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We’re investing in the future of democracy by developing the next generation of engaged and constructive citizens.

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Building a student movement to strengthen our democracy and facilitating constructive engagement on college campuses.

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Leadership Institute

Mobilizing the energy of young people into tangible impact beyond the college campus.

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Our Chapters

“Our Chapters are at the core of grassroots strategy to build a program that equips students with the knowledge and ability to improve the political culture in their communities. Click on each icon to learn more about a chapter!”

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“We champion viewpoint diversity, promote a solution-oriented political culture, and teach constructive engagement in order to develop a generation of political leaders that value empathy and common purpose”

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Our movement empowers young people from across the political spectrum to fight for a less polarized democracy that works for everyone.

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Let’s Reflect

By Chloé Johnston November 7, 2020: Joe Biden is declared the President-Elect of the United States. Since my last reflection in June, not much has changed in our country, or it doesn’t feel that way at least. Significant change seems to make its impact through the throws of time, we feel the historic moment of Kamala Harris being brought into office as the first female Vice-President of color. Her battle was fought over the course of years not year, singular. So, it’s impact in some ways feels more profound. The pandemic, still tenacious as ever in the U.S., feels like this wonderful little mask, obscuring our view of the change with the continuation of self-isolation and strict safety/sanitary protocols. It’s made it increasingly more difficult to see what’s really going on. For example, collectively I think everyone felt change during the George Fllyod and Breonna Taylor protests. Even I thought to myself, “This time it’s different.” But after everything tapered off over the course of the summer, as cases were closed and protests lessened, on the surface, there seemed to be less of a visible impact. Let’s dive a little deeper though. Prior to my post in June, the country felt like it was simmering. Like it was on the verge of boiling over, just waiting for the slightest increase in temperature to make its move. I could feel this unabating pressure of movement, a stirring that was becoming less restrained as the days passed and the election drew nearer. Finally, I realized: People are restless. People are tired. And, people are doing something about it. Source: The Washington Post, 2020 turnout is the highest in over a century According to Bloomberg, at least 161 million Americans came out to vote in the 2020 election which is the largest number of voters in the history of U.S. presidential elections. Though it’s not the highest voter turnout, it is the largest turnout since Republican William McKinley won reelection with 73.7% turnout in 1900. By October 30th, USAToday reported that some 6.2 million first-time voters had raised their voices in the polls and, of those 6.2 million, 2.6 million were first-time voters over the age of 40. This is a significant increase from 4.4 million new voters–with 2.1 million over the age of 40–that voted in 2016. Many of these new voters, besides those that reached the age of 18, were newly naturalized citizens, people that now had accessibility to voting with the mail-in ballots, or those with expunged criminal records. One such voter was rapper Snoop Dogg. In an interview with Big Boy’s Neighborhood on Real 92.3, Snoop revealed that, “I ain’t never voted a day in my life, but this year I think I’m going to get out and vote because I can’t stand to see this punk in office one more year.” He further stated that, “For many years they had me brainwashed thinking that you couldn’t vote because you had a criminal record.” He closed with, “I didn’t know that. My record’s been expunged so now I can vote.” My purpose in disclosing Snoop’s experience is not to pick sides but to illustrate the power this election season, and the events prior, have generated. Not everyone falls into the three categories I listed, some people have just simply never voted but somehow they decided that this, this was the year they were going to vote. As a first-time voter myself, I know how confusing the registration process is, especially if you’re not super well versed in the process, to begin with. Even though I’ve never voted, I’ve been somewhat politically active for the better part of three years but imagine how daunting a task this would be for someone who hasn’t? How amazing is it then, to look at the numbers and go wow. That many people took ownership of this country and used their voices to vote for whatever side they felt was best. That in itself is astounding. Whether or not you find favor with the current president-elect is a non-issue here because I think we can all agree that we are witnessing history in the making. Even on a smaller scale, the Burst Your Bubble event that was jointly held between BridgeUSA and A Starting Point this past Tuesday was the largest event we’ve ever held. An hour and a half before the event began we had 667 college students from around the U.S. registered for this event. Though we didn’t hit full capacity, at our peak we had almost a 50% turnout rate with 323 people in attendance. As a moderator, I had pleasure of listening to a number of students steeling themselves to remain politically active even after this election. Between these conversations and researching to write this post, I had an astounding realization that everybody is beginning to take ownership, no matter their age, race, or ethnicity. It’s November now, and it feels like an insane amount of time has passed, yet it’s only been a year. A single blip on the timeline. Something so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. So, after a tumultuous election season, I’m going to be taking a moment to appreciate what’s taken place. I recently asked a friend to take a 5-minute breather after the chaos subsided and, now, I want to ask you to do the same. Just take 5-minutes to take a breath, let this historic moment sink in, and get back to it. The work is never done, this is just the beginning. .ugb-fbfdd9b.ugb-feature{background-color:rgba(151,151,151,0.5)}.ugb-fbfdd9b.ugb-feature:before{background-color:#979797}@media screen and (min-width:768px){.ugb-fbfdd9b .ugb-feature__item{grid-template-columns:1.42fr 0.58fr !important}.ugb-fbfdd9b .ugb-img{width:329px;height:auto !important}}About the AuthorChloé Johnston is the Counterweight Editor and Graphic Designer for the BridgeUSA National Team. She more recently graduated from Oregon State University with her Honors Bachelor of Science in Psychology. In her free time, she freelances and writes for her blog, The Extroverted Introvert.

The Power We Hold Outside of Voting

The Power We Hold Outside of Voting

By Jessica Carpenter We have seen them more often now leading up to November 3rd. Billboard signs, social media posts, celebrity endorsements, commercials all pointing to one similar message: Vote. I cannot tell you how many captions I’ve had to come up with detailing the importance of making your voice heard.  “Vote because it is essential.”  “Vote because you can make a difference.”  “Vote because it is your civic duty as an American.”  Even though all of these statements are true, for me, the message seemed to lose its weight after the hundredth post. Outside of this single worded call to action, I found questions that carried far more weight.  Such as, will my vote matter? Will my friends still speak to me if we do not vote the same? What if I don’t like my voting choices? What if I don’t like the solutions candidates are offering? After a few thought spirals and a bit of research, I found myself mailing off my ballot.  Days later, while scrolling through Twitter, I saw a news article discussing a series of new proposals to help the Black community in the United States. Following the reignition of the Black Lives Matter movement in May, the only solutions I had heard were between defunding and defending the police. This article was not a content analysis of the proposals, just a description of how the creator, rapper Ice Cube, had faced backlash for his association with President Trump.  Tempted by the offer of new solutions to aid in facing systemic racism in America, I decided to read the thirteen proposals making up the Contract for Black Americans. The contract, I thought, made a lot of sense. It discussed new standards for policing and police funding. It introduced investments in lower-income families, Black youth, and Black-owned businesses. It addressed the mass incarceration numbers that disproportionately affected Black men. To my surprise, I discovered that the contract was reviewed by both presidential candidates, who, in turn, agreed to move forward with Ice Cube, developing plans in close association with the contract. I left the article with two thoughts: one, that it was well thought out. And two, Ice Cube isn’t a politician, but he is offering a solution. While we aren’t on the same playing field, Ice Cube–being a renowned rapper–and me–being an introverted college student–the plan he and so many others put together caught political leaders’ attention and could very well find itself implemented.  This spurred the thought that we, as regular civilians, might have more power in politics than we think. As if that needed any more relevant explanation, look at the Black Lives Matter movement’s overall impact this year. In the months following George Floyd’s death and the initial eruption of protests, officials have offered different means to accommodate the voices found within the chaos. Imagine if we could create tangible solutions that produced actual change instead of a hodgepodge of statements formed out of anger and fear—applying it further to issues like climate change and gun rights. The Contract for Black Americans was created by the people affected by the lack of resolutions to the issues targeted within said proposals. Instead of fiery words, this group of people came forward with a list of initiatives and objectifiable numbers. Hundreds of voices across the country absorbed it. Learning this, I finally understood the statement “the pen is mightier than the sword.”   Lawmakers don’t have to worry about making the masses happy when it’s the masses who are proposing the solutions. We can do all the protesting, all the Twitter posts, and all the finger-pointing and complaining we want. We can do all the voting we want and hope one candidate’s solutions are closest to our ideal, but I think there is actual power in crafting an answer yourself.  We forget that we, as Americans, have this power. This post is not to say, don’t vote. Go vote. Make your voice heard. It is your civic duty as an American. But know that there are things you can do outside of just voting. Let that motivate you enough to see what else can be solved by some creative thinking and initiative.  .ugb-bc4af77.ugb-feature{background-color:rgba(151,151,151,0.5)}.ugb-bc4af77.ugb-feature:before{background-color:#979797}@media screen and (min-width:768px){.ugb-bc4af77 .ugb-feature__item{grid-template-columns:1.34fr 0.66fr !important}.ugb-bc4af77 .ugb-img{width:500px;height:auto !important}}About the Author I am an undergrad student at Arizona State University studying journalism, business, and political science. I have worked on PR strategy, event planning, graphic design, and building media connections at the Bridge Arizona State chapter.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Jesse BarbaSenior Director of External Affairs, Young Invincibles By Chloé Johnston With entire sectors of the economy dissipating and our daily lives brought to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, young adults are struggling, even more so, to find a job or pursue/maintain their education. As a result, many young people are finding employment in under-paid or high-risk frontline positions. To Jesse Barba, Senior Director of External Affairs at Young Invincibles, “These employment outcomes disproportionately impact marginalized populations, exacerbating pre-existing inequalities in our economy and painting a bleak picture for the future of young adult involvement in the workforce.” As the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected young adults in the workforce–highlighting the disproportionate impact and exacerbation of inequalities on marginalized populations–the only question left is, where do we go from here? With that question in mind, Barba offers this, “Political divisiveness has persistently stymied young people from benefitting from a well-functioning government, and it’s long past due to extend the table of democracy to include young people and their voice: the Generation Roundtable is the starting point.” As a far less partisan group, compared to previous generations, young people are the future. The Generation Roundtable–with its intended focus–makes a bipartisan approach to policymaking as the most effective and sensible path forward possible. For young people that have only known political stalemate and division, Barba sees “the goal of a solutions-oriented approach to policymaking and politics as an alluring one.” Democracy reforms are critically needed to restore the full faith in our historic experiment of this Republic because every institution relies on trust to be effective. Looking towards our nation’s future and its current state, we should not misconstrue compromise to mean weak. To Barba, “Compromise and unity are how you drive the path forward on the most pressing issues of our time.” And considering our current state, there is no time it is more needed than now. For more information about the Generation Roundtable, and it’s Steering Committee members, read our previous blog about “A Vision for Better Politics.” .ugb-1264965.ugb-feature{background-color:rgba(151,151,151,0.5)}.ugb-1264965.ugb-feature:before{background-color:#979797}@media screen and (min-width:768px){.ugb-1264965 .ugb-feature__item{grid-template-columns:1.50fr 0.50fr !important}.ugb-1264965 .ugb-img{width:756px;height:auto !important}}About the AuthorChloé Johnston is the Counterweight Editor and Graphic Designer for the BridgeUSA National Team. She more recently graduated from Oregon State University with her Honors Bachelor of Science in Psychology. In her free time, she freelances and writes for her blog, The Extroverted Introvert.