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 education 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 and income. In Colorado, schools are as segregated as they were 50 years ago.4
The Colorado Youth Congress is building unstoppable generation of young people who are active in a society that benefits everyone.
HOW WE WORK
The Colorado Youth Congress organizes high school students across the state to lead systems change.
01. BUILD COMMUNITY
Students meet at least monthly to investigate identity, build relationships and learn from one another.
Students learn by engaging with an Action Civics curriculum facilitated by CYC staff and coaches.
Students learn from community leaders and elected officials about systems-level change.
Students work within diverse groups to undertake projects on an issue of their choice.
Throughout the year, students are invited to engage in policy and advocacy opportunities.
“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.