A Millennial Movement to Reclaim Democracy

May 28, 2015

The Roosevelt Institute, a nonprofit founded on the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, is dedicated to restoring America’s promise of opportunity for all. Its Campus Network was created in 2004 to support young people who are committed to carrying forward the Rooseveltian values through civic action.

An initiative that started on a few campuses a decade ago has evolved into a Millennial movement to reclaim democracy. Today the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network sponsors chapters on over 120 campuses in 38 states.

During the 2014 election cycle in Illinois, the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network joined forces with other nonprofits and student groups to form NextGen Illinois, an initiative aimed at educating students about the corrupting influence of money in democracy.

From May 2014 through September 2014 NextGen IL hosted caucuses all over Illinois where students were invited to “[t]hink of ways to change or improve Illinois’ democratic systems, from the inner workings of government to fair elections and civic innovation. Share your values for state government with young people all over the state, tell us what you think are the biggest problems facing Illinois, and help create potential policy solutions.”

These caucuses culminated in a state convention where student stakeholders gathered to vote on an agenda for the state of Illinois. The results led to the Millennial-Driven Policy Platform for 2015. NextGen IL participants are currently delivering this policy platform to elected officials across the state.

The NextGen Illinois initiative also garnered valuable data on deploying more advanced digital strategies to reach young people where they congregate: online. The data will be used to develop and integrate technology that achieves targeted, high-impact and far-reaching communications on democracy reform and other issues. The goal is to embolden this next generation to act on minimizing the corrupting influence of money in politics.