2019-20 Forums

  Our YVote School Year 2019-20 In a Nutshell

It was a year like no other! Here’s an overview, with videos and photos to be shared in the future . A third of the year was captured only through Zoom screen shots and videos, which isn’t so interesting from a photographic standpoint, but wasn’t disastrous from a programmatic standpoint, thanks to YVoters’ resilience and tenacity throughout the spring.

DateTheme/LocationKey GoalsActivities
Sept 17Theme: Reconnect and Course-setting 
(Theater of the Oppressed)
  • Gather baseline info about where people are coming out of the summer and where they’d like to head

  • Reconnect and strengthen community

  • Provide opportunity for each voice to be heard and each presence to be fully honored

  • Learn about problems vs issues, who is “the man”/target
    1. Check-in: What is organizing to you? What do you want to accomplish this fall?
    2. Welcome back/Reconnect: Debrief of Town Hall, report outs on recent events (Right to a Future, Storytelling workshop)
    3. Revisiting Community Norms AND base-line framing around the role youth can play in the 2020 election and beyond, drawing upon CIRCLE’s Growing Voters research  
    4. Community Building/Voice sharing: envisioning YOUR role in crafting a #2020VisionForChange as part of the Youth Agenda (hopes and dreams, skills and knowledge you most need to build) 
    5. How to Organize: Part I–organize around voter registration and voter commitment, have participants identify a target 
      • Define terms like campaign and strategy
      • Introduce the frame: A plan to organize your Folks and your Friends to force The Man to give you the Goods
    Sept 24Theme: Knowing and Navigating the Political Landscape
    (Civic Hall)
    • Think about voting in a visceral, multi-sensory way

    • Identify & discuss core questions in understanding NYS & NYC government:

    • Explore how power operates in our city & state

    • Revisit and deepen understanding of organizing, exploring what constitutes effective vs ineffective demand, and tactics to achieve them
    1. 5 Senses of Voting Rights: Collective Poem
    2. Article share: Civic Education Helps Create Young Voters and Activists
    3. Political education: how the landscape manifests (NYS & NYC Politics 101)–breakout groups for different govt bodies exploring their power and questions we think other youth would have about this function and/or how electeds in this role wield their power that may influence them to turn out to vote
      • Who holds that power & what power do they have?
      • How do we work within & outside the system to create change?
    1. How to Organize Part II: Effective Tactics, which tactics to use when and with whom, what are the implications for political agenda
    2. Scenarios to test out targets, like trying to get your apathetic cousin to register to vote and to commit to turning out, or trying to get people to pay attention to you leading a voter registration drive in your cafeteria
      • Round I: Initial Engagement
      • Round II: changing/ refining/expanding to escalate demands and ramp up tactics
    Oct 15Theme: Artivism
    (Sarah Woolworth Fine Arts Gallery, 5th Ave @83rd St)
    • Honor the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall–and reflect on other walls in our world today

    • Make connections from what we learned about how change happened in Germany 

    • Consider what tactics were used that could be applied in OUR campaigns
    1. Explore “Parallel Worlds” in Germany through the work of Stefan Roloff, a German-American artist born in West Berlin, and Harf Zimmermann, a German photographer born in Dresden who grew up in East Berlin, together for the first time in the United States. The exhibition deals with the fear instilled by the physical presence of the Berlin Wall, as cultivated by the wall-regime (Roloff) and the regime’s inner pettiness and internalized fearfulness (Zimmermann). Living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall, Roloff and Zimmermann spent most of their lives not knowing about each other’s work or existence. We explored how the notion of parallel worlds–and walls–plays out in the U.S. and what we can do about it.
    2. Create skits to test out demands:
    1. Regroup. If your demands aren’t met, why weren’t they?  Identify blockages. What are the implications for your demands and tactics?  
      Oct 29 Theme: Equipping Ourselves for the Elections
      (Theater of the Oppressed)
      • Gain familiarity with issues in the upcoming local elections AND the broader state of youth voting today

      • Strengthen understanding of organizing and organizing strategies

      • Engage in in-depth workshopping of campaigns, incorporating organizing strategies and giving and getting feedback from other YVoters

      • Deepen commitment to YVote’s overarching aims and to rolling out campaigns related to it
      1. Reconnect: Name Gumbo
      2. Group Discussion: Upcoming Election Week–analysis of Early Voting and implications for young voters, What’s On the Ballot; What can WE do over the next week (and beyond) to foster engagement?
      3. Article Analysis: “Out with the Old, In With the Young” Op-Ed
        • How do young voters differ from older voters?
        • What needs to change / or is changing about our government when it comes to youth representation and issues young voters care about?
        • How can our actions support shifting that paradigm?
      1. Revisiting major takeaways from the first 3 How To Organize sessions on issue identification/ demands, targets and tactics
      2. Strategy Chart & Checklist Self Assess: What are pieces of your campaign that your team has questions about or want specific feedback from others on?
      3. Workshopping Our Campaigns: Campaign Share Out and Group Feedback
      Nov  12 Theme: Storytelling &Effective Outreach  (Civic Hall)
      • Guest facilitator Liz Ngonzi’s workshop, Digital Storytelling: How to Successfully Present Your Cause and Personal Brand Online
      1. Storytelling
      2. Activity: Tell your cause’s story
      3. Three platform to boost your cause
      4. Resources: Social Media Guides for causes
      Dec 3Theme: We Are The Stories We Tell
      (Civic Hall)
      • Apply storytelling to YVote and both of the campaigns as a way to foster purpose and connection

      • Identify gaps in knowledge in order to engage in purposeful research
      1. Reconnect: The Story of My Name
      2. Revisiting YVote’s mission through a storytelling lens (Problem, Solution, Impact) 
        • Discussion-based recap of Liz Ngonzi’s storytelling workshop
        • Activity:  Revising YVote’s Mission Statement
      1. Using Storytelling in your campaigns
          Article Review: “How Protests Become Successful Social Movements”
      2. Stages of a Campaign, Campaign Checklist & Timeline (in Campaign Breakout Groups)
      3. Whole Group: Building Organizer Skills
        • What have we learned so far?
        • What are topics and skills we need to focus on in our sessions or experience that are necessary for campaign success?
        Dec 17Theme: Research for Action & Impact
        (Theater of the Oppressed)
        • Engage in systems analysis

        • Dig into research necessary to fuel our campaigns
          Preview spring focus

        1. Reconnect: Resolutions for a Voting Revolution
        2. Problem Tree Group Exercise:
          • Root: Causes to Voting Issues–why do these issues / structures exist?
          • Trunk: What are the Systems (structures, practices, and policies) that institutionalize the problems?
          • Leaves: What are the problems you see facing your community?
        1. Research Mini Lesson: Using Keywords in Online Databases
          Movement Terms vs Mainstream Terms“Research & Language: Choosing Search Terms for Search Engines
        2. Campaign Group Work: Researching Your Issue
          As a team, develop a research plan between now and our next session that includes:
          • Research questions: What does your group need to know about the issue?Sources of Information: What type of information are you looking for? (some quantitative, give thought to scope, pull from multiple sources)
          • Where is the best place to find this information?
          • Roles: Who will conduct this research? 
          • Synergies: How will you share your findings so that your team is informed to make a final decision and begin developing your campaign strategy?
        1. Campaign Working Time
          Revisit “Stages of a Campaign”, Campaign Planning & Timeline Worksheet, and “Campaign Checklist” from last time, with an emphasis on research
        2. Call to Action: What Do We Expect for Jan
          Spring Focus: Campaign Building and Implementation
        Jan 7 Theme: What Does #2020Vision ForChange Mean to Us?
        (Theatre of the Oppressed)
        • Learn from YVote Alumni about what parts of YVote have helped them most in college, what additional skills and knowledge would be helpful to build, and how YVoters can equip themselves to navigate their first year of college most effectively 
        • Commit to one of the two campaigns, assess progress to date, get feedback and support from YVote alums, and architect next steps and how they’ll be actualized
        1. Reconnect: Revisiting Resolutions For the Revolution
        2. Alumni Panel: The First Semester–Academics and Activism
        3. Where Do We Want To Focus Our Efforts and Energy in 2020?: Deliberation and Prioritization
        4. Campaign Organizing: Each campaign group to revisit their work from the fall, takes stock of where they are, get valuable feedback from YVote alums, and sketch out next steps and commitments
        Jan 21Theme: Collaborating for Equity & Impact
        (WNET/ Channel 13)
        • Forge collaborations with WNET and Bronx Community Action Team (BxCAT)
          1. Warm Up Activity: The Imposter Participants write down 3 facts about themselves on index cards: 
            • Speak to what drives you/connects you to social justice or civic engagement
            • Speak to what you’re looking forward to during our time together
            • Speak to one interesting thing about yourself that you’d like us to know

            Shuffle and redistribute cards, reading the facts of someone else and ending with “My Name Is…” after which the person who wrote it identifies themselves
          1. Youth Collective Advisors presents WNET’s work to YVote  
          2. YVote introduces their work and shares highlights from the Youth Town Hall Activation Stations to inspire Youth Collective’s March conference 
          3. 2020 Voter Pre-Registration Training led by NYCVotes’ Olivia Brady
            • How to Organize a Voter Registration Drive
            • Best Practices when Registering VotersData on the Bronx and Congress District 15
            • Brainstorm ideas for voter drives & other civic initiatives to coincide with pre-reg
          Feb 11Theme: What Success Looks Like in the Second Semester
          (Civic Hall)
          • Review, Roleplay, and Plan Voter Pre-Registration

          • Craft Campaign Action Statements

          • Recalibrate roles and structures for maximum efficacy
            1. Reconnect: Musical Mingle
            2. Revisiting Pre-Registration and Role Plays
              • What were your key takeaways from last month’s workshop (refresher slides here)?
              • What open questions are still on your mind?
              • What, if any, additional information or resources do you feel you need in order to design and implement a pre-registration drive at your school the week of Mar 2?
              • Tips and strategies for motivating people
              • How to engage with different populations, like immigrants
              • Voter Pre-Registration Scenarios to Role-play: “I don’t care/voting doesn’t matter” “I have no idea where I’m going to be two years from now” “I’m too busy” “Trump is going to win so what difference does my vote make?” “New York is a blue state so what difference does my vote make?” “As a person of color who is constantly experiencing many forms of oppression in America, I feel demoralized towards voting”
            1. Overview of Semester 2 and Campaign Work
              • New Year, New Focus: YVote 2020 Experience
              • Overview
              • Campaign Action Statements: Adapting Platform to Incorporate Next Steps
              • Leadership Compass Activity
              • New YVote Structure: YVote 2020 Leadership Model
            Feb 25Theme: Situating ourselves in the civic landscape (Civic Hall)
            • Plan voter registration drives

            • Learn about and align with Civics for All campaign and Civics Week

            • Choose right level of leadership and engagement
            1. Reconnect: Voting Today in the USA quizzo
            2. Designing a pre-registration drive and/or workshop for your school, using Planner Doc
            3. Overview of Civics for All and Student Voice within the NYC Department of Education and how our YVoters can actively collaborate and participate
            4. Leadership Reflection, Roles, and structure
              Leadership Direction Breakout Groups: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership style? What are ways you’d like to develop and grow your leadership
              Regroup/Debrief: How do some of these play out in our own campaigns?How can we move forward as a team and support each other so that we all can take ownership of our success/ achievements?
            5. Dividing up into Campaign Leads, who will meet biweekly, and Activists, who will meet monthly
            Mar 11Theme: Becoming Leaders–Campaign Leads
            (Civic Hall)
            • Shift into Leadership Roles

            • Define refined vision

            • Analyze data to inform action planning

            • Set concrete, actionable goals
            1. Post Super Tuesday Analysis
            2. Hopes, fears, and expectations for new roles
            3. Leadership Compass Debrief: Deeper Dive
            4. Setting goals for our voter registration and mobilization efforts, using data as a jumping off point for goal setting
              • Analyzing data from two sources, hone in on what data is most useful to us in setting a goal for voter registration and mobilization?
              • What further information do we feel we need (i.e. demographic and SES data)?
              • Using the goal setting sheet, identify a DREAM goal and 2-3 steps / milestones to help us accomplish the bigger role.
            1. Campaign Development
              • Voter Mobilization Leaders: HOW can we support eligible voters in registering and showing up to vote in upcoming elections? WHAT are potential pathways for successful mobilization?
              • Civic Ed Leaders: HOW can we educate new and prospective voters about their role in our democracy? WHAT foundational knowledge will help them feel informed to turn out?
            1. Action Planning. Over the next 3-4 months (March, April, May, June):
              • WHAT is to be done (Be as specific and concrete as possible)
              • WHO can help (what resources they may need?)
              • WHEN it should be done by
            Mar 24Theme: Corona edition….–Campaign Leads & Activists (Zoom)
            • Revisit campaigns through the lens of COVID-19 and consider how to adapt in response

            • Engage in some longer term envisioning and planning
            1. Reconnect: How are we holding up? What are you learning BEYOND school?  
            2. Election Update: Analyzing youth vote–and media distortions and oversights
            3. Campaign Reconnect
              • Campaign Updates from the Leadership Teams
              • Input by Activists
              • Goal-setting and Timeline setting
            1. Campaign Vision Work
              • Where do you hope your campaign will be by the end of Summer/before the next school year?
              • What is your dream goal to accomplish leading up to the 2020 election?
              • What are actions you envision us taking as a collective?
              • How do you see YVote being successful in our organizing?
              • What does success look like for your campaign?
            1. Closing community building ritual: What are you HOPING to learn during the time ahead? What kind of support/accountability do you need? 
            April 7Theme: We Are Not (Just) Quaranteens–Campaign Leads
            • Debrief last full YVote meeting and implications for future work

            • Concretize clear focus and methods for our campaigns

            • Commit to necessary next steps to realize our visions
            1. Reconnect:  If you could sing any song with your neighbors in this time of social distancing, what would it be?
            2. Reflect: how might we envision and operationalize an effective strategy for voter mobilization in the context of Corona?
            3. Debriefing Mar 24 Collective Mtg
              • What did you learn from presenting your campaign?
              • What went well and what was challenging?
              • How can we facilitate better next time?
            1. Revisiting our campaigns: Where are we and where are we heading?
              • What are the key activities we want to undertake?
              • Firm up communication 
              • Bring forward the question of how long we anticipate our campaigns to be Practice and implement clear decision-making within our leadership team: link to chart
            1. Preparing for Sharing:
              • What do we want to share with the activists/our Campaign Groups and how do we want to share it?
              • What norms do we want to institute and what protocols for inclusion might we use?
              • How can we ensure that we get buy in for online communication btw meetings and clarity about what platform everyone can agree to use?
            April 21Theme: Full Steam Ahead–Campaign Leads and Activists
            • Have Campaign Leads share work since last full YVote meeting and implications for future work

            • Engage full array of activists in concretizing clear focus and methods for our campaigns

            • Commit to necessary next steps to move our visions forward
            1. Campaign Time
              Civic Ed Campaign

              Voter Mobilization Campaign
              • Solidify Overarching Goal: Educate people about the importance of voting in every election through online resources
                Prioritizing Strategies using Decision-making chart
              • Mobilizing young people around absentee ballots and/or online voter registration: what we can do
            1. Campaign Shares and Synergies
            2. Prep for May 5 Take Back the Vote Youth Rally
            May 5Theme: Rally Forward–Campaign Leads
            • Make youth voices heard by elected officials who can influence Online Voter Registration

            • Practice distilling core ideas into compelling stories

            • Explore how to translate enthusiasm into calls to action and commitments
              1. Take Back the Vote Youth Rally at www.facebook.com/NYCPublicAdvocate
                Key goals:
                • Advocate for implementing NYC Online Voter Registration (OVR) during the COVID-19 outbreak
                • Highlight the disenfranchisement that will occur if the city and state do not take action to make a more inclusive, safer voter registration process 
                • Hold elected officials accountable for moving OVR forward
                • Share with people how they can take action from home to support OVR
                • Give youth the opportunity to speak about experiences participating in a democratic process that is not accessible 
              1. Debrief Rally: What did you think? What surprised you? What excited you? What concerned you? What questions are still on your mind?  What do you think we can do to continue to push for online voter registration and other reforms that foster youth voter participation and civic participation?
              2. Debriefing the last Activist Meeting: what worked, what didn’t, and what do we need to do next?
              3. Campaign Group
              May 19Theme: COVID Can’t Stop Us–Campaign Leads and Activists
              • Have Campaign Leads share work since last full YVote meeting and implications for future work

              • Engage full array of activists in concretizing clear focus and methods for our campaigns

              • Commit to necessary next steps to move our visions forward
              1. Campaign Time
                Civic Ed Guiding Questions: 
                #1: What information do we need the entire civic ed campaign to learn from us?
                #2: How can the activists outside of our campaign be involved and support this campaign?
                #3: Which research tools that we’ve learned that we want to revisit
                #4: How do we want to introduce our set community agreements
                #5: What Organizing 101 concepts do we need to revisit for our campaign (for newer members of our team, and for where we are specifically in our campaign)

                Voter Mobilization 
                What did we decide on?
              1. Campaign Shares–sussing out synergies
              2. Debriefing May 5 Take Back the Youth Rally 
              3. Overview of YVote Summer 2020 and roles you can play
              June 2Theme: Shoring Up Our Corps/Core–Campaign Leads
              • Debrief the moment we’re in–and connections to the work we do

              • Debrief last full YVote meeting, synergies between our work, and how to continue building out our campaigns

              • Reflect on how we’re going to communicate about and disseminate the work we’re cooking up–and experiment with giving elevator pitches about it
              1. Processing the moment–and implications for our work as Campaign Leads
              2. Individual Campaign Time
                Building off of last sessions’s share out:
                • where are the entry points for collaboration?
                • How can we support one another’s efforts?
                • What are clarifying points we need to address?
                Opening triptych:
                • What’s going well?
                • What’s not going well?
                • How can we support one another?
              1. Communication, Outreach, and Distribution
                • How are we going to ensure that the amazing resources we are creating find a (broad) audience?
                • How will we build momentum and gain visibility?
                • What kind of work do we need to do NOW (aka building a following, teeing up media…) in order to ensure eye share?
                • How do we talk to our friends–and strangers– about the work we do?
                • How do we do this in person–and online?
                • Drafting, delivering, and debriefing Elevator Pitches?
              1. Reflection
                • How was that activity?
                • What are the challenges around this?
                • How can we utilize these pitches to get word out about our work?
                • Who do you commit to speaking with between now and our next full group mtg?
                • Plan to share your experiences giving these pitches and how they go at our next Collective mtg; we’ll spend time developing more in-depth communication and dissemination strategies. 
              June 19Theme: Whatta Year
              • Debrief the moment we’re in–and connections to the work we do

              • Continue to refine and develop our campaigns

              • Reflect on how we’re going to communicate about and disseminate the work we’re cooking up–and experiment with conducting

              • Elevator Conversations about to build power and influence
              1. Processing the moment–and implications for our collective work
                • What are we dreaming of for the way we want this world to look like?
                • What are the implications of what’s going on?
                • What changes have you been seeing?
                • What changes haven’t you been seeing?
                • How does this transform the nature of organizing and the tactics we use?
                • How can you envision YVote fitting into the equation?
              1. Campaign Time
                Civic Ed
              1. Conducting Elevator Conversations to influence peers and strangers
                • Practice/model being in dialogue with people we are already in relationship with and to whom you want to try to impart some insight or awareness
                • Think about how you might frame it to an ally vs a stranger or adversary (someone who is either apathetic or oppositional)
                • Think about some key stakeholders of interest–a single mom who has child care issues to consider
                • Giving Feedback burgers
              1. Debrief: How does practice like this help you discern 1) what you want to say 2) how you want to say it 3) how to really engage the other person, listen to them, and respond on your feet?
              2. Closing: Reflecting on the year together and what lies ahead
                Zoom white board
                • page 1 – What are some of the things you’re taking away?
                • page 2 – What are some of the things you’re carrying forward?
                • Fill out year end survey here
              June 30Theme: Reflections of…A Supreme Year