In 2005, three organizations — Young People For, The League of Young Voters Education Fund, and The Movement Strategy Center — came together to address the lack of cross-sector collaboration and coordination within the youth civic engagement field. Out of a shared analysis of the problem, came a vision for a solution: the Generational Alliance, a collaboration of national youth organizations building collective power for underrepresented & low-income communities.
The youth civic engagement field is currently fractured among at least four distinct sectors:
- community-based youth organizing
- campus organizing and leadership development
- non-campus voter organizing
- cultural/media organizing and advocacy
Because these sectors developed — and were funded — in isolation from one another without adequate opportunities for interaction or collaboration, young people are not being optimally served and their interest in civic engagement not properly expressed.
A true sea change in the role and profile of young people in American civic life is possible only if these sectors are empowered to provide more comprehensive support and networking opportunities to young people of different ages, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds and educational experiences, who choose to play active roles in civic and political life.
Young leaders must feel supported across these sectors and know how to navigate between the organizations working collectively to support their development as activists and leaders. To achieve this type of sustained, strategic coordination, we must build strong relationships between organizations and across sectors.
The Generational Alliance creates spaces and brings together youth organizations to build collaborative and strategic working relationships. GA members have collaborated on a range of projects including twice-annual national convenings, regional conferences, curriculum development, membership trainings, fellowship recruitment and selection, a national youth voter engagement initiative, online initiatives, and a national youth issues platform and policy agenda. We view these innovative projects and partnerships as essential building blocks for the development of our organizations, fields and movements.
The GA continues to strengthen the youth civic engagement field by building the capacity of member organizations and coordinating their leadership development, electoral, issue and cultural organizing:
- Coordination/Collaboration: Through asset mapping, coordinated planning, information sharing, and division of labor, we are: 1) identifying and coordinating existing member programming; 2) developing strategic new collaborative efforts to accomplish our organizational, field and movement goals; and 3) avoiding duplication of efforts.
- Capacity Building: Through training, the consolidation and sharing of best practices, technical assistance provision and collaborative project development, we are building the capacities of our organizations, campaigns, fields and movements.
- Bridge-Building: We are building an ethic of collaboration among and building sustainable bridges between participating members and strategic partners, across sectors and issues.
- Issue Advocacy: We are placing a national spotlight on issues and influencing policy related to the priority concerns of our target constituencies.
- Vision Promotion: We are promoting a shared progressive vision and values by documenting and broadly disseminating our movement building experiences and lessons learned working together across issues and sectors.
- Joint Infrastructure Development: We are building a national communications and coordination infrastructure and promoting our issues/values platform to serve as the foundation for ongoing collaborative field and movement building initiatives.
- Resource Development/Funder Advocacy: We are making a strong case for the effectiveness of our unique strategies and demographic focus and increasing long-term financial investments in our organizations and fields.