By Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, NextGen America President

As the country’s largest youth-voter mobilization organization, NextGen America has spent the last several years engaging and mobilizing millions of young people to join — and save — our democracy.

Despite the unprecedented challenges of the 2020 election, young Americans showed their power by turning out like never before — leading to historic victories across the country that wouldn’t have been possible if not for the largest and most diverse generation in American history.

Now it’s time to go even bigger to empower young people to make lasting, progressive change in America.

Today, I am so excited to announce that NextGen America is launching the largest youth voter-mobilization program in the country for the 2022 election cycle to continue our momentum and start building a country that represents us. Across Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and beyond, NextGen aims to register more than 288,000 voters between 18 and 35 and reach out to more than 9 million ahead of the midterm elections.

For the first time in our organization’s history, we’re going to Texas. Texas today is one of the youngest and most diverse states in America, where one in three eligible voters is under the age of 30 and people of color make up the majority. But it’s also a place where we see the very real consequences of voter suppression, systemic racism, minority rule and leadership out of touch with the will of the people.

NextGen is committed to empowering all Texans. We’re partnering with local organizations to launch the largest youth voter mobilization program in state history, and together we’re going to help more than 2.5 million young eligible voters to take charge of their democracy. Young Texans have the power to set a new direction not only for our state but for the entire country.

I say “our state” because I’m a Texan, and this work is deeply personal to me. I’ve been organizing young people and working folks for two decades — ever since I was a sophomore at UT — so I know firsthand the passion and potential Texans have, as well as the determination of entrenched power to prevent them from realizing it.

NextGen is committed to bringing its voter-mobilization expertise to states where young voters and communities of color historically have been underrepresented in the electorate — and where voters face ongoing suppression and discrimination at the ballot box. We’re going to fight hard to ensure every young person, regardless of their color, their income or the neighborhood they come from — has a fair chance to vote, and all the information they need to feel confident about their choice. We’re going to meet them where they are, and communicate our message on their terms.

Young people today are the first generation in American history to see that they’ll be worse off than their parents. That’s not because they’ve failed — it’s because our political system has failed them. Making change and building a future that works for all of us means changing our politics. At NextGen, we’re empowering young people to build a government that respects us, reflects us and represents us. When government finally does that, we can trust it to deliver change on the existential challenges facing our generation: the climate catastrophe, grotesque income inequality and a democracy in decline.

In this coming election, so much will be on the line for young people. We can see that the courage, the imagination and the power of the rising generations of Americans are needed now more than ever. Together, and with the power of our vote, we can make change.

We can deliver a clear message to any politician who refuses to hear our voices and respect our power: if they want to cling to the past, they can have it, but the future belongs to us.

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is the President and Executive Director of NextGen America.