The hot topic from the UN General Assembly last week was how to activate millennials. From Mashable’s Social Good Summit to ONE’s own Millennial Factivism panel to the Clinton Global Initiative, organizations and groups struggled to answer the question of how to engage 18- to 33-year-olds. Why? Because by 2030, they will be the leaders in charge and the ones who can push towards virtually ending extreme poverty.
Chelsea Clinton, one of the world’s more active and recognizable millennials (she’s on the cusp), understands that this generation will need to be involved in helping create the massive social changes that lie ahead.
Clinton took a break from the Clinton Foundation festivities in New York on Wednesday to discuss this generation and other topics close to her heart, including education, women’s rights and Americorps, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year.
She addressed the opportunities that Americorps brings to its volunteers: a record of service and an advantage with potential employers who praise graduates of the programs. The program received more than 580,000 applications last year for 80,000 spots. And although it’s funding challenges through Congressional appropriations, it’s looking to next year to launch a campaign to raise awareness of its successes and learnings.
Clinton says the biggest challenge for young people and activism is political engagement and voting. She cited low turnout numbers in New York’s primary as a recent example of the lack of involvement in the political process, especially with younger people.
“It’s important that young people register to vote and get engaged in understanding debates… and understanding how government votes and who decisions are made in this country,” she said. Clinton also said our government should take a greater roll in educating Americans in the political process of how Congress works to increase engagement and activism.
“I think it’s really great when Bono talked about (RED) and that they’ve mobilized more than $200 million of mostly small-dollar consumer purchases (to support The Global Fund),” she said. “But north of 95 percent of the contributions to The Global Fund come from governments – and so who is in office and what they do directly impacts whether or not the United States government is going to decide if it’s a priority to get to an AIDS-free generation around the world.”