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Young People & Students

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Students and young Americans have long played an important role in the Democratic Party—perhaps never more so than in Barack Obama's historic campaign. While young people and students represent our next generation of leaders, they realize that we can’t wait to tackle America’s foremost challenges. Just as we learned in 2008, students know that if we work hard enough, and if we fight long enough, we can finally bring change to Washington and to our country.

Over the past 18 months, students and young people have embodied the spirit of that movement for change—from their work on health reform to student loan reform and more.

The Democratic National Committee’s Youth Coordinating Council—commonly known as the Youth Council—was made an official council of the Democratic National Committee in December 2005, with a goal of increasing involvement of young people in the Democratic Party.

Every year since its creation, the Youth Council has become more and more active and has helped maintain high participation rates and foster greater political involvement. Young people have had new opportunities to become more active with local and national Democrats, and help shape our party across the country for decades to come.

Recent Updates
  • 50 years later voting rights still threatened

    Nearly 50 years ago, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, to outlaw discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and more. The law strengthened voting rights and pushed for an end to racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and in public places. Unfortunately, today's GOP retreats headlong from the battle towards greater equality. In fact, many Republican are trying to sabotage or undermine crucial protections in the Civil Rights Act.

    Read More
  • The 2013 HOPE Institute: A Fellow’s Story

    What does it mean to have hope? For me, hope is about everyday people who want to bring change to American public policy. I believe in the progressive message embodied by the Democratic Party and President Obama. Barack Obama inspires me because he works to create a better America for people like me. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised that these people would no longer be ignored and that all Americans would have access to affordable health care. Today, that promise is coming true.

    As the recipient of a heart and kidney transplant, I am one of the many Americans whose fight for quality, affordable health insurance changed when PresidentObama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. That moment proved to me that we have to make sure the right leaders are elected to bring the change that we desire. In 2008, I volunteered on the Obama for America campaign to elect Barack Obama and give millions of Americans like me the peace of mind health care coverage brings. Today I am no longer a hopeful high school student and campaign volunteer; now I am a Hope Fellow with the Democratic National Committee. I was encouraged to apply by a friend and little did I know how much this experience would change my life.


    The Hope Institute began as an initiative to engage and train the next generation of political leaders who come from underrepresented communities. I met with young leaders from across the country, and we were all inspired to begin careers in civic service through political activism. Collectively, we learned that politics is not about winning an election but making a commitment to improving and shaping a better world for future generations.

    The Fellows heard from leaders including Chair of the DNC, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Vice Chair for Voter Protection and Registration Donna Brazile, and former Obama Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter. In addition, we received trainings on effective community organizing from Democratic strategists. The education we received was priceless, and we left with a determination to become future change makers and political officials. Each of us will take the skills learned from the Hope Institute to initiate social and political change in our own communities. Change starts with young people like me, and the Hope Institute gave me the platform to change the world.

  • Hope Institute: Why I’m a Democrat

    Today we asked participants in the Hope Institute (a crash course in politics for 40 young adults from underrepresented communities) to share why they're a Democrat in 140 characters. Here's what they had to say:

  • Sneak Peek: The Hope Institute

    I can't believe it's finally here! For months, our team's been working around the clock reviewing resumes, arranging flights, coordinating logistics, and securing some of the best and brightest public servants, elected officials and political professionals to serve as mentors and guest speakers.

    Tonight, we're officially kicking off the Hope Institute — a throw back to then-Senator Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" campaign school and the latest effort by Democrats to invest in the next generation of leaders.

    I remember the "Yes We Can" program very well. Launched in 2005, this campaign school trained participants from underrepresented communities on how to break into politics. And it was a huge success.

    When I came to the DNC as the new Finance Director, I thought it was important to do some of the things we did well back in the day. That's why we launched the Hope Institute — a crash course in politics for 40 young adults from underrepresented communities.

    These next two days are going to be intense. We've put together a packed schedule with speakers, networking opportunities, and real life campaign scenarios. And we've got some surprises too.

    I can't wait to meet everyone tonight and look forward to sharing stories from the events. As Democrats, we believe in change that matters. That's why we invest in young people who care.

    If you'd like to invest in the next generation of Democratic leaders:

    chip in now




    P.S. Fun fact: I met my beautiful wife while we were working together on the "Yes We Can" campaign. And that's just one of the many great things to come out of it. Excited to get started!

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Recent Action
Student Loan Debt Repayment Reform
October 28, 2011
In an effort to help put America back to work, President Obama refined the repayment process of federal loans allowing students to lower their rates to 10% of their discretionary income. The proposal will allow 1.6 million students to cap their loan payments making college more affordable than ever.
Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
The majority of the Armed Forces is comprised of Young Americans volunteering to defend this nation and its ideals. However, a sect of the population was forced to hide their sexual orientation in order to do so. President Obama lead the charge to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell allowing gay and lesbian members of the Armed Forces to serve openly for the first time in American history.
Health Care Reform for Young Americans
The Affordable Care Act opened access to health care to millions of Americans. Young Americans in particular saw change in the elimination of preexisting conditions for minors and the ability to stay on a parent or guardian’s health insurance plan until the age of 26 allowing them to finish school or search for a job without worrying about their health care.
Milestones