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Rock the Vote Prepares Youth for Civic Participation

Posted January 21, 2020 by Rock the Vote

This is an update on the winning proposal from the CONNECT category in the 2019 LA2050 challenge.

Since we received the LA2050 grant in the summer of 2019, we've been hard at work developing and building resources, collaborating with key stakeholders, outreaching and promoting opportunities to empower LA youth to be engaged in the civic process.

Rock the Vote is dedicated to building a new generation of Los Angeles civic leaders and volunteers through 1) Democracy Class, a fun, interactive high school curriculum about pre-registering, voting, participating in the census, and getting involved in or running for a seat on a Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, and 2) Create-A-Thons with local artists and activists to develop compelling messages and original content about voting and the census that will be shared nationwide through social media.

Progress so far

After conversations with LAUSD and learning of the CA's Secretary of State Office's plans to push back their high school civic engagement efforts, which typically happen in September and April to January/February, we collectively decided to pivot the push for educators to teach Democracy Class from Fall 2019 to early 2020. The new timeline has allowed us more time to conduct outreach, organize plans with LAUSD, develop incentives for educators, and more. Early 2020 was chosen because it allows educators to build on the natural momentums around the new California primary date of March 3rd and the nearing of the 2020 Census in April.

Instead, our fall activation centered around LA County's Mock Elections in late September, which provided voters with the opportunity to explore the new voter experience through its Voting for All People. We worked with the LA County registrar's office to approve students under 18 to participate in the mock election and promoted the mock election to our LA list and on our social media.

As part of our LA2050 grant we developed an interactive Census curriculum that has been reviewed by The Census Innovation Lab and civic education experts. The lesson plan is specifically designed for high school age individuals in hard-to-count communities. The curriculum features a short explainer video and is interactive, hands-on, answers common questions around the 2020 census. The curriculum can be accessed by signing up for

Thanks to the LA2050 grantee luncheon in the fall, we connected with the City of LA's Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to identify what resources already existed for educating and raising awareness about the city's Neighborhood Councils. We are reviewing these resources and using them to inform the kits we develop for LA teachers to teach about Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Elections.

We built a Democracy Class website specifically designed for our LA efforts to have core curriculum and census curriculum taught in over 90 public high schools and in community centers and after school programs throughout the city. What is Democracy Class, you ask? Democracy Class is a free, nonpartisan curriculum that educates young people about the importance and history of voting and pre-registers and registers them to vote.

Those who sign up will have access to lesson plans featuring:

  • The history and importance of voting
  • Modern-day voting rights
  • The importance of local elections
  • How voting can impact issues in communities
  • The importance of the 2020 Census

Educators or anyone interested can learn more here. Or if you'd like to partner with us reach out to [email protected].

Through our collaborations with the Census Innovation Lab we also developed and soft-launched Creatives for the Count website. The site is a place for creators to submit content to be used by organizations and individuals to share on social media at any time to help us get more LA residents to complete the Census. The website will be home to creative content developed at our LA Create-A-Thon in March, which we will host as part of our LA2050 grant. The Create-A-Thon will be an opportunity for members of the community to join us in creating fun and engaging social media content that can be used to promote why the census is important for every single one of us to complete this April.

What's next for us in completing our LA2050 grant goals?

It's crunch time to get Democracy Class into schools. We'll begin outreach to educators in the coming week, and continue recruiting LA partners and influential voices to help us spread the word.

We're in the process of developing the Neighborhood Council kit to help individuals understand how to run for local office.

And as part of the census awareness efforts in LA we finally have our Create-A-Thon coming up in March. We're in the midst of planning for that now, and we will have more announcements in the coming weeks on how you can attend.