Giving for SPUR, a Bay Area urban planning and policy think tank. Vaughn’s previous roles include the Associate Director of Individual Giving for Worldreader, the Senior Major Gifts Officer at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the Assistant Advancement Director at The Sierra Club. Outside of the office, Vaughn is a regular participant in AIDS/Lifecycle and enjoys traveling. Vaughn holds a BA in Sociology from Goucher College and a M.A. in International Development and Social Change from Clark University.

We are beyond thrilled to have such fierce advocates for youth political power joining our team and board. Join us in welcoming these new faces to the Alliance fam.

Organizers with MOVE Texas holding up I Voted stickers

Sign our petition: CONGRESS MUST PROTECT AND EXPAND YOUTH VOTER ACCESS

At the Alliance, we are fierce advocates for protecting the right to vote, expanding access to the ballot box, and ensuring that all voices are heard in our democracy. That’s why we partnered with the Daily Kos to launch this petition calling on Congress to protect and expand youth voter access. Sign the petition today!


Sign Our Petition: Congress Must Protect and Expand Youth Voter Access

August will mark the 54th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. As we take the time to reflect on watershed moments of the past, we should remind ourselves of the role that young people played to secure these victories for civil and civic rights. Young people are still leading on critical issues for our democracy, including on the protection and expansion of voting rights.

It is young people stepping up at the state and local levels, getting organized, and taking action that often secure crucial democratic victories that are later enshrined into federal law. Today, we have numerous examples of this youth power and leadership in motion – whether it is The Bus Project leading the charge to make Oregon the first state in the nation to pass automatic voter registration, New Era Colorado delivering pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds and online voter registration across the state, or Chicago Votes ensuring that those in pre-trial detention have access to the ballot. As a part of the Alliance for Youth Action network, these organizations mobilize young people to secure our democracy for all people.

However, too many young people still face obstacles to exercising their constitutional right to vote. It is crucial that young people have a voice in government and the chance to secure a more equitable future. The current system for voter registration and access leaves millions of younger potential voters outside of the political system, with young people of color disproportionately impacted.

Congress must now follow the lead of youth-led organizations to welcome young voters into our democracy. This is done by prioritizing automatic voter registration, pre-registration, longer early voting periods, same-day voter registration, accessible voting locations, and vote-by-mail. Removing barriers to voter registration and access to the ballot is strongly linked to higher turnout and our democracy is best when all feel empowered to exercise their right to vote.

Our message to Congress:

We are asking you to protect voting rights and access to the ballot – especially for young voters. Young voters are now the largest eligible voting population and unnecessary obstacles to the polls put democracy out of reach for far too many. Congress must ensure all Americans have not only the right to vote but access to the vote as well.

Sign the petition here. 

Bold policy change is how we win

Bold Policy Change Is How We Win

Young people represent the largest, most diverse, and progressive generations this nation has ever seen. Now we represent the largest voting bloc in the country. According to our poll conducted in partnership with TargetSmart and Civiqs, young voters are energized and ready to flex their power in 2020.

According to our poll, likely Democratic primary voters aged 18-34 proved what we know to be true and what our network experiences in the field every day. A clear majority of Millennial and Generation Z voters want Democratic candidates to focus on bold, progressive policy, not just beating Donald Trump. It is not enough for candidates to be anti-Trump. Candidates must show that they are willing to bring our issues to the table and have robust plans for how to address them. 

Young people feel the pressures of burdening student debt, high housing costs, worsening climate threats, terrifying gun violence, and more. These issues drive our votes because they dictate our lives. We will vote for a candidate who aligns with our ideals, stands up for our lives, and fights for our future––not just someone who seems “electable”.

But that’s not all – not only do young people want big, bold policy change, but they are engaged, paying attention, and ready to throw down. And that engagement is highest among young voters of color—more than eight in 10 (82 percent) young black voters say they feel engaged in the process and nearly eight in 10 young latinx voters (77 percent) say they are very enthusiastic about the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest. 

The Alliance for Youth Action network of youth-led organizations has been on the frontlines fighting for policy change for years. Whether it is Pennsylvania Student Power Network advocating for free college, Chicago Votes fighting for the right to vote for people in pre-trial detention, Forward Montana protecting public lands, or Leaders Igniting Transformation pushing for an end to the school to prison pipeline –– these local young people’s organizations have been at the forefront of pushing progressive policy. Candidates should not only pay attention to the issues young people care about, but also look to young leaders for how we can win on these issues. 

Over the past couple of years, young people have demanded a seat at the table. From gun violence prevention to climate justice, we have sparked social movements and ignited change. We want a candidate who can match this energy and fight to build the country we all want and deserve. Will the candidates step up to the challenge? We certainly hope so. We will watch the first 2020 Democratic debates tonight and tomorrow to find out and we know we won’t be watching alone. 

Please join us here as we live-Tweet both nights. 

For more information about this poll, see our press release here. We’re over a year out from the 2020 election, but network organizations are busy getting ready to engage up and down the ballot, young people are ready to make their voices heard, and we couldn’t be more excited to support and uplift this work. 

To the power of young people,

Sarah Audelo
Executive Director

Next Up staff smiling in front of Oregon State Capitol

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.

New Era Colorado

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.

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