Howard University recently made headlines for its efforts to encourage students to register to vote the minute they stepped on campus. And with midterm elections right around the corner on November 6, universities, celebrity activists, youth-serving organizations, and young people themselves around the country are urging young voters to head to the polls.
Meanwhile, DoSomething.org is offering students a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship if they run a voter registration booth at their school before September 30 and the chance to win a $3,000 scholarship if they answer a poll about their thoughts on the current state of U.S. politics. You can also take a short quiz to see if you’re ready to vote.
Mikva Challenge D.C., an America’s Promise Alliance member that is currently working with local D.C. high school students on voter registration, voter turnout, and examining the candidates for the D.C. City Council race, believes elected officials have a lot to gain from hearing young people’s voices.
“Young people have important expertise to share with elected leaders about issues ranging from public schools, to transportation to and from school, to access to healthy food in their neighborhoods,” said Robyn Lingo, executive director of Mikva Challenge D.C. “One way young people can have their voices heard and affect local policy is by being informed and active voters.”
Earlier this year, YouthBuild founder Dorothy Stoneman said every organization serving young people should do two things: create a youth advisory council and make sure young people are registered to vote.
These efforts aren’t necessarily pushing a particular political party. Like other nonpartisan organizations focused on getting young people to vote—HeadCount, CIRCLE, and Young Voters, for example—they urge young voters to make their voices heard on issues they care about, whatever those issues may be.
“It is easy to feel hopeless. It is easy to believe you don’t have the power to make a difference. However, I believe it’s important to fight this feeling. One way that every individual can truly make a difference is by voting and voicing their opinion.”
Sanah Jivani, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Texas at San Antonio and former America’s Promise youth trustee, said she is voting this November because she cares about mental health policy.
“In middle school, I struggled with depression and self-harm every day,” she said. “So I am voting this November because I want to ensure that other students have the services and resources they need.”
Jivani founded the Love Your Natural Self Foundation to help other young people who have gone through similar struggles, and through it she’s advocated for and researched policies that would bring more mental health services to students.
She added that voting is important because it gives young people a chance to make an impact.
“It is easy to feel hopeless. It is easy to believe you don’t have the power to make a difference,” she said. “However, I believe it’s important to fight this feeling. One way that every individual can truly make a difference is by voting and voicing their opinion.”
For those who haven’t registered to vote yet, there are plenty of apps for that. You can find out if you’re registered—and register if you’re not—at Vote.org, share GIFs with registration deadlines by state through VoteGifs, and HelloVote even lets you register with a simple text. And don’t wait—most state deadlines to register for November’s midterms are coming up in October.
The 5 Promises represent conditions children need to achieve adult success. The collective work of the Alliance involves keeping these promises to America’s youth. This article relates to the promises highlighted below:
The following grants and funding opportunities are currently accepting applicants. These grants are not offered through America's Promise Alliance, but they each relate to our Five Promises. If you have questions about these opportunities, please follow the links provided in each item.
America's Promise welcomes four new partners: Spark, All Our Children, The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, and FSG have joined America’s Promise as alliance partners! Find out more about these organizations here.
Outgoing board member Malcolm Davis recently made an important point about youth leadership: “My voice is not only valid when I sing the praises of the board. It’s valid when I speak against it and disagree with something.” We couldn’t agree more.