Now or Never: The Fight for the Millennial Generation

Released in 2015 in partnership with Quadrant Metrics, LLC, Now or Never is a research report on the youth civic engagement ecosystem in the current political landscape. The report is drawn from quantitative and qualitative data taken from staff and youth at youth organizations, and from funders, civic engagement practitioners, and key strategists in U.S. states. Lead researchers and authors Eli Il Yong Lee and Sandra Wechsler, examine how civic engagement leaders can look to the field of youth organizing for promising new strategies to assist them in increasing voter participation, passing beneficial policies, affecting redistricting in 2021, and changing how the Millennial Generation thinks about values and policies for their lifetimes.The paper highlights four specific impacts of youth organizing towards these ends:

  1. Identify youth-focused strategic initiatives that can drive public discourse, as a way to change the issue environment for elections and policy fights.
  2. Double down on youth organizing groups with a proven track record in executing large-scale voter engagement programs, and identify others with the potential to scale up.
  3. Shape the Millennial Generation through highly visible and emotional “moment to movement” campaigns, primarily using communications and organizing methods.
  4. Formalize a leadership pipeline for 21st century organizers and related professions – a longstanding gap in the sector – and develop methods to track youth alumni.

The paper also offers several recommendations for next steps to create increased alignment among youth organizing groups, civic engagement organizations, and funders who have an interest in supporting both. FCYO Executive Director, Eric Braxton outlined the purpose of Now or Never:

“As we look to the 2016 election and beyond, the future of our democracy may be determined partially by who is able to engage the Millennial Generation. Our hope is that this paper will spur conversations among funders, practitioners, and other stakeholders on how we can best support and connect the leadership of young people. Now, more than ever, we are convinced that the key to building just and equitable communities lies in supporting the leadership of young people.”