Friday, January 30, 2009

Photos and Notes from The Declare Yourself Inaugural Ball -- The Youth Movement Is Growing

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!


Read more from Jason Pollock at

Dear Mr. President,

These days, everybody has an opinion about what our new president should be doing... even kids!

The after-school tutoring program 826 asked students from around the country to write letters to the President-Elect. A compilation of these letters, called Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids Letters to President Obama was released on Inauguration Day.

Check out this (ADORABLE!) video, featuring some of the authors reading their original works:

We've also reposted some of the best letters below:

Dear President Obama,
Here is a list of the first ten things you should do as president:
1. Fly to the White House in a helicopter.
2. Walk in.
3. Wipe feet.
4. Walk to the Oval Office.
5. Sit down in a chair
6. Put hand sanitizer on hands.
7. Enjoy moment.
8. Get up.
9. Get in car.
10. Go to the dog pound.

Chandler Browne, age 12, Chicago
Dear President Obama,
Are you going to be pictured on our money? How do you get in the White House? Do you like Abraham Lincoln? Do you have a big backyard? Martin Luther King, Jr. had big fans. How many fans do you have? You could help us by giving us food. I am Luis Ramirez. I go to school at Mayberry. I like to play video games.

Luis Ramirez, age 8, Los Angeles
Dear President-elect Obama,
Congratulations on the election. My name is Moses Williams, I am 12 years old and I want to be a director. The job of president is kind of like being a director. "Director of the country!" I think if I were older, more experienced, and in this position I could help you with relationships with other countries because, well, most of the world doesn't really like us and a lot of my friends were people who didn't like me at first. Thank you for reading.

Moses Williams, New York
You are just like a big me.

Avante Price, age 7, Seattle

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Declare Yourself is at the Constitutional Convention 2.0!

Declare Yourself is in Philadelphia -- the cradle of our democracy --  to take part in The Constitutional Convention: Building Democracy 2.0

Hosted by, The National Constitution Center, The National Conference on Citizenship, Why Tuesday, and (of course!) Declare Yourself, the Constitutional Convention 2.0 is a chance for young people to revisit this seminal document of American history and figure out how to "upgrade" it for the Millennial Generation.

Today, we took part in the Constitutional Convention: a group of delegates (students and civic education leaders from around the country) got together to propose sixteen new amendments to our Constitution. The Amendments varied widely, including everything from: expanding the "Equal Rights Amendment" to include sexual preference, to public funding of elections. 

Declare Yourself, always eager to champion the cause of voter registration reform, put forth a proposal for "Automatic Voter Registration," in which every eligible eighteen year old would be registered to vote.

In the debate process, each team has the chance to present their Amendment, the delegation asks questions and debates the pros and cons of the ideas, and finally, the idea is put to a vote.

Sounds easy, right? Here's the catch: you need a 2/3 vote in order to pass your amendment. Anything less and your idea is tossed out!

After hours -- yes, hours! -- of debate on the various issues, the delegates had eliminated all but two of the Amendments: statehood for Washington D.C. and... you guessed it! Automatic Voter Registration

With 81% percent of the vote, Automatic Voter Registration was by far the most popular Amendment proposed!

So... let's get started! Voter registration reform is within our grasp. As the Millennial Generation, we are one of the most powerful voting blocs in the country. Why should we stop here? Let's fight for a Constitutional Amendment to ensure every eligible American is automatically registered to vote! 

Go to and scroll down to the Talk Back to Your Government widget to write a letter to your representative!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Who Knew CNN and Facebook were BFF's?

So what does CNN have in common with Facebook? Not much on the surface, but the two are partnering up on Inauguration day (Jan. 20th) to allow users to watch the historical event on while still communicating with their friends on Facebook. "Facebookers" will be able to go to the Live page on to see Inauguration events while still being linked to Facebook. The live page is split into three segments with streams from the Inauguration and then your basic Facebook status updates, as well as a section that displays your friends.
The idea for this came up when CNN noticed that after election night everyone ran back to their computers to post updates about the election on their Facebook profiles. So for all you social network addicts, don't fret, you won't even have to move your head away from Facebook for one second in order to enjoy the Inauguration as well.

Declare Yourself's 'A New Birth of Citizenship' Inauguration Kick-Off Event with Host Jessica Alba and Musical Performance by Maroon 5

Special Surprise Guests & Premiere of "Born Again American" Song Included in Evening's Festivities

On January 18th at 8pm Declare Yourself is celebrating the new presidential term with our Inauguration kick-off event at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. The star-soaked event will celebrate young voters' phenomenal role in the Election and help spur ongoing civic involvement in the challenging months and years ahead. The evening will be hosted by Jessica Alba and will feature special musical guests including Maroon 5, spoken word artists Steve Connell, Sekou (Tha Misfit), Nuttin' But Strings, celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson, and surprise guests.

The debut of Declare Yourself's "Born Again American" song will premier that evening with a fantastic live performance. The song was specifically written to help spark all listeners to recommit themselves to American citizenship (especially through these difficult times)."Born Again American" asks citizens to pledge themselves to higher levels of service and civic engagement. Norman Lear, the founder of Declare Yourself, said, "This Inauguration marks an important moment in our country's history - one that allows us all to be proud of how far we've come and the direction we're going. Our event celebrates this moment and helps motivate us all to become more active in our communities on the local and national level by getting involved, giving back, and being proud to be an American, born again."

Tickets cost $250 and are available to the public by contacting or calling (202) 547-5797. The proceeds from the evening will go towards Declare Yourself and the "Born Again American" campaign launch in coordination with the Inauguration and the start of the new Presidential administration.