Earlier this summer, Levi Strauss & Co. partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for its Advocacy Institute, which is comprised of a group of young leaders working to bolster civic participation.
The institute brought together a group of 1,250 high school and college students from across the country to Washington D.C. for classroom sessions, lectures and daily debates on public policy issues. Many of the students had the opportunity to interact elected officials, legislative staff, and create an action plan for civic participation.
We continue to learn from these young advocates who are addressing the biggest issues facing this country today, proving just how powerful active, informed, and vocal citizens are on voter engagement.
We touched base with a few students from the Advocacy Institute on their key projects, top takeaways, and proudest moments from their summer advocacy work. Here’s what they had to say:
“Prior to attending the ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute, I had been engaged in advocacy work for underserved communities but was looking for a blueprint which would allow me to impact people’s lives on a greater scale. The Institute did just that. Throughout the summer I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge on political and grassroots activism which I can now bring back home to my community to change it for the better.” – Raven Lucas, Buffalo, NY
“I discovered that it’s one thing to practice inclusivity and equity, but the ability to bring a group together towards a common goal, such as voting advocacy, is crucial work” – Jack Kalvar, Baltimore, MD
“I gained a new sense of perspective that I have so much power to affect change, no matter how ‘small’ I might perceive my impact. I felt proud of myself when I got the opportunity to share my journey in advocacy with others who are working toward the same goals. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that just trying to change the injustices you see is worth celebrating! This summer showed me that I have the potential to make an impact on the world.” -Mahey Gheis, Baltimore, MD
As a result of their participation in the institute, these young advocates are initiating voter engagement efforts back to their own communities. Plus, with the ACLU’s 100th Anniversary coming up, we look forward to seeing the impact next summer’s group of 2,500 students has. We are honored and proud to partner with the ACLU as they work to protect an essential right in our democracy.