Winter 2020 Partnerships

At YVote, we looove to partner with other organizations to build their capacity and commitment to voting and civic engagement. Here are some highlights from our partnerships:

Black Lives Matter Teen Conference

YVote was honored to be invited to facilitate a workshop to 125+ budding activists at the fourth annual Black Lives Matter Teen Conference at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on February 8, 2020. YVote was able represented by ace facilitators Divine Soona Ndombo, Marsela Doko, and Yessii Burgos

Divine, Marsela, and Yessii did an outstanding job guiding participants in making connections between the issues they care about, WHY they need to vote, and how to do so. We opened with a brief overview of YVote and a warm-up round of Stand Up, Sit Down. Examples:

STAND UP if you ever felt like you had to advocate for yourself/others due to skin color.

STAND UP if you’ve ever been made to feel uncomfortable about your accent, or the language you spoke.   

It was a great way of activating the room. Now primed and pumped, we plunged into exploration of activism and social change, first defining what activism is

It was fascinating to hear what change means to workshop participants:

Our peer facilitators guided participants through an exploration of different kinds of activism, historic examples, and how they play out today:

This of course led us into the Y (and the why) of YVote and the power and potential of the youth vote, how much participants do and don’t know about the current state of youth voting, and the barriers young people face. It was illuminating and heart-breaking to hear participants’ reflections on the ways they feel young people are being ignored and blocked

We closed with participants competing to show what they know and remember about the voting facts we discussed today through a rousing round of crowd-pleaser Kahoot:

Of course, we ended with a rousing Call to Action–and getting 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register and everyone over 18 to register to vote.

Overall, participants emerged feeling energized and equipped to not just vote but to get ALL their friends and families to vote. They can and WILL make a difference.

Girl Scouts

YVote was honored to design and run the Cadette Advocacy track of the Girl Scouts’ first GIRL–Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™–Guide to Taking Action Seminar series for 35 dynamic middle school girls in Jan & Feb 2020. This enabled us to take our near-peer leadership model to a new level and start pipelining earlier by working with 6th-8th graders. No surprise: these tweens are very passionate about making their communities better and how they can play a role in being change agents. We were honored to help them build skills and knowledge over the course of five weeks focusing on Voting, Mapping Community Needs and Assets, Advocacy 101, and Organizing, Direct Action, and Base-building culminating in the creation of advocacy projects.

The Cadette Institute are on Saturdays so you know we had to make it full of fun as well as full of learning. And we did:

Our brilliant Lead Facilitator Melody made the link between our interactive exercise having the Girl Scout Cadettes reflect on rules and which ones they’d like to change, and the importance of advocacy, in creating change

Do YOU know the difference between Community Service, Activism, and Advocacy? Our Cadettes now do and so will you. They rotated through stations, writing down and discussing their thoughts about each.

They GOT it, as they demonstrated in the debrief

Cadettes honed in on issues they are passionate about advocating for, and over the course of the five weeks, they developed projects around pressing issues of our time like school funding and quality, the environment, and homelessness. They are in the process of developing presentations they will deliver at a public event in May. We think they’re off to a great start 🙂

It was an honor to work with the Girl Scouts. We are super-impressed by the culture and high expectations they’ve created for their girls and hope to continue working with them to build out civic engagement opportunities throughout their extraordinary network.

Global Kids

There’s no better way to celebrate Martin Luther King Week than with voter motivation and mobilization workshops, as MLK deeply understood the power of the ballot, as articulated so memorably in his iconic Give Us The Ballot speech, which we opened our workshop with for the fantastic youth of Global Kids.

And there’s no more fun way to learn facts about voting–facts that can help youth understand that the right to vote has always been a fight to vote, and a fight they want to win–than through a good Kahoot. Amazing how excited youth can get about learning fun facts like when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, and how many states introduced voting suppression legislation than when competing in a Kahoot

Fully fired up, some of our YVote peer facilitators introduced Global Kids to YVote–and why vote–and how and why to pre-register their peers:

Of course it doesn’t become real until it’s applied. Before heading out to the mean streets of NYC (and they can indeed be quite mean when you’re trying to get people’s attention…), we engaged in roleplays. It’s more challenging than you might think, as came out in our debrief:

Next up was a critical ingredient in ALL movement building and activism: sign making

And out we went, splitting up to test out our strategies in three places: the subway, the park, and Baruch College. Would you have been able to resist us?

We all learned a lot

It was an exhilarating day! And there will be many, many more to come throughout the spring

Raise the Age Coalition

At YVote, we engage youth in voting by engaging them around the issues they are most passionate about. For many, that’s criminal justice. As such, we are huge proponents of the Raise the Age Coalition. And on Jan 29, we headed to Albany in the wee hours (rewarded by a spectacular sunrise) to advocate for VERY sensible concerns with the State Assembly and State Senate. Thank goodness, in 2017 New York passed Raise The Age law, effectively ending the practice of automatically charging 16- and 17-year-olds as adults (we were one of only two states in the country that did that) but much more is needed to provide even basic human rights. Our asks/demands:

  • It is (past) time to stop arresting and prosecuting children under age 12.
  • It is (past) time to strengthen and expand protections for court involved youth up to age 25.
  • It is (past) time to END adult incarceration of teenagers.
  • And it is (past) time to end solitary confinement for teenagers in adolescent offender facilities.

The day was a rich mix of experience, from meeting with a number of Senators and Assembly Members (and their awesome aides)

to rallying on the Million Dollar Stairs

to getting a personalized tour of the State Senate Chamber, courtesy of Senator Velmanette Montgomery

The day’s events provided a great tie-in to “why vote” and the importance of registering (and pre-registering) and turning out to hold elected officials accountable for enacting this platform. We’re confident these are young people who WILL vote.

Oh and yes, we made some time for photo opps as well.