Ánimo Venice Charter High School seniors, Peace (left) and Wil (right)
“Voting has the ability to change anything,” says Peace Ikediuba, a senior at Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School. “It doesn’t involve just one person, but a multitude of people advocating for change—legally, through the voting process.”
Ikediuba joined fellow Green Dot students and parents at the United Parents Delegates’ Assembly late last year to continue advocating for cleaner and safer streets, more job opportunities, an end to wage theft, and more opportunities for civic engagement. The assembly was a chance for school delegates and community leaders to identify specific issues concerning their communities in order to guide the ongoing advocacy and organizing efforts of United Parents in the coming year.
Green Dot Votes
Voter participation in the communities Green Dot Public Schools typically serves is historically low. And parents of students at our schools are no exception. Unfortunately, only 1% of all registered Green Dot parents voted in the last general election. In other words, only 14 people of the 1,602 registered Green Dot families actually voted on the issues that directly affected them, their families, and their broader community.
To address the need for more civic engagement among Green Dot families, the Green Dot Votes initiative seeks to register individuals in the community to vote. More importantly, it seeks to create a better understanding of the link between civic engagement and actual policy changes.
“Civic duty should be taken seriously by teens and by young adults, since the issues that they vote for today will be the laws of tomorrow” says Raffa Petruzzi, a sophomore at Ánimo Venice Charter High School. And yes, Raffa is our very own GDPS CEO Marco Petruzzi’s child – the advocate doesn’t fall far from the tree.
As part of the Green Dot Votes initiative, parent-leaders made a pledge to register 1,000 parents and students to vote by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
The voters are in
In less than one year, Green Dot Votes has run voter registration drives at 10 of our 11 high schools in California, and a total of 985 students registered! Based on this impressive progress, Green Dot Votes will surpass our goal of registering 1,000 new voters by Spring 2016.
“To someone contemplating voting, I would tell them to look around,” Wil Castro, a Senior at Ánimo South Los Angeles, told the crowd at the United Parents Assembly. “Then ask, ‘Do you want to see anything change, anything as small as fixing streets, to as big as lowering the crime rate?’'
“The only way of making this change happen is to vote,” Castro added.
Voting and civic life go hand in hand—there is no better way for our communities and the families of our students to reshape and reimagine the future than promoting the power of the ballot box.