In 2008 and 2012, we collectively witnessed the power and historic impact of young people when they engage politically. We also witnessed the consequences of an older electorate in 2010 and 2014 that does not include the boldness and idealism of the younger generation. Imagine how different our country would be politically if we extended multiple opportunities for year-round citizen participation in governance to all young people (18-29).
Thanks to recent research and innovation in youth and student voter engagement, vibrant millennial social movements, and new donor interest, that future is now well within our grasp. At least 80 electoral votes in 2012 depended on young people and contrary to popular belief, in states where there is investment and access, young people participate in elections and ballot initiative campaigns at higher rates than the rest of the country.
YEF supported a Youth Electoral Significance Index tool for donors and practitioners to better prioritize investments in key states where youth participation
on issue, advocacy, and election-year efforts will be determinative. Young people will be especially important to mobilize in states like CO and FL, among other states.
In addition, the Analyst Institute, State Voices, and the Youth Engagement Fund are discussing research and testing on interventions to make recently registered youth in key states habitual, frequent voters.
For the first time YEF is supporting the fight for criminal justice reform, funding a national field scan of student organizing against mass incarceration.
While many describe the Millennial generation as apathetic and politically unengaged, research shows otherwise. Millennials volunteer in their communities and organize around important issues like criminal justice reform, climate change, and student debt, but many don’t see voting as a viable option for progressive change. YEF is seeding solutions that are self-sustaining and replicable by other funders. Together, we can build a progressive future.