Standing with Young Americans

June 24, 2013

Student debt pushes the American dream further out of our reach. Guns enter our campuses and communities with tragic results. DREAMers seek human rights and are rebuffed by partisan bickering.

The decisions being made in the halls of government have a tremendous impact on our generation, yet we’re too often excluded from the policymaking process. On some of the most important issues of our time, the voice of the Millennial Generation is often ignored.

Not any more, not if Wellstone Action and Campus Progress have anything to say about it.

“Campus Progress runs a field program that engages young people all over the country on issues important to them,” explained Eduardo Garcia, who served as Advocacy Manager at Campus Progress throughout 2012. “We partner with Campus Camp Wellstone to lead trainings because we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There’s already this incredible training program. We’re already helping and supporting these folks. We wanted to join forces with Wellstone to develop and grow our network and its skills to do important work.

Over the last two years, our partnership resulted in multiple trainings for Action Network Members in five states, including El Cambio in North Carolina, Florida Immigrant Youth Network, New York Students Rising, California Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education, and Mississippi Alumni and Students for Sustainability. Over the last year, we’ve trained close to 100 student and youth leaders in the Campus Progress network on the skills it takes to plan, coordinate, and win campaigns. Together, we empowered young Americans to win on big issues through grassroots organizing.

What does this partnership mean for the movement-building work being done by young Americans? Garcia gave one example from a recent Campus Progress and Campus Camp Wellstone training in Florida, “We worked with a grassroots group of young people focused on higher education access for undocumented people. Together, we spent a lot of time thinking about how do we, as young people in Florida, play a critical role to advance a federal issue [immigration reform] and a state issue [a Florida DREAM Act]. The young people in the group collaboratively decided the training agenda; they decided how to make a plan for future actions. It was an example of one specific training, working with one group, and it was really successful.” After the training, Florida Immigrant Youth Network Members, in partnership with their local and national partners, launched a statewide comprehensive immigration reform campaign and received media coverage from numerous news outlets.

Together, Campus Progress, Wellstone Action, and our partners on the ground build an agenda, identify priorities, and run trainings that empower young changemakers. Said Garcia, “The young people who go through Wellstone’s trainings walk away with a stronger skillset and mindset for planning their campaigns in concrete ways. Together, we learn how to build a movement for progressive change.

With so much at stake, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. If the push for progressive change doesn’t come from us, it’s likely not to happen at all. That’s why the partnership between Campus Progress and Wellstone Action’s Campus Camp Wellstone program is so important.

"Wellstone Action's partnership with Campus Progress, an organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of young people, has proven to be an absolutely vital part of our work to give young people the skills and experience they need to promote bold, generational, progressive solutions for their community, state, and country." - Anne Johnson, Campus Progress Executive Director

From fair access to higher education, to safer campuses, and healthier communities, young Americans are poised to be some of the strongest advocates for progressive public policy in the country. And Wellstone Action’s going to stand with them every step of the fight.