The League was happy to participate in Voto Latino’s Power Summit in sunny San Jose, CA last week. This summit, the fourth of its kind this year, brought together hundreds of emerging Latino leaders for a day of learning, sharing and honest conversations about the role of young Latinos in the future of civic engagement in America. The conference also allowed participants to earn skill-specific badges in advocacy, communications and other areas, ultimately helping the millennials build their resume power for the future.
In a League-moderated workshop about advocacy and campaign strategies, dozens of young conference participants listened with rapt attention as speakers shared stories of what sparked their interest in a career in advocacy or policy. One reported that political interest was “in his blood,” passed down from civic and labor leaders in his own family. Another reported that her interest in public advocacy and civic leadership grew out of a need she saw in her own California hometown, where too many young people are sitting on the sidelines when it comes to addressing the tough issues facing the community.
When asked how one person, on his or her own, could jumpstart a career in advocacy and civic engagement, the speakers had simple, yet powerful advice to lend: send an email to a leader in your community and ask to get involved. Sign up as a volunteer for a campaign or organization that aligns with your interests. Register voters with a community organization. Take that first step.
The Power Summit was a powerful reminder of why, as a longtime League staff member, I have chosen a career in civic engagement and advocacy for voters of all backgrounds. It was also a timely opportunity to reflect on how important it is for each of us to help engage the next generation of American leaders take that first step, often by simply showing up to vote for the first time. Here at the League, we’re proud to do that through our long-running high school voter registration program and our many fruitful partnerships with youth-oriented organizations, all of which have helped us register and educate millions of diverse American voters in major election years.
At the end of the day, our democracy is better when we all participate. No matter our background, no matter what issue gave us “the spark” to get involved, all of us have important things to say about the future of America. For our communities and for our families, this is the time to weigh in by voting in the thousands of critical elections at the local, state and national levels this November.