These days, it seems like young people have enough on their plate: unemployment, health insurance, mounting personal debt. Couple that with an economy in crisis, and it seems like the financial well-being of an entire generation is in jeopardy.
To help remedy these problems, Mobilize.org and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation will convene a grant summit in Chicago from November 18-20, called “Exploring the Millennial Generation’s ROI [Return on Investment].” After all, coming up with creative solutions to our economic problems requires a substantial initial investment of passion, time, and money... And as any seasoned investor will tell you, any good investment should result in a great payoff!
We have to come up with sustainable solutions that will:
a) utilize the strengths and resources of the Millennial generation
b) establish creative new ways for Millennials to achieve financial health
c) generate a substantial return on investment - both financially and socially
So put your thinking caps on – Mobilize.org will be awarding grants up to $25,000 for great ideas that “begin to address the the barriers preventing our generation from achieving financial health.” Declare Yourself will be there – will you?
Visit Mobilize.org for more info and APPLY before October 17th. Email email@example.com or call 202-736-5703
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
These days, it seems like young people have enough on their plate: unemployment, health insurance, mounting personal debt. Couple that with an economy in crisis, and it seems like the financial well-being of an entire generation is in jeopardy.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 3:54 PM
Monday, September 21, 2009
Last week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced “Easy to Vote, Easy to Run,” his new plan to modernize the registration and election system.
Though many of the plan’s proposals might seem far-fetched, some are very simple and easily implemented. Some highlights include:
− A “Democracy Index,” which will measure the effectiveness and preparedness of election administration in different areas of the city. Metrics will include: registration, length of lines at the polls and how long it takes for votes to get counted.
− 311: New York City’s new Official Voting Hotline – where city residents can get all of their voting questions and concerns taken care of: “Where do I go?” “How do I get an absentee ballot?” and “I was a victim of voter fraud!”
− Support for National Voter Registration Modernization, which would help boost voter participation and cut down on administrative costs.
− Support for Weekend Voting, an initiative sponsored by Reps Herb Kohl (WI) and Steve Israel (NY), which would change voting day from Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday.
In addition, Bloomberg’s proposal would also make it easier for everyday Americans to run for office by:
− Lowering the number of signatures required to get a spot on the ballot
− Opening up the petitioning process so that Independent voters can nominate candidates of their own via the petitioning process.
Many of you are well aware of our own staunch beliefs in support of Voter Registration Modernization (VRM). Over the next few years, we hope to work alongside other like-minded organizations to raise awareness for this cause and build the infrastructure and legislation needed to make sure every vote counts.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 5:12 PM
Friday, September 11, 2009
Jay Winuk, co-founder of MyGoodDeed, and brother of volunteer firefighter Glenn, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center South Tower.
To participate in remembrance of the victims of September 11, 2001 by taking part in national service today or this weekend, search for local opportunities here.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:10 PM
While democratic involvement is still rooted in the upper and middle classes, it seems that the millenial generation's online engagement may be breaking through socioeconomic lines. In a study released by the Pew Internet Project based on surveys conducted this August, respondents reported an interesting mix of figures related to activism and the internet. Historically, civic participation has a strong correlation with economic standing; those in the bottom one-sixth of all earners have voted at around half the rate of people in the top one-third bracket consistently since the 1940s. According to the report, the internet has yet to radically change this trend: those who earn over $100,000 were more than three times as likely to have participated in some online political activity than those who earned under $40,000.
Still, the report makes two important points. Firstly, political participation on social networking sites seems to transcend class lines:
Taken together, just under one in five internet users (19%) have posted material about political or social issues or a used a social networking site for some form of civic or political engagement. This works out to 14% of all adults -- whether or not they are internet users. A deeper analysis of this online participatory class suggests that it is not inevitable that those with high levels of income and education are the most active in civic and political affairs. In contrast to traditional acts of political participation—whether undertaken online or offline—forms of engagement that use blogs or online social network sites are not characterized by such a strong association with socio-economic stratification.Furthermore, when the data of online activism was broken down by age group, the youngest cohort was overwhelmingly participatory:
Some 37% of internet users aged 18-29 use blogs or social networking sites as a venue for political or civic involvement, compared to 17% of online 30-49 year olds, 12% of 50-64 year olds and 10% of internet users over 65. It is difficult to measure socio-economic status for the youngest adults, those under 25 -- many of whom are still students. This group is, in fact, the least affluent and well educated age group in the survey.Thus, the study implies that while socioeconomic status is still prevalent in determining political participation online or off, this may change as a new generation of internet-users grows older.
On another encouraging note, the report found that online activism doesn't just mean teenagers are engaging in simply clicking on Facebook links, In fact:
Those who use blogs or social networking sites politically are much more likely to be invested in other forms of civic and political activism. Compared to those who go online but do not post political or social content or to those who do not go online in the first place, members of this group are much more likely to take part in other civic activities such as joining a political or civic group, contacting a government official or expressing themselves in the media.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 2:15 PM
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Name: Gary Locke
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Current City: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of appointment: Lawyer, Washington co-chairman of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's bid for president
A third-generation American with paternal ancestry from Taishan, Guangdong in China, Locke is the second of five children. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in political science in 1972, and went on to gain a law degree from Boston University School of Law.
After serving in the Washington house of representatives, Locke was elected the first Chinese American state governor in United States history in 1996. While some Democrats criticized the governor for his stringent no-new-taxes strategy, but he would become a favorite of the party and was even considered as a vice-presidential pick in 2004.
In a surprise move, Locke announced in July 2003 that he would not seek a third term. He went on to join an international law firm and to campaign for Hillary Clinton. On February 25, 2009, Locke was announced as President Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Commerce. His nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on March 24, 2009.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 3:59 PM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Senator Edward Kennedy, an unrelenting progressive presence on the senate floor, passed away Tuesday night. We honor the 77 year old senator's longstanding struggle for civil rights, a half century's fight for Americans in need. Among Kennedy's achievements; the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which fundamentally altered the demographic composition of the nation, countless voting rights bills including that which gave 18 year olds the right to vote, post-Watergate campaign finance reform, the Civil Rights act of 1991, and the increase of minimum wages.
Kennedy was a liberal anchor during the conservative presidency of Reagan, during which he doggedly fought to preserve and improve the Voting Rights act. The senator's ongoing work to provide affordable healthcare for all Americans is still reverberating as reform agenda moves through Washington this summer. Even for his political opponents, senator "Ted" Kennedy was a compassionate and appreciated presence on the senate floor. As longtime friend and coworker Joe Biden said this morning, Kennedy spent his life "working for a fair and more just America."
Posted by Declare Yourself at 3:18 PM
Monday, August 24, 2009
The past several weeks of the healthcare debate have been marked by increasingly chaotic public forums. Town halls became popular over the last few decades as a convenient and personal way for democratically elected representatives to connect with and answer to their constituents. However, as the growing controversy over healthcare reform has come to a head, disruptive conflict has overwhelmed what had previously functioned as a friendly if challenging atmosphere.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 2:54 PM
Friday, August 21, 2009
Last week, nearly 2000 people from across the country convened at the Netroots Nation conference in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Declare Yourself couldn't be there... but Sarah Burris, of Future Majority, attended the voter registration panel and wrote about her experience. Check it out:
One of the panels I attended at Netroots Nation was Repairing our Democracy: Voter Registration Modernization and other Solutions with speakers Secretary Debra Bowen California's Secretary of State, Dean Logan the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for Los Angeles County (the nation’s largest county), Jonah Goldman a national expert on voting and elections, and Justin Levitt counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. The panel was also moderated by Eric Marshall, campaign manager for the National Campaign for Fair Elections in the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law's Voting Rights Project.
Highly knowledgeable experts on the panel seemed to develop the consensus that the system is broken.
"We must have a system of error correction that is speedy enough so that people aren't disenfranchised and the error is corrected," Secretary Bowen said. "We need more consistent rules of residency for students. Some places are down right hostile about allowing students to vote, some are welcoming, but many are very hard on students."
"There are huge barriers to over seas voters and our military. When I visited Iraq and Afghanistan I met with the voting official who is not elected but appointed to do the job. . ."
Bowen continued to describe an over 500 page manual that the military official must be familiar with because there are so many voting laws for each state he must know.
"If we're disenfranchising people who are serving us it's time for the states to voluntarily figure out one cohesive consistent way that it works."
LA County Clerk Dean Logan told a story about a meeting he had with other election officials where it was asked if they could redesign the entire voter registration from if anyone would keep the original... none would.
Logan said they had 500,000 newly registered voters, and on the 15 day cut off for voter registration deadline California Counties had a Midnight Madness for people who had up to the last minute to register to vote.
"We had people coming in in their pajamas and it was packed! But the day after that cut off, we received 64,000 forms by people who missed the deadline. The next day 100,000 people sent in forms. We failed them administratively," he admitted.
But, Mr. Goldman said that new technologies provide a "non-partisan solution to a non-partisan problem that we can all work to fix."
Mr. Logan agreed believing
"despite this archaic system we are using technology better, allowing people to verify their information. But if you're online and realize that you need to change your address or you need to correct it, then that's where it stops, there is no way to update that."
The panel agreed the system breakdown is targeted at registration itself. Everything that happens on the back end is relatively smooth, even Logan said that when it comes to provisional ballots 80-90% of them count and can be verified, but the breakdown happened in the registration process somewhere.
Secretary Bowen said the argument against a massive reorganization and standardization effort would be the constant "states rights" argument. But Bowen believes that registration difficulties that occur in places like Florida and Ohio do affect California in a substantial way. Everything from Universal Registration to Election Day Registration are all options on the table but neither are being considered at the federal level.
The Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act (“MOVE Act”) authored by Senator Chuck Shumer was approved by the US Senate
"after a Rules Committee survey last May showed that as many as one in four ballots cast by military voters went uncounted in last year’s presidential election," Shumer's office said.
Among other things, "the bill would require states to provide ballots electronically. Additionally, it beefs up the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) at the Department of Defense, which is the main source of election-related information and assistance for many members of the military. The legislation, S. 1415, also addresses problems the military and overseas voters face in registering to vote from outside the U.S. It would bar states from rejecting military ballots for lack of a “Notary” signature—a feat difficult to achieve in the bases of Iraq and Afghanistan."
The Student VOTER Act was also re-introduced this session back in March. Late July will also bring the second hearing for the Student VOTER Act in the Committee on House Administration and will hopefully go into mark-up in September when it should also be in line for a floor vote.
Matthew Segal from the Student Association for Voter Empowerment told me via email that Majority Leader Steney Hoyer has been extremely supportive so he's optimistic we can get the bill on the floor this year. If you missed it, former US Senate Leader Tom Daschle has been a fantastic public advocate on the Student VOTER Act, and Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the subcommittee on elections within the Committee on House administration has also now signed onto the bill, as has Susan Davis, who is another member of both the full committee and subcommittee.
"their leadership will assist us in getting the bill marked up this September. We [also] hope that other youth organizations will join us in making this one of their principal legislative priorities for 2009 and 2010."
As Bowen said, issues like Voting Rights aren't as sexy as issues like Health Care, but the ability to register to vote, be able to vote, and have that vote counted as its cast is the foundation of our democracy. We should be able to count on all of those things.
Read the original text of the article HERE.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:25 PM
Monday, August 10, 2009
As social critics are singing the dirge of traditional newspapers, new media is emerging in unlikely and innovative ways. From citizen reporting in the form of personal video clips on sites like iReport.com to the blogging power player Huffington Post, politically inclined Americans have an ever-expanding array of media outlets to choose from.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Name: Kathleen Sebelius
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Current City: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of appointment: Governor of Kansas
Kathleen Sebelius graduated from Trinity Washington University and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas. An avid jazz lover, Sebelius has served as a Kansas Representative, state Insurance Commissioner, and Governor.
Sebelius was praised as governor for working as a strong bipartisan leader who eliminated over $1 billion in debt, increased public education standards, and shedding wasteful spending practices.
Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday, April 29, 2009. The Secretary governs one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government with more than 67,000 employees. HHS is the principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans..
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:10 PM
Monday, August 3, 2009
If Ashton and CNN were last month's hot Twitter-race, this month, we've got our eye on Senator John McCain and the White House!
McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) just surpassed the 1 million mark, easily beating out the White House account (@whitehouse) that has approximately 844,000 followers. Other popular politicians on the site lag behind, but still boast respectable followings; Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill and South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint are the most followed but each have less than 30,000 subscribers.
The most watched politician still remains President Barack Obama (@BarackObama), and other notable political figures on Twitter include CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Vice President Al Gore.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 5:24 PM
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Name: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Current city: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of appointment: United States Senator (D-NY)
A native of Illinois, Hillary Rodham entered the public spotlight in 1969 as the first student to deliver the commencement address at Wellesley College. She embarked on a career in law after graduating from Yale Law School in 1973.
When she was First Lady of the United States, her major initiative, the Clinton health care plan, failed to gain approval from the U.S. Congress in 1994, though in following years she played a definitive role in the establishment of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act.
In 2000, Hillary Clinton made history as the first First Lady elected to the United States Senate, and the first woman elected statewide in New York.
In the 2008 presidential nomination race, Clinton won more primaries and delegates than any other female candidate in American history, but she narrowly lost to Senator Barack Obama. As Obama's Secretary of State, Clinton is the first former First Lady to serve in a president's cabinet.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 11:03 AM
Friday, July 24, 2009
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, only 68 percent of Americans are registered to vote. Compare this to a rate of 100 percent in Argentina, or 97 percent in Belize, and it becomes apparent that the United States’ might have dropped the ball. Nations with higher voter turnout than America’s average of 54 percent (though to be fair, the estimated turnout in the 2008 presidential election was as high as 63 percent) include Malta, New Zealand, Iceland, Germany, Venezuela, Norway, Brazil, Israel and Estonia.
Fortunately, policymakers are gearing up to introduce legislation that will simplify and expand the voter registration process, hopefully in turn increasing civic engagement and enthusiasm about voting. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, has begun to draft a National voter registration modernization bill. Chances are the legislation will follow the recommendations of the commissioned report “Helping Voters Today, Modernizing the System for Tomorrow,” compiled by the nonpartisan coalition Election Protection.
Some of the key policy recommendations include:
*Automatic registration: instead of leaving voter registration to individuals or third-party organizations, the government should actively and automatically register citizens to vote based on state databases that individuals may opt out of.
*Permanent registration: changes like new addresses should not require complicated new registration that many citizens are not aware of. Instead, the choice to update voter information should be given in situations such as registration of new address at the post office.
*Election day correction: voters who are not automatically added to the rolls, or those who have minor inconsistencies in their information should be able to update their registration on election day if they have official proof. No eligible citizen should be turned away at the polls because their name was not added or was taken off of the list.
*Decrease voter disinformation: provide adequate education about voting and prohibit voting practices intended to misinform, intimidate, or disenfranchise citizens.
*Provide adequate resources and incentives to election officials to ensure efficient and well-performed election management.
*Implement "no excuse" early voting: expanding the dates for voting and making poll time flexible will encourage a greater proportion of the population to vote.
What do you think of these ideas? What other reform could the United States voting system use?
Posted by Declare Yourself at 9:14 PM
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
If you haven’t yet read Claire’s post about her own experience at the summit, be sure to check it out below! Participants at the 80 Million Strong event last week enthusiastically covered a smattering of important issues affecting the millennial generation during the recession, and broke into lobbying sessions with over 70 congressional representatives to promote their agenda.
Speakers included the Honorable Ken Salazar, Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL), former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Jared Bernstein, chief economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden.
Why was the summit necessary? For those of you who have just entered the workforce, you might have some idea; 17.8 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds in America are jobless, a figure that is almost double the national jobless rate of 9.4 percent.
During an interactive voting session during the two-day conference, the civically inspired members voted on top priorities for Washington. Some highlights from the top ten policy recommendations:
*Target youth social entrepreneurship by developing a Youth Innovation Fund, modeled after the Social Innovation Fund, to grant money to young social entrepreneurs addressing critical needs of American communities.
*Make AmeriCorps more viable for all interested parties, regardless of socioeconomic status, by raising wages so that participants are not working at or below the poverty level.
*Provide low-income students who cannot otherwise afford college with free education at a state university contingent upon their volunteer service in the public sector with a Community Scholars program
*Establish a public service academy, similar to military academies like West Point.
*Ensure health care coverage access to young people by extending dependent status for insurance coverage up to age 26 years of age regardless of student status and/or expanding Medicaid to include childless young adults. Establish a national standard for health care coverage instead of relying of state-to-state legislation.
*Come up with solutions to the student loan/debt issue. Create income- based repayment including private loans and unify the existing three strands of financial aid: Pell Grants, Loans, & Work Study
*Form a young diplomatic service program, aimed at those who usually are not exposed to this sort of opportunity (like community college students,) to foster deep relationships between citizens, cultures, and governments using funding for the Public Service act.
To learn more about the proposed policies and to get a full summary of the summit, check out 80 Million Strong. Also, be sure to stay tuned for upcoming information about another summit to be held in Chicago this October!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 3:24 PM
Friday, July 17, 2009
Name: Janet Napolitano
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Current City: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of appointment: Governor of Arizona
Janet Napolitano graduated from Santa Clara University with a Truman Scholarship, and continued to the University of Virginia School of Law. After working in the field of private law, Napolitano was appointed by President Clinton to the post of United States Attorney for the District of Arizona. She helped lead the investigation into the Oklahoma City Bombing. In 1998 she successfully ran for the position of Arizona Attorney General, where she focused on consumer protection issues and enhancing law enforcement in the state.
In 2002, Napolitano won the Arizona gubernatorial election. While governor, she became the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, where she helped to create the Public Safety Task Force and the Homeland Security Advisors Council.
President Obama nominated Napolitano for Secretary of Homeland Security mid-way through her second term as governor, and in January she became the first woman appointed secretary in the relatively new department.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:06 PM
Thursday, July 16, 2009
We're back from the 80 Million Strong Summit and excited about the issues and possibilities raised by the over 100 Millennials who contributed their ideas. Our own Claire Morgenstern (from Pittsburgh, PA) took part in the conference and lobbied her Congressman on behalf of the 80 Million Strong agenda. Read on to find out how Claire made a difference:
After a long day of formulating policy on everything from green initiatives and health care to student loans and cyber security, we returned to the Capitol to do a crucial final vote in which each participant would rank the policies we had created in order of importance. Once the votes were tallied, we would be able to see which initiatives our group felt were most crucial overall to the health and wealth of the millennial generation.
After an inspirational talk from Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, our main task that day was to leave the security of our meeting room and into the offices of senators and congressmen to lobby for the policies we had spent so many hours fine-tuning the day before. We broke into groups based on our home states and prepared for our pre-scheduled meetings with state representatives. My group, Pennsylvania, was made up of about six constituents who represented various regions throughout the state—Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, State College (home to Penn State), and towns and suburbs in between. We would be meeting with the legislative assistant of democratic senator Bob Casey. Having heard Casey speak in Pittsburgh to endorse Obama last Spring, I knew our proposal wouldn’t be a hard sell; still, it was important that our argument be well-articulated.
Casey’s thing is national security, so we brainstormed ways to connect his interests to our cause—creating more jobs. A pressing concern for our country is the need to increase cybersecurity. We reasoned that young people, on the whole, are more tech savvy than older people, which would make them the ideal candidates to fill new positions in an expanded cybersecurity sector.
Casey’s legislative assistant, Bryn McDonough, met us in the lobby of Casey’s office, which is located in the high-ceilinged, marble-floored Russel Building across the street from the Capitol. She led us into a conference room adorned with Pennsylvania memorabilia—copies of vintage postcards announcing “Greetings From” different cities throughout the state blown up to poster-size and a plate of oversized cookies that claimed to have been baked in Pennsylvania.
“I’m sure you have an agenda prepared,” Bryn said, gesturing to us to start. The chosen member of our group explained the growing need for cybersecurity experts, and that creating new jobs in this field would both employ large numbers of young people and help keep the United States safe. Another member of our group offered a personal story, as we had been told to do during our lobby training session that morning. She had graduated from Penn State a year-and-a-half ago with four degrees in the field of information technology. Since then, she has been unable to find employment, often going through the interview process but never getting hired. She went back to the job she held during high school, working at McDonald’s, but was forced to cut her hours from 40 to 8 hours a week. If her parents hadn’t taken her and her husband in, she said, they would be homeless. If the government created more jobs for information technology professionals, she concluded, she would be able to use her skills in a way that also helped her country.
Bryn patiently took notes while we took turns speaking.
“I completely agree with you,” she said when we were finished. “I am part of your generation too, and we know that the government needs to find a way to use the unique skill set that young people have and older people don’t.” She gave each one of us her card and invited us to a bi-weekly constituent breakfast that Casey holds, which happened to be the following morning. Then she shook our hands and led us out of the building.
What a lot of people don’t realize is how easy it is to make contact with your local state representatives, and that many representatives actually rely on feedback from their constituents to determine future courses of action according to what’s best for their state and the country. So if there’s something bugging you that you think your government representatives might be able to help with, don’t shy away from letting them know. Use the TALK BACK widget on the Declare Yourself website (scroll down) to write an email to your representatives. They’re called representatives for a reason—their job is to represent you. So make sure they’re doing it right!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:13 PM
Monday, July 13, 2009
Tomorrow, 100 young Americans will meet in Washington to generate an innovative, open forum about how to provide the next generation of jobseekers with employment during these challenging economic times.
Declare Yourself will be actively participating as part of the 80 Million Strong for Young American Jobs Coalition summit that begins Tuesday in Washington, D.C. On the agenda: making the government aware of the Millenial generation's difficulties in coping with the recession and providing creative solutions for these issues. Concrete proposals will center around creating jobs that have a foundation in volunteerism, public service, and evolving fields like technology, healthcare and the environment.
The summit will result in a collective legislative proposal that will directly engage with policymakers.
Please share YOUR ideas, questions, input and advice with US, so that we may bring your voices to the summit as well! Leave a comment, or interact with us on Twitter; send us a tweet @80MS
Check back for more updates!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 2:01 PM
Monday, June 29, 2009
One of the hot topics in Washington is now coming to a computer screen near you. As legislation on health care reform moves through Congress, the White House is opening its ears to the public to answer questions from everyday citizens about how the administration is trying to bring affordable and accessible health care to everyone. On Wednesday, President Obama will hold an online town-hall meeting with some of his top health care advisors to answer your questions! This will be the first time the White House has used forums like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube in an official town hall meeting. Watch the President's video, and make your own response to it here!
If you are a Twitter user, ask YOUR question about health care using the hashtag #WHHCQ. If you have access to facebook, join the conversation here!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Name: Arne Duncan
Hometown: Hyde Park, Chicago
Current City: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of Appointment: CEO of Chicago Public Schools
Arne Duncan graduated from Harvard University in 1987 with a degree in sociology. After a brief career in professional basketball (he has played pickup games with President Obama), he entered the field of education and became director of a program to provide better educational opportunities for children on the South Side of Chicago.
In 2001, Mayor Richard Daley appointed Duncan to serve as CEO of the Chicago Public School system. During his tenure, Duncan oversaw the nation's third-largest school district and established himself as a mediating figure with a knack for consensus-building. Obama lauded Duncan for improvements in the Chicago district-- known as one of the most challenging in the nation-- such as a rising graduation rate, merit-based pay for teachers, and the opening of new schools. Duncan eschews partisanship in issues of education; he has managed to maintain the support of teacher's unions despite his backing of reforms they oppose, and he was the only big-city superintendent to sign competing education manifestos put forth last summer.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:40 PM
Monday, June 8, 2009
Over the past few weeks, the blogs have been abuzz with praise for Voter Registration Modernization (or VRM, as people have come to call it). VRM supports the automatic registration of every eligible American. It cuts down on registration errors, ensures every American their constitutional right to vote, and – according to a new study from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund – saves the nation quite a bit of money!
The PIRG study surveyed 100 counties for this study and concluded that those counties alone spent over 33 million dollars on “simple registration implementation and error correction issues in 2008.” With thousands of counties across the country, it’s difficult (and daunting) to hazard a guess as to how much America spends on the voter registration process in total.
“Too much time, effort, and money is spent at the local level reacting to and paying for our paper-driven, mistake-riddled registration process. Our system creates challenges for local officials and wastes taxpayer dollars,” says U.S.PIRG Education Fund Democracy Advocate, Lisa Gilbert.
At Declare Yourself, we’ve been championing VRM since early this year when we brought the issue up at the Constitutional Convention 2.0. Support for the initiative was overwhelming; at the mock-Continental Congress, convened delegates passed the Automatic Voter Registration amendment by an overwhelming 84%!
VRM would also allow us to concentrate more of our efforts on actually getting out the vote on Election Day and increasing participation in government. Perhaps this new study will convince Americans – and our legislators – that modernizing the voter registration system would benefit both the civic and fiscal wellbeing of our country!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 5:18 PM
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
A couple weeks ago, I made the long trek cross country to attend my best friend’s graduation from NYU (also my alma mater). Since Washington Square is under renovation, the graduation took place at the newly built Yankee Stadium, uptown. Fresh-faced grads swarmed the stadium, clad in purple robes and boundless optimism. Even the weather took an upward turn: the sun shining, the breeze whistling through the aisles.
The celebratory tone of the day masked the economic reality awaiting 2009 grads: the economy is down, jobs are scarce, Millennials don’t know where to turn.
But listening to the speakers at NYU graduation, the trials of the economy and the job market seemed miles away. The theme running through the ceremony was "community." NYU, after all, is the most unlikely of communities – spanning the many boroughs and neighborhoods of New York City.
Even the keynote speaker - Hillary Clinton - caught onto the theme of the day, stressing the need for every American to become a “citizen ambassador" and foster a truly global community. Addressing the dwindling job market, Hillary flashed a smile and beckoned the students, “We’re hiring!”
Unfortunately, not all employers are so eager to take on new employees. Among young people, the unemployment rate is 19%. (That’s twice the national average!) My friends graduating now are facing one of the most unpredictable economies this country has ever seen.
In order to combat the dwindling job market, Declare Yourself has partnered up with a new initiative called 80 Million Strong for Young American Jobs. On July 14th and 15th, the 80 Million Strong Coalition is hosting a summit in Washington DC. At the summit, we’re going to be convening young leaders from across America to collaborate on ideas about how to build an economy that reflects our greatest strengths as a generation.
CLICK HERE TO APPLY AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
After all, if we’re going to stand a chance in this economy, we’ve got to band together and form a community – a community that is 80 million Millennials strong.
Trust me, if NYU can do it, so can we…
SEE YOU IN DC!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:30 PM
Friday, May 22, 2009
Remember our "Muzzler" PSA campaign starring Jessica Alba and Hayden Panettiere? Here's a bit of a refresher:
Video Credits: Producer: Michael Abbott, Director: Brandon Kraines, Writer: Greg Rosenzweig, Co-Producer: Sun de Graff
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:36 PM
Monday, May 4, 2009
In our last post, we blogged about the White House's newfound love of social media. Check out Obama's latest Weekly Address, in which he explains the importance of Twitter and Facebook in disseminating information about Swine Flu.
Avoid disinformation by checking out the @whitehouse tweets on the epidemic:
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:52 PM
Friday, May 1, 2009
There’s been quite a bit of talk, in the past few months, about the importance of transparency in government. During the campaign, transparency was one of Obama’s favorite buzzwords and post-election, the White House has doubled its efforts to make sure that Americans are kept up to date on the latest news coming out of the White House:
-You can read the White House Blog
-You can follow them on Twitter @WhiteHouse
-You can keep tabs on where money is going in government via Transparency.gov
Social networking and Web 2.0 are definitely important strides towards Obama’s proclaimed “new era of openness,” but what are all of these networks really doing to improve transparency? This week, NYU’s Brennan Center took Obama back to school with their Transparency Report Card – awarding him everything from A+ to F!
What do you think? Is the administration not going far enough to improve transparency in government? Are they going too far? Leave us a comment!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:09 PM
Thursday, April 30, 2009
This year, two million more young voters showed up at the polls than in 2004. According to CIRCLE, turnout rose to 51% -- the third highest youth voter turnout in history.
These numbers are encouraging. Young people across the nation are taking an interest in national politics in unprecedented numbers! However, the same statistic also indicates that 48.9 % of young Americans did not show up.
Think about it like the glass half-full, glass half-empty conundrum… everyone's happier when the glass is just plain full!
CIRCLE’s research shows hat one of the determining factors in youth voter turnout was level of education. Typically, college enrolled voters turned out at a higher rate (62%) than those who aren’t enrolled (32%). This is likely due to last election’s large-scale campus organizing movements.
Looking towards 2010, Declare Yourself wants to find new ways to get young people to REGISTER AND VOTE – regardless of whether or not they’re in college. How do you think we should do it? Leave us a comment!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 1:44 PM
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Yesterday, Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Learn and Serve America Act - sweeping reform that will triple the size of Americorps, strengthen existing nonprofits, and give educational grants to students who serve their country. Sweeping reform like this has not been seen since the creation of the Peace Corps by JFK in 1961. Alongside this new legislation, the White House also introduced Serve.gov, a new platform for volunteerism and national service.
And the timing could not be better: young Americans are clamoring for new, exciting ways to take part in their community. A recent USA Today article calls Millennials "the Civic Generation," whose philanthropic spirit echoes the Greatest Generation of the 1930's and 40's. Michael Brown, founder and CEO of City Year, says, “Community service is part of [the Millennials’] DNA.”
I couldn’t agree more. Working at a nonprofit does require passionate dedication to our jobs (and sometimes a bit of personal sacrifice!) Ultimately, we rarely make as much money as classmates who took corporate jobs, we’re often understaffed, and we routinely work long hours to get the job done… But, in the end, its rewarding to know that the work that we do every day will have an effect--even in some small way--on the lives of Americans across the country.
Want to give back? Check out these great resources:
National Service Hub: http://serve.gov
Peace Corps: http://peacecorps.gov
Teach for America: http://teachforamerica.org
City Year: http://cityyear.org
The United Way: http://liveunited.org
Habitat for Humanity: http://habitat.org
The Red Cross: http://redcross.org
Nonprofit Job Postings / Volunteer Opportunities: http://idealist.org
Volunteer Opportunities: http://declareyourself.com
Posted by Declare Yourself at 3:26 PM
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Back before the election, Declare Yourself partnered up with VotoLatino to bring you "La Pasion de la Decision," a series of voter registration telenovelas/PSAs starring Wilmer Valderrama, Rosario Dawson, and Tony Plana.
We’re proud to announce that “La Pasion de la Decision” was honored with a Webby Honoree Recognition for Public Service and Activism in online video!
Check out the first telenovela in the series…
What will happen next? Will Rodrigo register to vote? Will he and Carmen ever marry? And why is Lola so evil? Check out the next three telenovelas at DeclareYourself.com!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 4:46 PM
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
We recently blogged about the House’s passage of the GIVE Act, designed to provide educational grants as incentives to take part in public service.
Great news! Last week, the Senate passed similar legislation – the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – which reinforces many of the key aspects of the GIVE Act. The bill expands service opportunities to 250,000 per year, motivates young people through educational grants, provides better service opportunities for seniors and Boomers and establishes a “Social Innovation Fund” to identify and grow organizations working to solve tough problems on a community level. Another key aspect of the Serve Act is that it designates 9/11 as a National Day of Service.
This bill is expected to easily pass the House and Barack Obama will be able to sign the measure as early as this week! However, as Obama notes,
“Our work is not finished when I sign this bill into law – it has just begun. While our government can provide every opportunity imaginable for us to serve our communities, it is up to each of us to sieze those opportunities.”
What will you do to give back to your community? Leave a comment!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:11 PM
Monday, March 30, 2009
On February 17, 2008, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in a new effort to jumpstart our economy. As I write this blogpost, funds from the Recovery Act are being allocated in districts across the country to modernize our nation’s infrastructre, enhance our energy independence, expand educational opportunities, improve healthcare, provide tax relief and help Americans in need.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 5:21 PM
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Name: Hilda L. Solis
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Current City: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of Appointment: served in the United States House of Representatives for CA
Solis was raised in California by immigrant parents from Nicaragua and Mexico. She earned degrees from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and the University of Southern California and worked for two federal agencies in Washington D.C. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve in the State Senate, and was re-elected there in 1998. She is known for her work toward environmental justice and recieved the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000. She is the first Hispanic woman to serve as secretary in the U.S. cabinet.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 10:01 AM
Friday, March 20, 2009
A word from our Executive Director, Marc Morgenstern
I went to a college whose anthem blissfully toasted “Bright college years with pleasures rife, the shortest gladdest years of life.” I imagine these words coming out of the upturned mouths of letter-sweatered undergrads, all male of course, whose biggest concern was the ratio of vodka to vermouth in their post-game martini. After all, post-grad jobs were easy to pluck.
So, with glasses held high we toast the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act this week. Forgive the tortured acronym because GIVE, like a similar Senate bill, provides higher education grants to students who participate in community service projects.
This effort not only triples federally-supported volunteer activities, according to our friends at Mobilize.org who were instrumental in pushing the bill, it answers the other question on collegiate lips: how can I afford to do good in this economy? All the calls for national service are as hollow as an empty glass if young people can only volunteer on
According to the latest federal stats, 15.5 percent of young people ages 16-24 are unemployed, way behind the rest of the nation's workforce. Education grants are great. But the “gladdest” legislative solution is creating real jobs that combine the urge to serve with a passable payday.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 1:54 PM
Name: Steven Chu
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Current City: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of Appointment: professor at the University of California, Berkeley and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Steven Chu attended Berkeley and later became a professor of physics at Stanford University in 1987. Chu comes from a family of scholars; his father earned an advanced chemical engineering degree at MIT while his maternal grandfather earned advanced civil engineering degrees at Cornell University.As a scientist, Chu is known for his research in cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997. He is a vocal advocate for more research into alternative energy and nuclear power, arguing that a shift away from fossil fuels is essential to combat global warming.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:12 PM
Friday, March 13, 2009
During the 2008 campaign, the media often gave John McCain a hard time for not knowing how to check his email and many critics felt he was out of touch with the internet generation. At one point, McCain even admitted:
“I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon... I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.”
Posted by Declare Yourself at 3:28 PM
Name: Timothy F. Geithner
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Current City: Washington D.C.
Job at time of appointment: President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Before his nomination to the Treasury, Secretary Geithner served as the ninth president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he began on November 17, 2003. He served as the vice chairman and a permanent member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the group responsible for preparing the nation's fiscal policy. Geithner's nomination came under scrutiny due to his failure to pay more than $30,000 in overdue taxes.
Geithner ultimately received Senate confirmation, but he was condemned for not following the rules of the Internal Revenue Service, which is a child agency of the Treasury Department he now oversees.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 2:22 PM
Thursday, March 12, 2009
24 million young people voted in the 2008 Presidential Election, but registration problems stopped millions more before they could get into the voting booth. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) began hearings March 11th on how to fix problems that hit 18-29 year olds especially hard.
"In the 21st century people shouldn't be denied their constitutional right to vote because of problems caused by an antiquated voter registration system that was set up in the 19th century by the Whig Party."
Posted by Declare Yourself at 11:26 AM
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Last year, I helped my grandma move. Going through her garage, I happened upon a stack of old newspapers she’d kept in honor of important dates in history: the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the first moon landing, the election of Ronald Reagan.
Since 2003, The Newseum in Washington has been doing the same thing – only on a broader scale. Every day, the Newseum features hundreds of front pages from newspapers around the world. Today, for example, they feature 748 newspapers’ front pages from 69 countries! Check out their amazing tool that maps daily newspaper front pages by city and state:
Also, if you’ve got a nostalgic streak, you can peruse their Archives section which features important headlines dating back to 2003 (when they first started building this archive). In an age of globalization, where news travels quickly, it’s refreshing to see that newspapers can still thrive on a local level.
Personally, as a member of the Millennial generation, I must confess that I do read most of my news online. But on occasion, I still find myself drawn to the newsstand, laying down my fifty cents for a published, printed record of the life-changing events that define my era.
Posted by Declare Yourself at 1:19 PM
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Name: Eric Holder
Posted by Declare Yourself at 10:08 AM
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
It's been exactly four months since Election Day and some counties are still dealing with the aftermath of recounts, registration issues, and challenged ballots!
In the Santa Barbara County Supervisor race, a trial has been raging between the incumbent, Steve Pappas, and his challenger, Doreen Farr. In November, Farr won the election by 806 votes. After a recount, ordered by Pappas in December, one vote was switched to Pappas’ favor. Pappas contested the outcome, citing forgery and illegal registrations – most of which, he contends, occurred in the UC Santa Barbara and Isla Vista areas.
9,000 votes specifically from the UC Santa Barbara campus have been challenged. Due to exponential growth of voter registration efforts on the UCSB college campus, Pappas believes that registration fraud – and ultimately, voter fraud, has occurred. Pappas’ attorneys claim that (allegedly) incomplete and late voter registration forms should not be processed, and correspondingly, those votes should not be counted.
The voter fraud trial between Pappas and Faar is currently on hold, but when proceedings resume on March 11th, Pappas’ attorney is expected to call witnesses who participated in voter registration drives on the UCSB campus. With the echoes of these registration issues still reverberating throughout the local and national news, Americans must look for a way to modernize the system. The time has come for Automatic Voter Registration!
America relies on one of the most outdated systems of voter registration in the world. Wouldn’t life be easier if every American were automatically registered at the age of eighteen? This way, organizations like Declare Yourself could focus less on registering and more on getting out the vote! Also, elected officials like Pappas and Farr could spend less time tied up in court and more time legislating on issues that matter most to Americans!
Visit the Declare Yourself website to talk back to your officials and write a letter to your Secretary of State. Ensure the validity of your vote – and the votes of Americans across the country – by demanding Automatic Voter Registration!
Posted by Declare Yourself at 1:26 PM
Friday, February 20, 2009
Students across America have rallied around President Obama's call to service. More and more young people are devoting their time to public service and volunteer opportunities in their communities.
Launched in 2006, the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll seeks to award colleges and universities for their commitment to community service through innovative and effective techniques. This year’s honorees were presented during the American Council on Education Annual Conference in Washington D.C.
The top six colleges (out of a total of 635!) were honored with the “Presidential Award”. Congratulations to:
• Emory University
• Michigan State
• California State University, Fresno
• Brookhaven College
• Duke University
• University of Missouri – Kansas City
Criteria are based on factors such as percentage of students engaged in at least 20 hours of service per semester, whether academic service-learning is a part of the core curriculum, and ratio of alumni who are current AmeriCorps and Peace Corps members.
The awarding is the highest federal recognition a college can receive for this type of commitment. It’s pretty cool seeing how many schools made the honor roll this year, which shows how many students and institutions are dedicated to being a part of their community and putting others before themselves.
Whether you’re in school or not, take some time out of your week to feed the homeless, clean a beach, rebuild the Gulf Coast. The possibilities are endless, but it begins with YOU.
Find out about opportunities in your neighborhood at DeclareYourself.com
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:01 PM
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Name: Robert Gates
Posted by Declare Yourself at 10:02 AM
Friday, February 6, 2009
Hometown: Auburn, AL
Current City: Washington D.C.
Job at time of appointment: Communications Director for Barack Obama's Campaign
Name: Ellen Moran
Hometown: Amherst, Massachusetts
Current City: Washington D.C.
Job at time of appointment: Executive Director of Emily's List
Deputy Communications Director
Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware
Current City: Washington D.C.
Job at time of appointment: Communications Director for the Obama Campaign
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:34 PM
Friday, January 30, 2009
Special Guest Blogger Jason Pollock
I was lucky enough to go to Declare Yourself's Inaugural Party during my time in Washington D.C. last week. I went with my friend Matt Bologna, who is a professional photographer. He took amazing pics that I wanted to share with you. Click here to check out Matt's awesome pics.
Declare Yourself was started by the legendary Norman Lear to be the major youth movement in America. They have a number of on-going campaigns and are very effective with their voter registration, celebrity outreach, and youth organizing. It is inspiring to be able to work with them and I am honored by their support of my feature film and non-profit movement, The Youngest Candidate. Marc Morgenstern and Diana Nguyen run Declare Yourself with Norman Lear and their brilliance and hard work is unlike any other I have seen in the non-profit world. Norman Lear is so inspiring to me. He has dedicated his life to being a truly engaged citizen of America and I think he is someone we all need to look up to as an example of what one person can do in our democracy.
I did a lot of work with Declare Yourself before the presidential election this year. SEIU, Zune, and Declare Yourself were the major sponsors of my 21-city battleground state tour to get the youth vote out before election day. It was truly wonderful to celebrate the inaugural with people who you worked so hard with. For me, that was one of the best things about being in D.C. last week. It was feeling the special connection that we all had because of the immense amounts of work we all did before this recent election day.
It was wonderful to get to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama in D.C., but throughout the parties that I went to I could sense a feeling that everyone was now really ready to get to work. I'd like to think that the organizers and policy makers at these events understand the dire times we are now in and are ready to try and make real change for America. My work with the youth movement is not over. I am so inspired by what the youth movement did in 2008 and seeing the Declare Yourself Inaugural party was a huge sign of the power that the youth movement has created.
Needless to say their party was amazing. They had great speakers and performers. Norman Lear spoke about one of their new campaigns, Born Again American. Jamie Foxx, Jessica Alba, and Hayden Panettierre also spoke about their excitement for the current youth movement in America. Then John Legend and Maroon 5 performed. Then Samantha Ronson rocked the crowd and DJ'd (with Lindsay Lohan on stage) late into the night. Check out Matt's pics, they are rad... Thank you so much Declare Yourself for all your work and the amazing party!
-jpRead more from Jason Pollock at www.theyoungestcandidate.com
Posted by Declare Yourself at 12:11 PM