In 2005, the leaders of three activist groups—Young People For, the League of Young Voters Education Fund, and the Movement Strategy Center—convened to address “the lack of collaboration and coordination within the [left-wing] youth movement.” This brainstorming initiative gave rise to the creation of the Generational Alliance (GA), a collaboration of 22 national youth organizations dedicated to “building community and collective power for the emerging majority of young people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, and low-income communities—who usually don’t have a seat at the table.”
Specifically, GA trains many staffers of its member organizations to develop the skills that are needed to “fill the leadership development gap” in the progressive movement; creates “cultural spaces” where “young progressive leaders” can advocate on behalf of “historically left-out, underrepresented communities”; and helps organizations “collaborate” more effectively on “advocacy issues they align with.”
The Generational Alliance’s policy priorities include the following:
* GA supports the DREAM Act, legislation that would “make college accessible and affordable to undocumented students” who first came to the U.S. as minors, while also providing them with a “pathway-to-citizenship.”
* GA believes that “high-quality physical and mental health care, including full reproductive health services and prescription drugs, is a right and must be affordable and accessible to all.” Toward that end, the Alliance supports “real health care reform” that would greatly “expand Medicaid,” “extend dependent coverage to age 27,” and provide government-funded healthcare premium subsidies to people earning as much as 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.
* To promote “increased college access and affordability,” GA endorses legislation that would earmark $40 billion in federal funds to increase Pell Grant awards; $3 billion to bolster college access and completion support programs for students; and $10 billion to help “under-funded” community colleges meet their expenses. It also backs federally funded programs designed to help students from “low-income families” increase their college graduation rates.
* GA supports taxpayer-funded programs to train workers—particularly young people hailing from “from disadvantaged communities”—for “green jobs” in the “clean energy economy.” “We need to get serious [about] switching from dirty coal and nuclear power to wind and solar energy,” says GA.
* GA supports the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), legislation that would deprive employees of the right to vote for or against the unionization of their workforce by means of a secret ballot. By GA’s telling, EFCA would “give workers a fair and direct path to form unions through majority sign-up.”
* Asserting that “abstinence-only-until-marriage” education programs “don’t work,” GA supports the Responsible Education about Life Act—legislation that would provide $50 million in state grants for comprehensive sex and sexuality education in K-12 classrooms.
* GA supports the Youth PROMISE Act, a five-year plan that would authorize $2.9 billion in annual federal spending on programs that address “the root causes of crime” by “investing in prevention and intervention rather than in after-the-fact prosecution and incarceration.” Such initiatives would be built around “job training, education counselors, [and] drug rehab.”
* GA believes that the federal government should actively subsidize the housing costs of low-income people. The Alliance also demands that government do everything within its power to punish “predatory lenders and developers” who allegedly seek to exploit borrowers, particularly those from low-income and minority backgrounds.
* GA believes that taxpayer funds should be used to ensure that “every young person in this country” can access “a high-quality, affordable education from pre-school through college.”
* GA contends that the U.S. can achieve “real national security” only by becoming “a respected and respectful member of the global community.” To make this happen, says the Alliance, America must increase the amount of “strategic humanitarian relief” it offers to those in need, and must end its involvement in “torture and other human rights abuses.”
GA member groups include the Center for Progressive Leadership, the Drum Major Institute, Generation Progress (formerly Campus Progress), the League of Young Voters Education Fund, the NAACP Youth and College Division, the National Council of La Raza, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the United States Student Association Foundation. For a comprehensive list of all GA member groups, click here.
GA’s executive director is Carmen Berkley, former new-media specialist at the AFSCME. Berkley has also served as president of the United States Student Association (in 2008), national field director of Choice USA, deputy director of field and turnout for the One Nation Working Together campaign, and regional field director for the NAACP.