Young Invincibles is a youth-focused advocacy organization that is centered on encouraging young people about finding their voices, and using their talents and abilities to tackle issues in the political realm that impact them every day, such as higher education, economic justice, politics, public policy, health insurance, and others. We do this through building a community of young leaders who take action for social change, sharing the stories of young adults, exploring cutting-edge policy research and analysis, providing tools for our generation to make smart economic choices, and encouraging mission-driven social enterprise ventures. YI is headquartered in Washington DC, and has branches in California, Colorado, and New York. They have a special Young Advocates program that employs a group of Advocates between the ages of 18 and 34 in the Fall and Spring semesters every year, where they develop skills and gain experience in the core functions of advocacy and public policy work, as well as building their overall professional skills. The program includes Advocates overseeing on-the-ground community engagement, such as planning state and local events to educate and facilitate discussions on pressing issues affecting our generation.
For the August 11th conference, I was selected by my supervisors and top staff at the New York Young Invincibles program to represent the NY YI program at the “Raising The Bar” Summit to be hosted by the Department of Education. I would represent New York, while 2 other YI participants would represent California and Colorado respectively. We were to speak before almost 50 college presidents and administrators, from the student leader perspective, on how they could best support student welfare and basic needs. We spoke on a panel about advocacy efforts that we each contributed to in our home states and advised the audience (college administrators from all over the country and Department of Education staff and officials) on how they can work with their students to enact broader-reaching change that goes beyond their campuses. They wanted student activists who worked on campus-based basic needs efforts, and state/systemwide policy change — which I was happy to have done.
Participating in student government in the 2021-22 school year as an elected official, interning at Hunter’s NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group) chapter, and serving as a Young Advocate at Young Invincibles (amongst other activities) have all molded me into the activist/leader I envision myself to be today. I testified before the City Council Higher Education Committee about the needed funding, expansion, and implementation of Single Stop, a program that helps students access nutrition benefits, health insurance, legal and financial services, and tax preparation assistance at CUNY schools. Currently it exists at all CUNY community colleges and a select few senior colleges. I also traveled to Albany and spoke to elected officials (Senators and Assembly members) on the importance for passing the New Deal for CUNY Bill, testified before elected officials virtually for Higher Education Action Week, and helped lead a group-led campaign in my Young Advocates program, testifying and vouching for the banning of college transcript withholding in NY. It was a huge honor to be a part of these victories and movements, and I spoke about them with Summit audience members. At the end, I received a great applause!