Just five days after their high school graduation, former Green Dot Public Schools students were back on buses — but this time there were no classrooms in sight. Instead of desks and teachers, the students faced voting booths and polling place workers. In anticipation for the June California Presidential Primary Election, students had organized and held voter registration events all year.
Get on the Bus! was the final event and was designed to increase voter turnout across our Los Angeles school communities, specifically among a student population of newly registered voters.
Historically, the voices in the communities Green Dot serves are under-represented in the political process. To ensure that all of our families have the opportunity to participate in the upcoming Presidential election, Green Dot Public Schools California hosted a #PartyAtThePolls. With the goal of registering 1,000 individuals, Green Dot built excitement around the major milestone of voting for the first time for students at five of our 11 high schools. #PartyAtThePolls events aimed to spark conversation about civic engagement among thousands of members of our Los Angeles community.
In May, the team behind the Green Dot Votes initiative held pizza parties on high school campuses encouraging students to register to vote. Even those who weren’t yet eligible to vote were in attendance.
“I won’t be voting on June 7th because I’m not 18, but I want to go to see what it’s like so that I can be ready in November.” –Female Student, Ánimo Watts Charter High School.
Get on the Bus
On June 7, the day of the California Presidential Primary election, Green Dot helped more than 120 students, families, and teachers get on the Green Dot bus to Ánimo Watts Charter High School, in South LA, to cast their votes. Upon arrival, volunteers greeted participants, passed out important information and cheered for our voters. In all, with the help of a dedicated cadre of activists and student organizers, 100 first time voters cast their ballots.
“You have to organize to have power and power is participation in the democratic process. Power is what we are demonstrating today!” -Larry Fondation, Director of Community Engagement GDPS
Many people see voting as a private matter, and while voting is an individual choice, it is also a very public action that can affect millions of people. For Green Dot, this means our parents and students. They are our leaders, and they are the ones who are building power across their cities.
They will be the ones to spread the message of civic engagement to their families, friends, and coworkers. They will be the ones to put pressure on elected officials to change policies that do not suit them, and they will be the ones to vote at the polls and exercise their collective voice. Without our parents and students, we cannot change the narrative within public education, and ultimately in our communities.
For some students, the events were more than just a practice in civic engagement; it was for their communities.
“Attending on June 7th is important to me because I have a lot of friends who can’t vote. I have to go to represent them, because it matters to them.” –Female Student, Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School