The following first-person essay comes from a NextGen staff-member who is a DACA recipient. She decided to share her experiences in recognition of Immigrant Heritage Month, and to lend a voice to the nearly 1.9 million Dreamers who continue to live in the shadows while politicians fail to act.
I stood waiting at my local city college registrar’s office. I was still in high school at the time, but my friends and I planned to take a chemistry class offered by the college over the summer — willing and even eager to trade poolside shenanigans for yet more schooling.
By: Eric Babb and Autumn Frlekin
The NextGen Distributed Texting Team encountered many of the same successes and barriers that others had in 2020. As with any distributed texting program, there is the fundamental issue of matching the number of texts available to send, the number of volunteers taking time out of their day to send them, and the number of volunteer leaders who are trained to run the show. …
By The NextGen Distributed Team — Lillie Catlin, Marlou Taenzer, Sofia Garduno, Shasun Sulur, Lindsey Rayner, Eric Babb, and Autumn Frlekin
In 2020, NextGen America’s Distributed Organizing team of 75 volunteer leaders, over 5,000 volunteers, seven staff, and 13 fellows made 2,161,820 calls and sent 11,405,115 texts to young voters in priority battleground states. We accomplished this voter engagement while also creating and maintaining a positive community experience for our volunteers. …
By Sofia Garduno and Shasun Sulur
Historically, distributed phonebanking programs aren’t considered as scalable as texting programs. However, our NextGen Distributed Organizing team found a way to successfully integrate a calling program into our distributed strategy. Organizing remotely during a pandemic is hard not just for organizing staff, but for volunteers too. Here is what we learned from our calling program that can and should be replicated in future voter contact programs — pandemic or not.
With the help of five paid fellows and 32 volunteer leaders, we executed a program that made over two million voter contact calls in…
By NextGen America
To close out Black History Month 2021 on a high note, NextGen America is recognizing 30 young Black changemakers who are making history right now. These young political figures, community organizers, and activists are helping shape political discourse around the country and transform the way we see the world.
By Laura Flores
In addition to our main organizing and voter contact programs, we wanted to test out new and interesting tactics for the final stretch of the 2020 cycle. Here’s what we learned, and why it matters:
Tactic 1: Online Communities
What is it: NextGen is always looking to meet young voters where they are at. One thing we know for sure is that 18–35-year-olds are very online. Most people are a part of one or multiple online communities, even if they don’t view it that way. An online community could be a university class Facebook page, your neighborhood…
By LaMar Thompson-Hightower
Social media during COVID-19, civil rights protests, and the 2020 election pushed our team to be more compassionate, creative, and strategic than ever before. Our team’s social media program consisted of three priority platforms — Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter — and three additional platforms — TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn. In 2020, we’ve seen significant increases in audience growth and engagement across all platforms; most notably, we grew our Instagram following ~82%.
By Michael Saoma and Ahmad Ali-Ahmad
The new new media: you can run an influencer program (and should)
NextGen recruited 869 influencers in battleground states to encourage their combined following of 63M+ people to vote, and vote for Democrats. The program was built from scratch in-house, the content was unscripted, and the results were weird and beautiful. Here’s how we did it, and why you can too.
The case for influencer programs:
For progressive digital organizers and advertisers this cycle, things were… challenging. …
By Ben Wessel, Executive Director, NextGen America
Every election brings with it questions about young voter turnout: namely, will they or won’t they? Headlines about “lazy” and “apathetic” Gen Z’ers and millennials are par for the course in political commentary.
In 2020, uncertainty over youth turnout was even more rampant than usual. The coronavirus pandemic shut down tried and true methods of voter engagement, like clipboarding for voter registrations on campuses and canvassing in neighborhoods. What’s more, after a historically diverse Democratic primary, we entered the general election with a Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, who had a dismal -22 favorability…
by NextGen America Executive Director, Ben Wessel
Check out this bonkers stat from a precinct at the University of Central Florida in Orlando:
Though we aren’t getting the overall results we want in Florida, this is a bright sign for the enthusiasm of young voters. It seems that every registered voter who lives in the precinct showed up to vote, and then new folks who moved into the precinct changed their address at the polls. NextGen Florida has been instrumental to the work at UCF: We made 1,377 calls and sent 2,258 texts to people who live in this precinct…