Giving Compass' Take:

• Eric Braxton, writing for PhilanTopic, proposes that funders should start investing in youth leaders and organizers now instead of waiting until 2020 to spur more civic engagement from young people making a difference. 

• How can donors invest in local youth organizers? Where are the spaces for youth activists and donors to connect? 

• Read more about the importance of investing in youth leadership. 

For anyone interested in increasing youth civic engagement, the midterm elections are a cause for celebration. In the election, 31 percent of youth (ages 18-29) voted — according to at least one source, the highest level of participation among youth in the past quarter-century.

Traditionally, support for youth civic engagement declines at the end of an election cycle and resumes as the next cycle starts to heat up — along with thought pieces about why young people don’t vote. To break this pattern, I offer a suggestion: increase investment in youth organizing groups now; don't wait until 2020.

Instead, we should support organizations led by young people of color that are engaged in year-round organizing around both voter engagement campaigns and efforts to address issues in their local communities. Issue campaigns focused on quality schools, immigrants' rights, ending mass incarceration, and preserving reproductive rights are what motivate young people to become engaged in the world around them and, by extension, the electoral process.

From where I sit, there are three reasons to double down on investments in youth organizing groups:

  • Youth organizers are good at engaging voters of all ages.
  • Engaging the pre-electorate now increases civic participation in the future.
  • Youth organizers play a vital role in connecting issues and voting.

Unfortunately, funding for this work has been sporadic, often showing up — in insufficient amounts — just before elections and then disappearing as soon as the last vote has been counted. To build a just and inclusive society, we must make a significant, long-term investment in the leadership of young people of color willing to organize around issues and engage voters, both young and old.

Read the full article about invest in youth leaders by Eric Braxton at PhilanTopic.