Wednesday, July 22, 2009

80 Million Strong: Summit Recap

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!


Cate Little said...

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