Getting young people out to the polls has been a historically difficult task. Now, a statewide program is aimed at educating teens even before they can legally cast a ballot.
The program is not specifically geared toward voting, but instead, finding out how to be rooted in your community, how to have professional relationships, conversations, and how to problem-solve by collaborating.
High school students can interview to be a part of a youth council and then they discuss what problems they want to solve in their area.
For example, Ella Wofford was a freshman when she got involved in the youth council in Lake Havasu City. Her team decided to pitch an idea about a teacher wishlist that put supplies in an online system. Parents could then pick what they wanted to donate to the classroom and it would ship directly to the teacher. The pitch won her team $750 to turn the wishlist into a reality.
Wofford is now a junior and is participating in DemocraSeed again this year. She said, even though she does not know exactly what she wants to do for a career yet, she thinks this is preparing her for any career, as well as making a more educated vote.
"I didn't know really anything about my local politics...those are the things that ultimately affect you, usually more than those big policies," Wofford explained. "It doesn't matter if you're interested in a career like that, it's just to be a good citizen, you need to know all these things."
David Martinez III with the Center for the Future of Arizona said along with their team of youth that they work with, they are also connected with ASU Mentor Advisers to help build civic engagement and find a solution to a problem.
"We're really empowering them and showing them that they are a valued voice in their communities, in the state of Arizona," Martinez explained. "And we need them to be connected to their community, to their state, and work with us to create the Arizona that we want."
To learn how your student can apply next year, click here.