What a week! Our entire team is in awe of the incredible work and the result in Alabama. The turnout of young people and black voters, specifically black women, puts front and center the founding principle of the Alliance’s theory of change — when people from/in their local communities lead, organize and make their collective voice heard, our democracy is stronger and better reflects our values. In addition to glorious victory for democracy on Tuesday — we also have some pretty exciting news at the Alliance!
On Monday, our boards of directors formally approved a new Alliance Affiliate: Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
At the Alliance, we’ve always believed that locally-led, youth-led political institutions have the power to change the world. We’ve seen it demonstrated with Chicago Votes, Engage Miami, Ohio Student Association, and MOVE San Antonio that the Alliance model can be adapted and implemented all over the country. Now, we’re helping a new operation get off the ground and we’re not just going in for 2018 — we’re incubating new infrastructure to last.
We first met LIT as part of the 16 young leaders from Wisconsin who received scholarships to attend the Youth Organizing Summit (Thanks, Brico Fund!) in April. Right after the conference, LIT became a Youth Organizing Partner and almost immediately, our program staff and local leaders flagged LIT as a rising star in the Midwest and prompted incubation conversations with organizers, donors, and other progressive leaders on the ground. After an in-depth process of vetting and analysis, we concluded that we’re incredibly excited to work with Leaders Igniting Transformation!
Positioned on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee both translates and first served as an Indigenous ‘meeting place’ given its name by the Potawatomi Tribe. It couldn’t be more apparent that Milwaukee has deep community building and culture at it’s core.
Dakota Hall, founding Director of LIT has worked as a community organizer alongside his new board members and young volunteers at local organizations such as Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES!), and others. It’s a team reflective of the city’s heart and soul and they’re looking to build a new force for positive change.
The interest in this effort from the beginning has been tangible, both locally and nationally. Brico Fund, Movement Voter Project, NextGen America and a series of individual donors’ support have been critical for the Alliance to have space for a series of conversations in WI and to provide seed funding to these local leaders to develop their own plan.
LIT has a ton of work ahead of them in order to organize and mobilize a new generation of Milwaukeeans to build a community that works for everybody. In 2018 and beyond, they’ll be focusing on criminal justice reform, specifically fighting the school-to-prison pipeline and working to redistribute and invest misused public funds into schools and other public services; reinstating basic voting rights for marginalized communities and specifically during the voter registration process; and long-term economic justice through reducing the weight of student debt and promoting free community college for the next generation – plus a ton of the young voter mobilization and leadership development (in MKE called “Black Hogwarts”) that you’ve come to expect from Alliance affiliates.