Women and Non-Binary Youth are at the Forefront: The Gendered Leadership of Grassroots Youth Organizing Groups
By Dr. Veronica Terriquez, Nyereath Nhial, Jennifer Soto
Celebrating 2021’s Women’s History Month, this research brief draws attention to the young Black Indigenous and Youth of Color (BIPOC) who have been at the forefront of recent grassroots youth organizing efforts. Young women and individuals who do not identify along the gender binary have been well represented among those who have coordinated mutual aid efforts during the pandemic, fought for racial justice, and advanced other social justice campaigns. The leadership of these young people tends to be characterized by inclusivity and concern for diverse segments of their communities who are negatively impacted by social injustices.
Since the 1990s, many 501(c)3 nonpartisan grassroots youth organizing groups have been important training grounds for young social movement leaders. These groups engage adolescents and young adults in nonpartisan campaigns for educational equity, environmental justice, health equity, immigrant rights, racial justice, and other issues affecting low-income and marginalized communities. Some also run sophisticated campaigns to get out the vote. These groups number over 300 in the United States today, and nearly 40 percent of them are based in California. Largely located in immigrant, refugee, and BIPOC communities, these groups build on decades-long legacies of community organizing strategies that engage those most affected by social injustices to become part of the solution.
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Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice
Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.
Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity
In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.
Social Movements & Governing Power
ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.
In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).
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