Educate Voters & Candidates About the Issues You Care About, Youth Service America
Posted by Youth Service America on July 12, 2022
YSA’s ServiceVote campaign asks young people to help register, educate, and get their peers out to vote; to connect their volunteering and service to voting and advocacy on the issues they care about; and to call on public officials to create spaces at every decision-making table for young voices.
Election season provides a unique opportunity for young people to organize awareness and advocacy projects to educate voters and political candidates about the issues they care about. Here are 5 strategies to use:
1. Organize a Community Dialogue About an Issue – A “dialogue” is a community conversation that can take many forms. It can involve 5 people around a table, 500 people in a large civic setting, or anything in between.
- A Guide for Training Public Dialogue Facilitators
- Organizing Study Circles with Young People
- National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
- Community Toolbox Step-by-Step Guide
2. Develop a Policy Proposal & Advocacy Campaign – Long-term change in communities often requires a change in policy that address the root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve. Before you advocate for a policy change, you need to develop a proposal for the policy you want to see created.
- Sections 4 and 5 of Pathways to Policy: A Step-by-Step Playbook for Young People Who Want to Change the World.
- The Center for Civic Education’s Project Citizen
- YMCA Youth and Government Program
- Student Activism in School: Getting Your Voice Heard Guide
3. Create Media and Become a Citizen or Student Journalist – Use the power of the media to share your perspectives on the issues you care about, and what you want policymakers to do to help. Write letters to the editor, post blogs, create videos, share on social media, and spread your message!
- Youth Media-Making Toolkit for Educators
- Rock Your World
- PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs
- American Press Institute
- Global Action Project’s Media in Action Curriculum
- Generation Citizen’s Write An Op-Ed lesson plan
4. Connect with Local Public Officials By engaging policymakers in a service project or a visit to your program site, you begin to build a relationship with them and can include a discussion around the issues related to the service project. Service events are a great opportunity for you to educate policymakers about the issues that matter to you.
- YSA’s Engaging Public Officials Toolkit has tips and templates for you to contact your officials.
- Voices for National Service Tips for Hosting a Successful Site Visit. Afterschool Alliance five simple steps to set up a site visit and three case studies.
- Call, e-mail, or write to your elected officials. Find all your elected officials’ contact information via the League of Women Voters or Common Cause.
- Meet with your elected officials. Attend (or organize) a day at your state capitol or city hall. You can also request a meeting with any elected official any time. Remember, they’re there to serve you! Just make sure to request meetings at least a few weeks in advance. There are many local government meetings (like city council or school board meetings) that are open to the public and include time for public comments. You can find this information via their website, local newspaper, or public access channel.
5. Volunteer with a Local Campaign – Working with a campaign is a great way to make sure your voice is heard while getting a first-hand look at the political process. Find out how to volunteer with a campaign through:
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