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Building Tomorrow: The Need For Sustained Investment In America’s Progressive Youth

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Where We Are Now

Young people often stand on the frontlines of social and progressive change, their ideas and commitment to social justice critical in advancing a progressive vision for the future. And yet, despite young people’s investment in progressive change, the progressive movement often fails to invest in young people in the same meaningful and sustained manner. For far too long, progressive youth organizations have worked to elevate and center the voices of young people while lacking the funds to efficiently and fully transform young people’s progressive values into long-term progressive change.

In the months since Donald Trump’s presidency went from reality T.V. to reality, almost 100 new, volunteer-led organizations have formed. These organizations are largely run and supported by young people new to political activism with few to no resources, but have almost single-handedly opened the floodgates for a new base of engaged and enraged progressive activists. Take the Women’s March: founded organically and directly in response to Trump’s anti-women posturing throughout the campaign trail, the collective protests were the largest demonstration in American history. And in the chaotic weeks following Trump’s inauguration, congressional offices reported getting record numbers of calls and letters from constituents incensed by the new administration—calls and letters galvanized by this new wave of young progressive groups.

This is a moment. A moment where, if the progressive movement so chooses, it can drastically enlarge its base and, simultaneously, its opportunity to create a more progressive future. But unless the progressive movement chooses to invest in the long-term strategic infrastructure needed to sustain and organize this burst of young, progressive energy, the window will pass.

Now more than ever, the progressive movement needs to invest in young people.

This report offers a path forward. Pulling from original interviews conducted with youth organizations as well as their publicly available financial data, we outline first the challenges that progressive youth organizations face and then the opportunities the progressive movement stands to gain should it choose to meaningfully engage with young people. By assessing the current landscape, both quantitatively and qualitatively, we hope to present a vision for a progressive, inclusive way forward.

Read the full report for our complete analysis and conclusions.

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