For thirty years the Right Wing has spent tens of millions of dollars investing in their youth leadership. Their support of the infrastructure for their elected officials, candidates, young up-and-comers and thought leaders is a robust and vast array of shadowy Religious Right groups, think tanks and foundations. Wealthy right-wing donors and organizations have poured untold resources into building the conservative movement, including its farm team — training and recruiting young activists who eventually go on to shape our national politics and culture. You know of many of them: Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and none other than Sarah Palin.
PFAW Foundation recognized the need for progressives to engage similarly. To fill a critical gap in our own movement, PFAW Foundation created a set of innovative programs designed to establish a leadership pipeline to give Americans the government and leaders — on all levels — that we deserve.
Young People For: Building the Future Now
For over 30 years, ultraconservatives have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into building an infrastructure that initiates young people into the radical right movement through campus activism, leadership training and career development. Their investments have paid off.
If progressives want to achieve the same sort of political success that the radical right has enjoyed for the past two decades, we’re going to have to do more than just focus on the next round of elections and pay lip service to engaging young people. We must make a serious, long-term investment in our next generation of progressive leaders — now.
In 2004, People For the American Way Foundation launched a strategic, long-term leadership initiative, Young People For (YP4), to invest in the next generation of leaders and build a long-term national network for young progressives. YP4 serves motivated, socially aware, diverse and creative college-age young adults who are emerging leaders on their campuses and in their communities. The program works with them to create positive change in their communities while empowering the newest generations of skilled, progressive leaders who will lead with progressive values, make progress in their communities today, and create sustainable change over the long term. YP4 offers resources, guidance and a wide variety of ongoing opportunities for young leaders to connect with other progressive leaders and organizations, plan and execute projects of their choosing, and learn valuable leadership, communication, organizing, collaboration and advocacy skills. (Read More >)
The Young Elected Officials Network
PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network understands the unique needs of progressive young electeds, and its mission is to unite and support leaders under the age of 35 who share a passion for building communities that reflect the values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity.
Just as the word “progressive” evokes an image of moving forward, the YEO Network aims to help propel young electeds successfully along their path to becoming effective public servants. By exchanging ideas, networking with like-minded elected officials, developing leadership skills, and connecting with policy development organizations and think tanks, members are empowered to transform their political vision into progressive action.
The YEO Network provides incredible value to its members all across the country, be they mayors, school board members, city council members or state legislators who are looking to achieve the most effective progressive leadership. (Read More >)
Front Line Leaders Academy
The Front Line Leaders Academy (FLLA) is a premier campaign leadership development program offered every year by the Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network and Young People For (YP4) to 20 talented young people from across the country. FLLA provides prospective candidates and campaign leaders the ability to learn from successful political campaign professionals.
For six months FLLA works with young leaders and provides trainings on a wide range of leadership development and political skills. Fellows receive training on the five core competencies of political campaigns: how to be an effective candidate, campaign manager, finance director, communication director and field organizer. This campaign and leadership development program offers intense trainings for young leaders who demonstrate the potential and desire to run for office or take on a leadership role within a campaign. Young leaders selected for the program participate in a series of workshops led by Young Elected Officials and campaign experts.
Several FLLA graduates have gone on to elected office, using the training, resources and close connections made through Young People For and the Young Elected Officials Network to advance progressive policies, in their states and localities, true to our core constitutional values. (Read More >)
African American Religious Affairs
The Religious Right has been trying for decades to make inroads with African Americans through the church. Their goals have been to achieve greater success on their issues and at the ballot box by chipping away at the African American support of progressives while attracting what support they can for right-wing causes with religious rhetoric. Early African American outreach attempts by the Far Right focused on desperation around public education conditions in some African American communities and tried to attract African American support for private school vouchers (funded by public dollars). But in recent years, the focus has been in the religious arena on “culture war” issues — particularly gay rights. Changing attitudes about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality in the African American church is just one of the important roles PFAW’s African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA) and PFAW Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) plays.
Our networks of ministers include some of the most dynamic, savvy and effective religious organizers in the country. They work proactively to bring a prophetic voice to the pressing moral issues of the day. Our ministers organize around five core issues central to the African American community: civic participation, economic justice, equal justice, health care and public education. Recently, members of both the AAMIA and AAMLC have been among the faith leaders on the front lines speaking out for the fair treatment of immigrants and comprehensive immigration reform. (Read More >)
Thank you for taking the time to read about some of the critical leadership programs that make PFAW and PFAW Foundation so unique and so effective at building the progressive movement from within. Your involvement is now adding to our strength, and there is no limit to what we can achieve, together.
All the best,
Michael B. Keegan, President