Count Us In

We will create a youth coalition in Springdale, AR to educate, train, and empower young people to do voter registration and census outreach.

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

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

08/19/1996

Help us stay in touch!

phone: 4797901643 street: 3904 Mayes Avenue state/city: Arkansas: Springdale (72762) email: jehignite@gmail.com

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

n/a

Date You Started Your Project Started

9/22/2019

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

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

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

There are large "Hard To Count" communities in Northwest Arkansas. "HTC" can include communities that are low-income, rural, non-English speaking, immigrant, and other factors that make it less likely these communities will vote or complete the census. Our region has HTC communities that fit each of those categories and more, which leads to a lack of political representation and less funding for public goods like parks, roads, and schools.

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

HTC communities are more likely to engage in civic life if someone they know asks them to engage. Traditional canvass campaigns often send people into neighborhoods they've never been to so they can talk to people they've never met. Under Count Us In, we will organize a youth coalition in Northwest Arkansas and train an intersectional group of young people from HTC communities in voter registration, census outreach, and canvassing tactics. This year we've already seen action taken by young people, organizing 4 voter registration drives and registering over 150 young people in the span of a week. The point being, this initiative isn't trying to "save" or "do for" the HTC communities of Arkansas. Young leaders in Northwest Arkansas are getting involved, and with the support of T-Mobile, Count Us In will be able to provide the following: 1. In-School distribution that provides students (elementary-high school) language-accessible resources they can use to inform their parents 2. Training for older students in relational organizing/outreach to empower them as individuals to grow the coalition as a collective 3. On April 1, the day the census opens, conduct a mass-canvass action

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

My name is Jackson Hignite, and all I want to do is make Springdale better. My parents are both public servants, so it kind of runs in my blood. I graduated college in the Spring, and I came back home as a Lead for America Hometown Fellow. I am serving the duration of my fellowship at Arkansas United, an immigrant rights advocacy non-profit here in Springdale. I've only just started, but I've already seen how ready the youth movement is in our region, especially in Northwest Arkansas. We've had four voter registrations happen in the past week, and the students I work with just want to do more. I'm submitting this grant with Araceli and Maggie Gonzalez, first generation Americans (Araceli will be a first-gen college graduate this December), and my little brother John Paul who serves on Springdale's youth council. I don't know what to say except this can help people get their voices heard.

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.

1. Education: teachers give resources explaining voter registration and the census to their students to take home. Schools may also hold assemblies explaining the importance of these civic actions and promoting the youth coalition's organizing efforts. 2. Empowerment: motivated young people come to after-school or weekend training sessions with organizers, activists, and public officials to learn how to conduct this type of outreach. Best practices are brainstormed among the group (who knows what will persuade an adult better than their own child, niece, nephew, or grandkid) and compiled into a short "How To Canvass" pamphlet for them to use. 3. Action: On April 1, "Census Day", every member of the youth coalition will leave school and canvass with census and voter registration materials. They will enlist friends, family members, little siblings - the people that know and trust them.

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

1. The immigrant community of NW Arkansas is incredibly disenfranchised. The Latinx and Marshallese community have been a significant part of the Springdale population for over two decades - we are near "majority-minority" status as a city. And yet, the city council is composed only of white residents. Two Latinx people have held elected office (both elected in '18). No Marshallese person has held elected office. This trend is consistent through NW Arkansas. Organization and action are necessary now. 2. Successful youth organization now will create an engaged generation for years to come.

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

We will be able to track the results of our efforts in the following ways: 1. Total members of the youth coalition 2. Total number of people registered to vote 3. Total number of people who report that our efforts led them to complete the census 4. Total number of people that canvass on April 1 in coordination with Count Us In, and their reported outreach metrics.

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

We are barely passing from "idea" stage into "start-up" stage. The next level is creating a plan of action among a group of young leaders about where, when, and how we should start to carry out these organizing actions. In the coming months, partnerships with national organizing efforts like GOTC, GOTV, etc. will help us provide trainings that are tried and tested.

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

  • Project Plan & Strategy

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

  • Family support

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?

  • LGBTQ community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Lead for America

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Photo of Travis Ghirdharie
Team

This seems like an incredible way to engage youth in the political process while helping underrepresented groups understand their power in advocating for more equitable and representative systems and procedures in our country.

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Photo of Brian Anderson
Team

I think this is a really cool idea! I love the thought of using local youths of a disenfranchised or underrepresented community to help pass information and make change to older generations. Do you know how you plan to recruit youths? Are you thinking community colleges, high schools?