Young Invincibles: Advocating for Today’s Students

As 2019 comes toward a close, we at Young Invincibles are taking stock of the many efforts we undertook this year to advocate on behalf of young adults. We have done so to advance our mission of empowering young adults aged 18-34 to fully engage in our democracy and achieve economic security. 

We have maintained a consistent voice in support of the comprehensive legislation needed to reauthorize the Higher Education Act to reflect the needs of today’s students and the crushing debt that holds too many young adults back from achieving their dreams. We have worked from both our Washington, DC headquarters and five regional offices across the country to elevate concern with housing and food insecurity across the student population and awareness of the need for high-quality campus-based child care for the nearly one-in-four college students who are also parents. 

A quick look at our efforts this year shows we have led and joined efforts aligned with our mission, always informed by the young adult advocates who guide our work.

Ensuring that higher education institutions adequately support today’s students. YI helped launch the Today’s Students Coalition as a founding Steering Committee member. The Coalition has released fact sheets on issues including FAFSA simplification and Student Hunger and SNAP Eligibility. YI also contributed to and joined the Coalition’s letter to Chairman Bobby Scott of the House Education and Labor Committee in response to his filing the College Affordability Act. The Coalition has received press coverage from outlets including Inside Higher Ed and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. In November, YI provided a diverse set of partners a brief and access to three state roadmaps on expanding support for student parents. Throughout the year, we continued our advocacy for increased funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) program, which supports on-campus child care that can be a critical support for student parents’ degree completion. YI – Northeast also held a successful release event for a new report on student homelessness in New York. 

Protecting student loan borrowers. YI highlighted the borrower protection provisions of the College Affordability Act in both our statement upon the bill’s release and subsequent letter to Chairman Scott. We also highlighted borrower protection, Public Service Loan Forgiveness expansion and protection, and closing the 90-10 loophole that creates a perverse incentive for for-profit institutions to exploit veteran students in pursuit of their higher education benefit dollars. In December, we joined a letter coordinated by the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) calling out the damaging provisions of ED’s new borrower defense rule, which effectively make it impossible for students to gain loan relief after being subjected to fraudulent institutional practices. 

Encouraging voting on college campuses. YI has advocated for the Help Students Vote Act (HSVA), including recommending its inclusion as part of the College Affordability Act in YI’s letter to Chairman Scott. HSVA would require campuses to designate a coordinator of voter registration and information-sharing to encourage participation in our democracy. We believe in the power of young voices being heard through the ballot box. And as more young people vote, their issues and needs will gain more attention among lawmakers who represent them. YI was also a leading coalition member to host the post-election Students Learn, Students Vote Summit in Washington, DC.

We approach 2020 eager to continue our advocacy for young adults, while also having our eyes wide open about the challenging political landscape. Even in this challenging environment, we remain convinced of the power young people bring to advocacy. We believe their stories have the power to change minds, practices, and policies. As political realities change, our commitment to empowering young people will remain as strong as ever.