OUR Goal Is To:
Promote and support youth-led campaigns in America and around the world that seek impactful solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
Produce multimedia resources that build organizing and leadership skills in order to train young people to be influential change agents.
Create a pipeline for lifelong local and global civic leadership guided by mentorship and sustained involvement from previous participants.
The Youth Activism Project believes young people are the experts of their generation. Ideas and grievances must be seen and heard, respected and debated. Effective strategies and connections to other change agents, allies, and advocacy organizations increase the odds that young activists will be taken seriously. In the US, we share and promote youth-driven campaigns on dozens of issues that prove minors can make a major impact. Here are a few examples.
Voices of Youth in Chicago Education has persisted and prevailed in ending zero-tolerance discipline policies and advocating for restorative justice. These activists pressured the Mayor and School Board to change the Student Code of Conduct to stop suspensions for minor infractions. They have lobbied state lawmakers and gotten two major bills passed that track which school districts are disproportionately disciplining students of color or students with disabilities.
Lower the Voting Age
Young people who identify issues and remedies are ignored and dismissed because they lack voting clout. #Vote16 campaigns are happening in cities and states across the country. Expanded voting rights for local school boards passed in Berkeley, CA. A similar proposal in San Francisco to allow 16-year-olds to vote in municipal and school board elections lost by a narrow margin.
Nearly two dozen youths between the ages of 9-21 have sued the US government, claiming their constitutional right to a healthy environment has been violated because essential resources for the public good have not been preserved. Some of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit have been activists for more than a decade, including Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, now 17. To learn more, visit Our Children Trust.
around the world
Our global campaigns connect young people in America and young people abroad to organize across borders for sustained, collective action on shared issues both locally and globally. Organizing across borders allows young people to not only better understand the causes they care about, but also to better understand their peers from other cultures. In our increasingly globalized world, where the line between local and global issues becomes more blurred, it is critical to invest in a globally-minded generation of youth activists.
School Girls Unite
Since 2004, hundreds of girls from the state of Maryland together with girls in Mali have championed Education For All. Fundraisers, concerts, and film screenings in the US have generated enough money to provide over 600 years of education to 75 girls in Mali. Our sister organization in Mali raises gender inequity issues it knows firsthand from our scholarship program, by meeting with the Ministry of Education and doing radio interviews. At least once a year, middle and high school students meet with Members of Congress and their legislative staff to advocate that education be a top US foreign priority. Learn more here.
US-India Pilot Project
Inspired by the success of School Girls Unite, we are launching a new partnership between students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (just outside Washington, DC) and Prerna Girls School (Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh). Both schools have a rich tradition of youth-led activism and we are excited to see what impact their activism exchange will yield.