Inequality is widening in the United States, and it's getting harder for people to get ahead. So many of the problems we face are systemic in nature -- rising health care costs, mass incarceration, and educational inequity for example -- yet we're not preparing our young people to address these systems issues. Two major forces remain largely unaddressed:
Civics education in the U.S. isn't a priority, ineffective and inequitable. High quality civics has not been a national or state priority for the last sixty years,2 and now less than a quarter of eighth graders in the U.S. are proficient in civics. White, wealthy students are four-to-six times more likely to be proficient in civics than students of color from low-income families.3
Students are not building social capital across lines of race, income and politics. In Colorado, schools are as segregated as they were 50 years ago and we continue to polarize politically.
The Colorado Youth Congress organizes diverse communities of young people to lead equitable, systems-level change.
We envision a world where all people have an equal say in the direction of the future, with young people working across lines of difference in order to bring about a fair and inclusive society.
We recruit students from urban, suburban and rural communities across Colorado to build relationships, set a public agenda, and form campaign teams to work towards that vision.
At the core of our model are youth-led civic change campaigns. Each team gets $500, a coach, our curriculum, and access to our network of systems leaders. Students are in the drivers seat of this work, making all major decisions around goals, strategies, and how to use their budget. Campaigns operate at two levels.
- Regional: students come from across the Metro Denver area for 12 Saturdays throughout the year. CYC hires and develops coaches to help the students with their campaign.
- School-based: students work within a school setting, leading a campaign with their classmates and the help of a teacher as coach.
“We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disquised as insoluble problems.”
Milestones and Impact
● July 2017: Organization founded with the partnership of three pilot high schools in Denver
● November 2017: Youth-led campaigns kicked off with 50 students representing 11 schools and 4
districts. 93% of participants have reported building a lasting relationships with someone from a
different racial or SES background and 87% feel equipped to work together to lead systems change.
● October 2017: Raised significant funding from philanthropic and individual sources.
● January 2018: Expanded to 75 students from 14 schools and 6 districts, including rural Colorado.
BECOME A COACH
Our student leaders need great people to advise them. We'd love to have you on the team.
BECOME A SPONSOR
Our business and non-profit sponsors signal their support for youth and their engagement in the world.
BECOME A MEMBER
Do you want to join Colorado Youth Congress? Apply here for the 2018-19 school year.
Your support helps us prepare students as they work together to solve the most pressing problems of our time.