Across America, over 25% of persons aged 16-24 participated in volunteer activity in their communities. Most of our nation's most prominent political and thought leaders cite volunteer work in their communities as the catalyst for their foray into politics at large.
Yet, at YearlyKos 2007, there were few youths present, and even fewer were aware of opportunities available to the new generation of increasingly aggressive progressives. To address the issue of youth progressive involvement, YearlyKos hosted a panel presentation to inform attending youth about current opportunities to get involved in the political process with support from major progressive and Democratic organizations.
Young People For, a subsidiary organization under People for the American Way, offers young potential progressive leaders and organizers multiple opportunities to get involved, with support and training through their Fellowship Program. Young People For promoted their year-long leadership development program for young leaders, activists and social entrepreneurs who demonstrate a strong commitment to progressive values. Their Fellowship Program, beginning in January 2008 through the end of December 2008 begins with and expense-paid four-day leadership summit to give young progressives the tools they need to be successful not only during their year-long committment, but during their journey toward lifelong progressive leadership.
Students Association for Voter Empowerment is an organization seeking interested students to help their expansion across college campuses and youth communities nationwide to address the major problems of youth voter disenfranchisement. Based in Chicago, this organization is presently seeking to support youth interested in the protection of youth votes through information dissemination, organizing efforts and increased accessibility into the electoral process by youth voters.
For those students who are looking for internships the New America Foundation has excellent opportunities. Interns will have an opportunity to network, gain essential experience with progressive leadership, and help advance some of the most important issues in progressive politics today.
For the politically motivated and social youths, there exists an opportunity to advance progressive ideas in your own social sphere. Drinking Liberally is an informal, inclusive progressive social group that aims to promote democracy, one pint at a time. As college students, you're bound to find yourself at a bar, lounge or pub sooner or later. So, why not promote democracy in the process?
Local progressive groups interested in reaching out to the youths of your community will find great value in the Young Voter Strategy Guides published through the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Young Voter Strategies is a non-partisan research and organizaing effort that has recently teamed up with Rock the Vote to promote voter education, fuel youth voter registrations, and support local, statewide, and national youth voter outreach efforts.
If you're a youth interested in getting more involved in your community, though you're not sure about taking on a leadership role in an organization, there are many easy ways to effect change in your own community. You can request voter registration forms from your local elections registrar and deliver them to your fellow students, leave registration forms at local youth centers, or provide forms at club meetings.