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About the League

The League of Young Voters empowers young people nationwide to participate in the democratic process and create progressive political change on the local, state and national level – with a focus on non-college youth and youth from low-income communities and communities of color.  The League makes political engagement relevant by meeting young people where they are, working on issues that affect their lives, and providing them with tools, training, and support to become serious catalysts for change in their communities. Founded in 2003, the League has become one of the strongest youth organizations in the country fighting for progressive change.

Our long term strategy is to build an inspired, engaged and effective culture and community around youth participation. We're building permanent progressive youth-driven field and issue based campaigns that will build power to significantly impact local, state, and federal policy and elections nationwide. We expect it will take decades to achieve this scale, but we're in it for the long haul.

 

So what do we do?

No, we don't just register voters.

Here's the five-bullet-point version of what we do:

  1. Engage young people who have been shut out of the political process.

  2. Train them to be sophisticated organizers in their own communities.

  3. Build multi-racial, multi-issue alliances.

  4. Lobby at the local, state, and national level.

  5. Organize voters to hold elected officials accountable once they're in office.

 

Our integrated youth civic engagement model combines best practices from community, campus and cultural organizing with sophisticated voter engagement techniques. During election cycles, we run targeted data-driven, precinct-based voter contact and turnout programs. The rest of the year we organize our constituents around issues that make sense to young people. By focusing on relevant local issues like inner city violence, the rising cost of college tuition and improving public transportation we are engaging and mobilizing new and drop off voters who would otherwise not be active in off election years.

We believe that our permanent campaign approach (year round, long-term, locally-driven) is key to building the trust, skills, and power necessary to not only increase young voter turnout in the short term, but to leverage long-term change and form a generation of engaged and active young leaders.

In just three years, local Leagues have become "household names" in their communities. They are respected as serious players on the political scene who are able to move large numbers of young people (especially low-income youth and people of color), organize diverse coalitions, swing elections, attract media attention, and both lobby for and pass legislation. The League is known for meeting young people where they are, with creativity and edgy humor as well as effectiveness at pushing issues and supporting allies' campaigns.

What makes the League unique?

  • We are community-based: We are the only major young voter group that focuses on non-college youth, especially people of color and youth from low-income communities (only about one third of young people between the ages of 18-24 are enrolled in college full-time). It takes long-term commitment to build leaders and civic infrastructure in historically under-represented communities.

  • We don’t disappear after elections: We don't just register voters or get out the vote right before elections. Young people trust and believe in us because we make real changes in their communities and we don’t just show up every four years. Even when it isn’t election season, we are mobilizing young people around issues they choose as most relevant to their lives, such as violence prevention, student debt, etc.

  • We break silos: We’re not a single-issue organization. We bring young people together across race, class, culture, issues and ideology to build trusting relationships. These relationships form the basis for the progressive governing majority we are working to build.

  • We’re multi-pronged: We are the most legally sophisticated youth group that has ever existed on any side of the political spectrum. While we are a 501(c)4 organization, we also have a connected 501(c)3 non-profit that does non-partisan education, voter engagement and election protection work. Additionally, we have a Federal PAC as well as State PACs through which we can endorse candidates and impact races up and down the ballot.

  • We build on existing social networks: From hip-hop to Facebook to barber shops, we tap local “influencers” from existing social and cultural networks to engage spheres of unlikely voters. We help create cohorts of young people who not only vote, they also “get the bug” to organize their peers.

  • We keep it fun: Young people don’t do boring. Neither does the League.

What else?

In moving toward our long term vision to build a national movement infrastructure, we are also experimenting with network-based national programs and initiatives:

  • Our best known national pilot is our online voter guide tool TheBallot.org which has featured more than 270 voter guides and voter slates in 33 states. Local groups make their own voter guides online via this innovative tool that is changing the way politics is done.

  • We have an in-house leadership training program which includes a menu of introductory trainings, an in-depth five day electoral and issue based bootcamp called the Tunnel Builder Institute; a 10 week experiential training course; and site-based apprenticeship placements –a developing part of our leadership pipeline.

  • We have also experimented with a variety of creative national initiatives such as: a major national conference called “Smackdown,” and a smorgasbord of other innovative local and national projects.

Join with us!

Joining our email list is the best way to start getting involved with the League. Also, if there's a League chapter in your area, check the Events section on the right for upcoming events.

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Voter Guides: theballot.org
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