Empowering Our Youth to Strengthen Our Democracy
2023 No. 5
Some key changes have been noted in how young people feel about the political process and about voting and they are not good.

John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard University Kennedy School Institute for Politics, is sounding the alarm about youth voting. The record-high levels of youth turnout in recent elections were preceded by a positive shift in youth attitudes about the efficacy of politics. Now, Della Volpe’s polling is showing a sharp drop in support for political engagement and perceptions of efficacy. While youth continue to become ever more progressive on issues, today’s young people are less likely than earlier cohorts to affiliate with a party, say they are likely to vote, pay close attention to political news, or believe that politics provides a meaningful way to bring about change in the system. 
Students for Justice exists for two purposes – to get out the vote in communities of color in important elections and to TEACH YOUNG PEOPLE THE VALUE OF VOTING AND POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT. Our curriculum actively counteracts the tendency of young people to think that voting doesn’t matter while caring passionately about issues. Through regular workshops, guest lectures, and the example of our GOTV work, we demonstrate how small margins in voter turnout swing elections and bring about consequential legislation as a result.
Furthermore, each week our interns craft TikToks to persuade other young people of the power of political engagement. Our interns’ social media outreach to other 18-24-year-olds is guided by our own research on the attitudinal barriers to voting among young people. Our interns use their TikToks to counter false beliefs among youth such as “my vote doesn’t matter,” “it is too hard to get enough information to know how to vote,” and “elections don’t make a difference.” In developing that messaging, the interns become skilled at persuading their peers to vote – and, in the process, they become persuaded themselves of the necessity of voting.
In addition, our end-of-session polling of our interns indicates that Students for Justice has a positive impact on our interns and their families and communities. 

Because of their involvement with Students for Justice as interns: 

33% changed long-term goals 
98% plan to be politically active in the future 
85% are more likely to work to get out the vote/to influence legislation in the future 
33% had family/friends get involved in politics for the first time 
56% had someone vote that otherwise would not have 
Students for Justice is more important than ever, both for the interns who go through the program and also for the ripple effect those interns have on their friends and families. Enabling young people to see the link between issues and voting is the tonic that our democracy needs!!

With hope for our democracy,
Claire Ullman & Sandra Radoff
Help us find opportunities for our former interns!
We work hard to make Students for Justice a career stepping stone for our interns. One of the ways we do this is by sharing job and internship opportunities with our program alumni. If you know of an opportunity for current college students or recent graduates, in any field, please email us to let us know about it so we can share it with our intern community. You might even consider having one of our former interns work for you this summer!
Want to make a difference?
The ongoing success of the internship program has been made possible largely by the Zoom house parties we've been organizing (more than 50 since Spring 2021!) Thank you to our AMAZING house party hosts for pulling their friends, co-workers, neighbors, and families together to educate people about the program and how they can engage in its on-going growth and success. To learn more about hosting or co-hosting a virtual party, please email Deb Wachspress, Development Director, at deb@studentsforjusticevote.org.

Help us reach more people! Please forward this newsletter to everyone you know who might want to help young people save our democracy.
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