Building Young People’s Political Power, from #NationalSchoolWalkout and Beyond

When students were murdered at a Parkland High School, we were heartbroken at more loss of life in our nation’s public schools. Like many of you, we have been inspired by the survivors who have shifted the public conversation away from fruitless thoughts and prayers to civic engagement, voting, and direct action.

Although most of our groups have not historically focused on gun violence, young people in our communities have taken us there in recent weeks. Newly engaged young activists from across the country have been reaching out to ask for help in organizing marches, rallies, walkouts, and of course, voter registration. And our network has answered with an enthusiastic hells yeah!

From Missoula to Miami, Chicago to Denver, Portland to Erie, Providence to Columbus, we have been blow away by the incredible actions across the network. It’s taken us 2 days to uplift all of their work on social media because there has been so dang much. The power of long-term organizing in communities is that even if we’re not known to work on a specific issue, the organizations in our network are trusted peers, partners, and allies when it comes to taking action alongside our nation’s youth.

To help support these activations, we were so lucky to receive rapid response support from a few donors (thank you!), which means $90,000 will be going to 17 organizations over the next week to support rapid response youth organizing between now and the April events.

At the same time, here at the Alliance, we want to be clear about our role in this work. We recognize that very few of our groups work on gun violence prevention. And if they do, it’s usually through the lens of organizing against the school to prison pipeline and uplifting its impact on youth of color. At a minimum, we want to ensure that these newly engaged young people have local, youth-led organizing homes to grow their skills and keep fighting for social justice. Ending up on a national email list is not good enough; this generation deserves so much more. That’s why we’re working to help organizations in our network scale to add additional paid organizing staff and student interns to mobilize these newly engaged activists in the long run.

And we want to make sure that folks are aware of and supporting groups like Community Justice Reform Coalition, an organization that centers black and brown communities at the nexus of gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform (if you haven’t heard of them, please check them out!). CJRC is filling a much-needed gap in the gun violence prevention movement – one where most impacted communities are too often forgotten or ignored. We know that only when groups like CJRC are uplifted will we ever be successful in this fight, and we hope you check them out.

For a closer look at the amazing work that took place around the country, take a look at our social on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Much love and appreciation,

Alliance team