Youth United for Action

YU4A is an online community that brings together youth changemakers across movements to build the collective power of youth activists.

Photo of megan@stuvoice.org
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Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

07/07/1999

Help us stay in touch!

203-615-1717 Megan Simmons 5905 Altschul New York, NY 10027

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @megan.simmons_ Twitter: @megan__simmons

Date You Started Your Project Started

11/17/2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Schools are not teaching students the skills needed for political participation or helping them to see the benefits of becoming active. So, young people turn to social media for more information about social issues. Online, an entire world of issues, activists, and resources are available to them, but are equally overwhelming. Prior to YU4A, no hub existed to provide young people with a community of changemakers and opportunities for activism.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

My solution to the lack of organization within the youth activism space is Youth United for Action (YU4A). YU4A is a Facebook group for activated young changemakers who are creating solutions to pressing challenges in their communities. We believe that a connected community of youth changemakers will advance our individual and collective impact as Gen Z seeks to create a more equitable world. Members in YU4A share their stories of success and failure, ask questions and participate in discussions, and share opportunities. Young people across the United States learn about new organizations and projects and, in turn, start new collaborations. The community is an online hub that has seen more than 500 young changemakers bond over their shared challenges. YU4A makes the work feel less lonely for young people working in more sparsely populated regions of the country. Further, as of this fall, it provides monthly video calls with industry professionals for members to learn and connect with each other. In sum, Youth United for Action serves as a central hub for youth activists, bringing changemakers together across movements and continents to connect, learn, and grow our collective impact.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I first became involved in youth organizing in 2015 as a student organizer during the 2016 election. After, I was introduced to the #StuVoice weekly twitter chats. These twitter chats gave me the opportunity to discuss my experience in school with other students from across the country and learn how education differs from town to town. The stories inspired me to attend an in-person Student Voice meetup later in 2016. I was first able to become involved in the broader youth activation space because of online and in-person interactions I had with people who were already in the space. From there, I became Student Voice's Director of Strategy, working to create programs and opportunities for young people to become activated changemakers. I believe that Youth United for Action has the potential to connect thousands of young people with projects to unleash their passion and improve our world.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When a young person joins YU4A, they are welcomed by one of the moderators and given the opportunity to introduce themselves to the rest of the group. New members are able to see the group’s collective action units once they enter the group. Each unit is focused on a different social issue. The unit contains information about the problem, discussions that have taken place about the problem, and opportunities to become involved with individuals and groups that are tackling the problem. Content is posted in the group daily that members can interact with, ranging from discussions, to stories of other activists’ successes and shortcomings, to articles and resources about social issues, and opportunities for open positions in other youth organizations. Once a student becomes involved in YU4A, they have the entire youth activation space at their disposal.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

YU4A exists to bring together people from across movements.While other programs and solutions do incredible work empowering young people to take action on specific issues in their communities, we exist to bring these young people together to learn from each other. We serve as a connector to build a larger youth activation community. While young changemakers fighting for gun safety and young people fighting to de-stigmatize mental health do very different work, we believe that they have experiences, skills, and resources that each would benefit from learning from each other.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

In less than one year, YU4A has grown to 500 members, with more joining each week. Members have been able to learn from each other, share resources, and share opportunities to maximize our collective impact. One example is a student from Iowa receiving tactics to support her campaign to testify to her school board against standardized testing. Another student was able to receive facilitation training from another member's organization in order to conduct mental health roundtables in her school. Additionally, throughout 2019, as Student Voice has been on a national tour of schools, students we met on tour have been added to YU4A. For many, the Student Voice visit was their first introduction to youth activism and organizing, but joining YU4A allowed them to take the next step in their changemaker journey by connecting them to a larger community of young activists.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

At our members' request, we are launching a new program for the YU4A community: the Youth Action Network. These are monthly professional development webinars open to all members to provide virtual space for them to learn from industry leaders and connect with and learn from each other. Call topics include education policy, conversation facilitation, publishing, fundraising, and storytelling, among others. We are also working to start hosting regional meetups for members. While online interactions are powerful, we know that in person interactions can bring connections to another level. We hope to be able to host regional meetups for members to be able to connect and engage in action planning in the same physical space.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Monitoring Impact

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Donations between $100-$1k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Disability community
  • LGBTQ community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact
  • In-person event
  • Email

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

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