#2020VisionForChange Summer

This summer marked our fourth–and most exciting–year of programming in NYC. As always, we engaged a group of amazing teens from all five boroughs of NYC. But this year, we A) almost TRIPLED in size (hurray!) and B) operated entirely online (boo!–but not really because it was equally if differently powerful thanks to the engagement of this summer’s participants–check them out here–and our phenomenal near-peer facilitators–check them out here.

With a group of 120, first we divided into cohorts meeting on two different nights. Next, we divided into justice-focused Issue Action Groups within each cohort because we believe that an issue-based approach to voting is the most effective way to engage teens (and anyone) in caring, and then exploring how to create change, and then understanding the role electoral politics (blended with individual activism and collective action) can play in fostering voter engagement. This summer’s Action Groups were:

  • Climate Justice
  • Criminal Justice
  • Gender Justice (2 groups)
  • Immigration Justice (2 groups)
  • Inequality/Affordability/Gentrification
  • Racial Justice (2 groups)

So what exactly did we do? For an at-a-glance overview, see below:

SessionGuiding Questions
Session 1
July 14 & 16

Theme: Community Building and Knowledge Building
* Who are we–as a country and as a cohort?
* What is the state of voting today in the USA?
* What do we already know about electoral processes and what do we want to learn? 
* Where are we heading together and why?
* What can we learn from the history of youth activism and movement building in the U.S.–successes and failures, what worked and what didn’t, strategies to retain and to ditch–in order to build our own?

Check out Session I of our Tues cohort here (and get a taste of breakout group work here) and our Thurs cohort here
Session 2
July 20 & 22
Theme: Barriers
* What are the barriers to voting?
* Why DON’T people vote? 
* What are the institutional and external forces that contribute to this? 
* How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the electoral process? 
* Who receives the adequate resources needed to learn about political campaigns–including local, state, and federal policies–to make educated decisions in and beyond elections? Why?
* What can WE do about it?

Check out Session II of our Tues cohort here (with a taste of breakout group work on Issue Tree creation here) and our Thurs cohort here (with a taste of breakout group work here)
Session 3
July 28 & 30
Theme: De-Motivation and Motivation
* What motivates people to take political action?
* What demotivates them?
* How can we help remotivate those who find themselves left without any hope, trust, or desire to vote due to the hardships of the pandemic, the systemic generational injustices that have been underscored by the Black Lives Matter movement, and lack of excitement about the nominated Democratic presidential candidate? 
* How can we also take more longstanding historical demotivators into account?
* How do we hook people through the issues they (and we) care about?

Check out Session III of our Tues cohort here and our Thurs cohort here (with a taste of breakout group work here)
Session 4
Aug 4 & 6
Theme: Keeping Score
* What is the Electoral College, does it matter, and should it be reformed?
* What needs to be addressed on a local, state, or federal level (choose one) in relation to your Action Group’s issue?  
* Which political candidates are currently working on these issues?  
* How effectively do we think their policies are in tackling these problems? What’s missing?
* How can we visually represent how electeds and candidates are doing in relation to the issues we care about in ways our peers can relate to? 
* Which organizations (grassroots, non-profits, etc.) are currently taking time to do effective work as well? How can we get involved? 

Check out Session IV of our Tues cohort here and our Thurs cohort here
Day of Action
Sat, Aug 8

Theme: How Politics and Civics Play Out In Practice
100 YVoters chose from an exciting menu of interactive workshops led by community and city partners through which they gained exposure to various aspects of a political or civic campaign and/or city governance (through the Public Advocate’s Office and DemocracyNYC) to see how our issues are (or aren’t) being addressed and to build inter- generational and cross-organizational alliances.

Check out videos from:
* the opening session and What Is Organizing session with Democracy NYC here
* Using the Power of Your Voice: How To Develop Testimony For State and City Legislatures workshop here
* Reaching Goals through Activism with Creative Thinking here
* How to Organize and Message for a local City Council race w Chris Marte here
* The Right Side of the Aisle: History of Conservative Thought in America here
* Using Social Media for Social Action here
* our closing student summaries and synthesis of each workshop, and calls to action, here
Session 5
Aug 11 & 13
Theme: Messaging, Networking, and Outreach 
* How do we spread the voting gospel?
* What are key ways to have influence? 
* What are ways we can get people in our lives and throughout our city engaged in voting?
* What can we learn from other fields and industries about messaging?
* What are key aspects of our Action Group issues as they connect to electoral politics that people need to understand?
* How do we use digital organizing skills and tools to influence and engage communities?

Check out Session V of our Tues cohort here and our Thurs cohort here
Session 6
Aug 18 & 20
Theme: Bringing It Home, Building Forward
Teach-In: Each Action Group shared their draft Score Card and related digital campaign to influence young voters across the city and around the country, educating fellow YVoters on the issue while getting feedback to inform next steps
* What Did We Learn? 
* What Do We Want to Learn? 
* What Next?

Check out Session VI of our Tues cohort here and our Thurs cohort here