18by Vote’s Civic Leadership Program supports 15 youths in becoming Civic Leaders
Early in 2022, 18by Vote called on young people from 6 states where youth voters had the possibility to influence the outcomes of the 2022 midterm elections. Hailing from Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, 15 young people joined 18by Vote’s 2022 Civic Leadership Program to activate voters and become youth leaders in their communities.
The 2022 Civic Leadership Program was a 20-week leadership training program created to support young people in their relational voter registration and education efforts which targeted their fellow youth voters. The program brought together young people of various ages, backgrounds, and organizing experiences.
“While other organizations bring volunteers to locations with low civic engagement specifically during elections which impedes the development of continued civic opportunity and community, the 18by Vote civic leadership program focused on empowering local youth in becoming catalysts for increased civic engagement among their peers ahead of the midterm election. This program made the unique and necessary commitment to invest in youth who live in and love their local communities,” said Ava Mateo, 18by Vote’s Executive Director.
Using data from the CIRCLE Center at Tufts University that identified the states where young people had the highest chance of influencing election outcomes, the organization chose 6 states to focus its voter activation efforts and empower local youth to become community leaders. To increase the equity of nationally offered youth civic engagement opportunities, 18by Vote provided leadership training, resources and payment to youth to aid their relational voter outreach efforts.
After a month of rigorous education on civic engagement and organizing, 18by Vote’s youth Civic Leaders went into their communities to conduct a combination of digital, peer-to-peer and on-the-ground relational organizing tactics.
“At the beginning of the program, I did not really know how to fully plan an event… because I never really had the resources to do so,” said Aleesha Bhatti, Georgia Civic Leader. “With 18by Vote, I was able to start from the very beginning to structure an event geared towards my community, for my community, and I think that was the most powerful skill I learned.”
The 18by Vote Civic Leaders connected with potential voters, educated their communities and registered young people to vote. From hosting community education events and tabling at farmers’ markets to knocking on doors and text banking, Civic Leaders had the opportunity to host events that activated voters through their own creative freedom.
Through the 18by Vote Civic Leadership program, Arizona Civic Leader, Camille Jones, learned that “Activism and civic leadership has no boundaries and you are able to cultivate change through many different ways.”
Jones exemplified this by taking on unique approaches to her community outreach, such as targeting youth by canvassing on move-in day on campus and utilizing new methods like sticker bombing.
In addition to allowing each Civic Leader to use their own specialized knowledge to inform their approach to outreach, 18by Vote empowered program participants to train and hire Civic Organizers: peers who would aid in their outreach efforts on the ground. This opportunity allowed our Leaders to put their titles into practice as they built their own teams and provided additional organizing opportunities for young people in their communities.
The Civic Leaders made a direct impact on their local communities and also on the organization. It was because of the conversations held between 18by Vote staff and Civic Leaders that 18by Vote created the Self-Care Hour Series — a public workshop series to encourage the practice of rest and relaxation for all youth organizers — and the Restorative Justice Committee — an in-house committee to create a new policy to ensure the respect of all in the organization.
“The Civic Leaders were so curious and creative. They encouraged us to reimagine how we connect to people inside and outside of our organization,” said Xol Aceytuno, Director of Youth and Community Engagement. “An understanding that came out of the Restorative Justice Committee was that we in the organization believe fully in the RJ value ‘Nothing about us, without us’. With this understanding alone, we can ensure our organization is truly led by youth.”
Thanks to the work of the 15 Civic Leaders, 18by Vote’s Civic Leadership Program touched over twenty-thousand people. This program was the first of its kind for 18by Vote and it demonstrated the possibility of youth power by contributing to historic youth voter turnout and engagement The organization’s staff has said that the inaugural program and its participants “have a special place in our hearts.”
The 2022 Civic Leaders are currently being featured on 18by Vote’s Youth Movement Media Youth Amplify Series. To read the first Youth Amplify Feature, please visit https://medium.com/@18byvote/aleesha-bhatti-18by-vote-civic-leader-e753eb19f1c3
Follow our medium page to further read about our 2022 Civic Leaders.