By Veronica Terriquez (UC Santa Cruz)
Grassroots youth organizing groups, growing in number and influence over the last decade, have raised civic awareness and engagement among youth in California’s agricultural Central Valley. These non-partisan groups are making an important contribution in a region where a young, racially diverse, and immigrant population faces significant challenges. The average age of residents is lower than in California overall, and 77% of those younger than 35 identify as non-White. They experience disproportionately high rates of poverty (25% of those under the age of 35 live below the poverty line compared to 18% in the entire state).
Youth organizing groups have stepped forward to offer young members a civics education, as well as practical information on the election process and government decision making. As a result, young Central Valley residents are learning how to shape social policies in ways that benefit their communities and engage others in having a voice. This research brief provides an overview of the campaign issues addressed by youth organizing groups and their impact on voter turnout.