Western Colorado Alliance: Youth Voter Initiative

Building rural power through peer to peer youth voter activation and leadership development. 

The Problem

In this transformative time in U.S. democracy, Millennials and Post-Millennials are quickly becoming the largest eligible voting block in the nation. Tragically, they have yet to actualize their voting power and turn out in low numbers, with many of them remaining unregistered to vote.

After the 2016 election underscored the decisive nature of rural areas in our national system and the importance of electoral organizing in “fly-over country,” attention turned to focusing more efforts in those areas. And while students and young people have begun to organize themselves even in our most remote areas of Colorado, and despite good intentions, the funding and resources haven’t made their way into rural areas yet.

The Solution

The Western Slope Youth Voter Initiative is being organized by students at this vital intersection of youth and rural engagement, nurturing youth passion for civic life and building social and community organizing skills through peer to peer experience. As the next generation of leaders and decision-makers, we want all youth to view voting as a right and a responsibility, always, from the moment they are eligible to vote. This Initiative works to train students to register and activate their peers to vote, with a goal of achieving at least 85% graduating class registration.

The Initiative is currently lead and directed by 24 students across 10 high schools with professional support and training from Western Colorado Alliance staff. This program is active today in the three largest Western Colorado counties – Garfield, Mesa and Montrose, with plans to grow to more in the coming years.

Students recruit their own leaders, who are trained and supported by the Western Colorado Alliance to conduct voter registration utilizing three primary opportunities: Conversations in classrooms during school, tabling during school events, and tabling during community events where there is likely to be a large population of young people.

Planned Use Of Funds

Funding awarded to this program will directly support student organizing with professional training resources, tabling and registration materials, community event fees, and the “schwag” (t-shirts, stickers, banners) students need to make registering to vote look good – including powerful youth voices videos now in development.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Western Colorado Alliance – For Community Action brings people together across western Colorado to build grassroots power through community organizing and leadership development.

This project was nominated by: