Youth leaders have been instrumental in leading progressive movements throughout American history. During the Civil Rights Movement, young people played a pivotal role in ending segregation through nonviolent sit-ins and walk-outs. Youth organizers in the late sixties were responsible for lowering the voting age to 18. And more recently, Parkland students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized one of the largest youth-led protests to date, mobilizing over 1.2 million people for the March for Our Lives protest.
Young people are still using their collective power to lead change-making movements. Our series – Following Their Lead: Youth in Action – spotlights youth-led advocacy groups across the country who are creating positive change on critical social and political issues.
Young people are experts on their lives and the change they want to see in the world; they also bear the consequences of today’s decision-making. Their voices are powerful and should be heard. The youth voice needs to be at the decision-making table for all issues. Their help is essential for an inclusive and responsive democracy.
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Youth Rise Texas
Historically, Black, Latinx and young voters have had the smallest turnout rates in U.S. elections. So, leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Youth Rise Texas organized a voter mobilization event for young people and minorities in east Austin.
Youth Rise Texas is an Austin-based nonprofit comprised of young leaders directly impacted by incarceration and deportation. For more on how this organization works to create inclusive and compassionate communities, go to youthrisetx.org.
RISE for Youth
RISE for Youth is leading the way to end youth incarceration in Virginia. In 2017, RISE successfully led the fight for the closure of Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center, which had been in operation since 1890, and the reinvestment of millions of dollars into community-based services. Later that year, RISE was instrumental in stopping the construction of a new youth prison in Chesapeake. Virginia is now working with programs that provide rehabilitation for youth rather than harmful, outdated, and ineffective punishment.
RISE for Youth is a Virginia-based organization that advocates for alternatives to youth incarceration and is committed to uplifting the voices of justice system-involved youth to ensure that those most affected by the system have a seat at the decision-making table. For more information, go to riseforyouth.org.
Native Youth Alliance
Native Youth Alliance is focused on acquiring land for native youth homes, protecting the Omaha language from extinction, and stopping the Keystone XL pipeline. By working with the youth in the community, NYA strives to ensure that traditional Native American cultural and spiritual ways continue for the coming generations. Our video spotlights Alethea Phillips, NYA Program Director, in her fight against systemic injustice. For more information, visit facebook.com/NativeYouthAlliance.
Citizen University’s Youth Power Project gives young people from around the country the knowledge, skills, and connections for a lifetime of civic leadership. The latest video in our Youth in Action series spotlights several high school students from historically marginalized backgrounds who are breaking down barriers, building up communities, and transforming injustice - from creating safe spaces for LGBTQ teens to collecting feminine hygiene products for homeless women in Detroit to leading community workshops on cultural awareness. Check out what else Citizen University is doing to build a culture of powerful, responsible leadership: citizenuniversity.us
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