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Our Issues, Our Voices, Our Votes: Youth Civic Participation Today

Youth Civic Participation: More Than Just Voting

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Historically one of the groups of voters who do not turn out are young people. This holds true across partisan, regional, religious and other differences. Our first discussion examines the reasons why there is low voter turnout and considers other forms of participation. How do Millenials and Gen Z’ers see their civic role in their communities? How are they reimagining and reshaping what it means to be involved and engaged? We take a deep dive to examine youth engagement in public affairs. Join the conversation with Milos Gringlas, Associatem Generation Citizen, Nancy Thomas, Director of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Mia Payne, Peer Facilitator at YVote and Syeeda Rahman, Suffolk University Political Science Student. The conversation will be moderated by Katie Lannan, GBH News State House reporter.

Nancy L. Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. IDHE is an applied research center that studies higher education’s role in American democracy and supports college and university student political learning and participation. The Institute's signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) examines student voting rates, patterns, and conditions. Through NSLVE, nearly 1,200 U.S. colleges and universities receive tailored reports containing their students’ aggregate voting rates following each federal election. Her work and scholarship interests include college student civic learning and participation in democracy, campus climates for political engagement, deliberative democracy, political equity and inclusion, and campus free speech and academic freedom. She holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a law degree from Case Western Research University’s School of Law. She is also an associate editor at the Journal of Public Deliberation, a senior associate with Everyday Democracy, and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.
Milo brings a rich background in youth empowerment and public advocacy to Generation Citizen. A former legislative advocate for the American Cancer Society and Students Against Nicotine, Milo voiced youth concerns at local, state and national levels of government, urging legislators to regulate Big Tobacco’s illicit marketing schemes and enact stronger public health policies. As democratic institutions and values – including access to issue-neutral civics education – have faced unprecedented assault in recent years, Milo championed social justice causes and uplifted the youth voice in democracy in his work for Senator Schumer and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In his role as Associate, Program in New York, he aspires to spread the importance of civic action to the next generation of leaders, hoping they hone that practice in pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive America. Milo is a recent graduate of Cornell University, where he studied history and government. At GC, Milo assists our program managers to expand partnerships throughout New York, connect policymakers with students, and ensure our Action Civics curriculum is implemented smoothly in classrooms. Outside of the office, Milo loves going to museums, talking endlessly about college football and American politics, adventuring with friends, and playing tennis.
A rising senior at Talent Unlimited High School, Mia has been a part of YVote since Summer 2020. Since then, she has participated in the criminal and environmental justice action groups. As a young black girl from the Bronx, she felt that these issues were most prominent in her community and works towards creating solutions through civic engagement. She chose to educate herself on the process of voting and found that fulfilling once’s civic duty isn’t voluntary but necessary towards equitable systemic changes. Through her work on YVote, Mia aims to provide accessible civic education to all communities, particularly targeting demographics with low voter turnouts and have been historically oppressed. “Civics is so complex, it’s more than civil disobedience, politicians, or even voting, it’s about nurturing the minds that will be innovative and effective towards creating change for their communities.”
Syeeda Rahman is a third-year student majoring in political science at Suffolk University. She works as a Community Engagement Coordinator at ASG where she plans and oversees direct community outreach projects. Syeeda is also a Suffolk Votes scholar where she leads Suffolk University's nonpartisan voter registration and civic education program. Syeeda is passionate about creating an equitable society and uplifting people from all backgrounds to use their voice in politics.