The Young Invincibles (YI) is an organization that was established in the summer of 2009 to promote the healthcare reform legislation that congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama were seeking to pass. To aid that cause, YI collected and publicized the personal stories of more than 1,200 young people who allegedly had experienced some type of difficulty in obtaining adequate health insurance. The organization’s initial pro-reform campaign, titled “Y.I. Want Change,” was launched at a press conference where then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the “dependent-coverage” provision of the proposed healthcare bill, a provision that ultimately would allow some 2 million young adults to be covered by their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. By the time YI was one year old, it had grown from a small group operating out of a single law-school cafeteria, into a national organization.
Focusing chiefly on the concerns of 18-to-34 year-olds, YI today conducts a number of campaigns designed to “educate, inform and mobilize our generation” and “change the status quo.” Its signature program is the “Getting Covered” initiative, whose main purpose is to inform young adults and their families about the aforementioned dependent-coverage provision. Among the partner organizations that collaborate with YI on this campaign are: Campus Progress, the Center for Community Change, the Children’s Defense Fund-NY, Choice USA, Families USA, Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood, the Universal Health Care Action Network, and US PIRG.
Another of YI’s top priorities is its Higher Education campaign, which contends that many young people cannot access “a high-quality affordable education” because of skyrocketing tuition costs coupled with “steep state cuts in our public colleges [and] universities.” The remedy, according to YI, is increased taxpayer funding for tuition-assistance programs.
YI’s Jobs & Economy initiative regularly publishes policy reports designed to address the high unemployment rate of 16-to-24-year-olds nationwide. One such report, produced in conjunction with the National Priorities Project in November 2012, denounces America’s large expenditures on national defense; vehemently opposes “tax cuts for the wealthy”; and complains that “the federal government has consistently slashed funding for employment and training services that prepare young people for the 21st century economy.”
YI’s Entrepreneurship program calls for federal forgiveness of young business owners’ student loans; a doubling of the capital available through the federally administered Small Business Association (SBA) micro-loan program; outreach efforts designed to “ensure that intermediaries are not putting up barriers” that prevent young entrepreneurs from “accessing” SBA dollars “due to lack of credit or collateral”; programs to help “young small businesses” more efficiently “procure” federal government funds; and an expansion of “federal incentives for education in entrepreneurship at both secondary and post-secondary levels.”
One of YI’s co-founders, Ari Matusiak, is a graduate of Brown University and Georgetown University Law Center. A former fellow on Senator Edward Kennedy‘s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Matusiak is currently the director of private-sector engagement at the White House, coordinating the Obama Administration’s interaction with the business community.
YI’s other co-founder is Aaron Smith, a graduate of Swarthmore College (2004) and Georgetown University Law Center (2010). Smith formerly interned in the office of Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen (Maryland); worked for the DC-based nonprofit group Emmaus Services for the Aging; and (in 2006) served as chief legislative aide for the city council president of his native Yonkers, New York.
Other leading YI officials likewise have ties to leftist organizations and major Democratic Party figures. For instance, State outreach coordinator Jasmine Hicks was selected in 2010 to be an “emerging leader” with the Congressional Black Caucus, where she interned in the Obama White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Deputy policy and organizing director Amy Lin served as a development coordinator at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and as a legislative assistant in Senator Edward Kennedy’s Labor Policy Office. Deputy director Jen Mishory was once a law clerk for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Judiciary subcommittee. And Policy and research director Rory O’Sullivan once interned for then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
YI’s present and past partner organizations include, among others, AARP, AFSCME, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Center for Community Change, Choice USA, Demos, Families USA, HCAN, MomsRising, the NAACP Youth and College Division, the National Council of La Raza, the National Partnership for Women and Families, the National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood, Rock the Vote, the Service Employees International Union, USAction, and US PIRG.
Fiscally sponsored by the Center for Community Change, YI receives financial support from a number of charitable foundations, including Atlantic Philanthropies, the Boston Foundation, the California Community Foundation, the California Endowment, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rappaport Family Foundation, and the Seattle Foundation.