April 16, 2014

Youth Spreading the Word

On June 15 and June 16, leaders from various youth organizations traveled to Washington, D.C. for a youth conference hosted by The Concord Coalition and the Youth Entitlements Summit (YES), and underwritten by The Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The event aimed to encourage public discourse among the "Millennial generation" about the nation's fiscal challenges and to generate a collective plan of action for grassroots efforts to do the same. 

Last month, at an event for young activists, I found myself on the spot once I mentioned The Concord Coalition’s work on fiscal awareness. A fellow attendant replied, “Look, I’m not trying to be rude, but I just don’t think the debt matters.” Such indifference concerned me until I watched America’s future leaders passionately discussing the need to fix this imbalance to save our economic futures.

On the first day of the conference, we heard from politicians and scholars who are heavily involved in the fiscal policy arena, including the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, John Spratt, the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, and the former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bill Thomas.

On the second day of the conference, members moved beyond policy discussions and determined how to best engage youth in a debate over our nation’s fiscal future. These were accomplished Millenials who had already started their own organizations or who were heavily involved in activism. Energy grew throughout the day as we spoke about social networking, effective communication, and useful tools for mobilizing volunteers. We also talked about ways to integrate our organizations so that we can increase our impact. 

The conference was topped off by a dinner, which featured speakers from the YES Board of Governors, Concord Coalition regional field director Christine Hovde and executive director Robert Bixby. The keynote address was delivered by D. Paul Monteiro, the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. During his remarks, Mr. Monteiro discussed the White House’s efforts to hear youth perspectives from both sides of the aisle on issues concerning our country’s future. 

After attending the conference, I have faith that this group of committed young people will change the perspective of our generation. After a sustained effort, I will no longer have to convince peers that our debt and our fiscal situation matter. Rather, I will be part of this growing movement by the millennial generation to take our future into our own hands. I hope you will join us as we move forward – talk to your friends, talk to your family, and get involved. 

--Emily Goldman, Executive Assistant