By Alissa Black

Engaging Young People in Civic Action | Why We Invested:

The U.S. is weathering a divisive moment. Entrenched partisanship is obstructing compromise and progress in the political arena, while a widening inequality gap is making access to opportunity more challenging for certain groups. Stigmatizing rhetoric from both Democratic and Republican parties has accentuated feelings of fragmentation. According to a recent Gallup poll, 77% of US residents perceive the country as a divided nation. In this critical time, it is imperative that everyone has a voice and can fully participate in civic life. In this regard young people are an often overlooked and underrepresented constituency that must be able to bring their voices into the public square. Millennials and Gen Z represent our most socially tolerant and demographically diverse generations, and they remain an untapped source of civic action and social change. They possess incredible willingness to advocate on behalf of causes that resonate with them, whether fighting hate speech, ending discriminatory suspension policies in their schools, or ensuring immigrants are included as equal members of their communities.

This is why we are proud to be significantly increasing our support for DoSomething.orgDoSomething is the largest member organization for young people to drive social change in the world. The organization connects young people to causes they care about, via over 250 nationwide campaigns of action annually, ranging from bone marrow drives to veteran outreach. With over 5.5 million members aged 13 to 25 and reaching across every U.S. area code, DoSomething has unparalleled reach into Generation Z.

We began supporting DoSomething back in 2011 to supercharge the organization’s digital platform and drive more youth volunteerism, and the organization’s impact has been significant. Compared to their peers, DoSomething members are greater than three times more likely to volunteer at least a few times per week, almost three times more likely to engage with companies to advocate for a social cause, and nearly twice as likely to plan social impact-related activities.

In response to the current political environment, we are excited to provide DoSomething with a $4 million grant to drive a new chapter of growth focused explicitly on providing opportunities for its members to engage in civic-related initiatives.

The DoSomething team has laid out an exciting three-year plan comprised of three primary focuses:

  • Protecting Basic Rights: Many DoSomething members have reported feelings of fear and insecurity based on some aspect of their identity in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. As such, DoSomething plans to launch campaigns explicitly focused on defending the human and civil rights of these groups.
  • Increasing Civic Engagement: DoSomething has an opportunity to build civic engagement and action into the habits of young people which they will then carry throughout their adult lives. To further this aim, DoSomething intends to launch campaigns that encourage members to participate in the political process (e.g., contacting government representatives, attending marches, starting letter-writing campaigns, and registering to vote).
  • Building a Community of Leaders: With such a powerful digital platform for youth engagement, DoSomething has the potential to not only connect young people to important causes but also to each other. The organization plans to build the next generation of the digital platform with space for regular dialogue among diverse groups.

As part of this civic engagement drive, DoSomething is introducing day-long, face-to-face bootcamps to complement its powerful online presence. These bootcamps are geared at exposing young people to prominent local civic leaders and building core problem-solving skills to apply to community issues. Critically, these bootcamps are a recognition of the importance of engaging young people in flexing their civic engagement muscles through both on- and off-line forums. The next bootcamp is October 21st in NYC.

We are excited to continue to support DoSomething as it builds out its programs and ambitious plans for driving youth civic engagement at scale. With robust data at its disposal, expertise in mobilizing youth for action, and an incredibly diverse membership base, DoSomething is building the infrastructure for long-term civic engagement and social change at scale for generations to come