Mobilizing young voters — to mobilize their peers

Courtesy HGSE

3 min read

Making Caring Common — a project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that supports young people’s moral and civic development — has launched a new, nonpartisan voter mobilization and civic education initiative for young voters from across the country. The initiative, called Get Out the Vote, aims to encourage young adults (ages 18–25) to effectively mobilize their peers, as well as to provide them with civic knowledge and organizing skills that they can draw on now and throughout their lives.

The three-week program, with 74 participants from 26 states, runs through August 14, 2020. It will offer trainings in voter registration, voter turnout, and community organizing, as well as public seminars and small-group sessions on topics including the history of voter disenfranchisement, the challenge and promise of civic education, vote suppression, the electoral college, and key issues for Democrats and Republicans in the 2020 election. Participants who complete the program will earn a certificate from Making Caring Common.

“Only 40 percent of college students turned out in the 2018 midterm election — a dramatic jump from the 19 percent student turnout in the 2014 midterm elections, but a disappointing percentage for any healthy democracy,” says Senior Lecturer Richard Weissbourd, faculty director of Making Caring Common, noting that non-college students were even less likely to vote. “Research has found that the most effective strategy for motivating young people to register and to vote is thoughtful prompting from their peers. We hope this initiative will give young adults the tools they need to do that. We have wonderful young people participating in the program from all over the country who understand the importance of strengthening our democracy and civic life.”

Get Out The Vote: A public seminar series

The initiative will host a series of seminars on Zoom and Facebook that are open to the general public. Seminars will feature a range of speakers and leaders grounded in the history of voting rights, representation, and current action to expand access and engagement.

The first two of the public seminars are coming this week:

On July 28, at 5 p.m. Black Voters Matter Fund co-founder Cliff Albright will join members of Making Caring Common’s Youth Advisory Board for a conversation about building community and organizational capacity to foster and amplify Black voting power. Register here.

On July 30 at 5 p.m., HGSE Professor Meira Levinson will join Sean A. Floyd, a nonprofit and public-sector leader who now runs the Washington, D.C., consulting firm Nomadic Solutions, to discuss the civic empowerment gap and how to eliminate it. They’ll discuss insider politics and outsider activism, and why and how youth, people of color, first generation college students, and new Americans can upend traditional power disparities in U.S. politics. Register here.

For more public seminars, check this page.