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Growing Empowered Together (GET) is a new grassroots nonprofit in San Antonio with the mission of inspiring progressive Texas Millennials, Americans born between 1982 and 2000, to vote and to volunteer in their communities.
Like most other nonprofits, GET was born out of a sense of urgent community need. Millennials represent about a third of the electorate, yet many young Texans do not vote. They could rival baby boomers as the most powerful voting block, yet less than 30% of registered Texas Millennials cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election, compared with the nearly 50% of Millennials nationwide. In the 2014 gubernatorial elections, less than 15% of eligible Millennials voted.
Texas Millennials represent the next generation of United States leadership. They are the most racially diverse generation, and they have a unique vision of what they want the U.S. to become. What would cause them to abandon their formidable political powers to realize their collective vision for the U.S.’s future? The two most common reasons that Millennials gave the U.S. Census in 2012 for not voting were “too busy” and “not interested.”
There have been many herculean efforts to mobilize the Millennial vote. More than 200,000 Texans have registered to vote since the 2014 gubernatorial elections, largely due to the efforts of several dedicated and highly accomplished voter registration efforts in the San Antonio area, such as MOVE San Antonio and Battleground Texas. Still, voter turnout remains low, even among registered voters. The challenge of addressing the anemic Millennial turnout in Texas is clearly the apathy itself – and that is where GET focuses its work.
GET developed an out-of-the-box, arts-based approach to inspire more Texas Millennials to want to get informed, get engaged in their communities, and get out to vote. Its premise is that the most politically-engaged Millennials are the best qualified people to motivate their non-voting peers. Using short videos and social media, and by reaching out to progressive Millennials in every nook and cranny of San Antonio, GET aims to give a booming loud voice to a diverse group of the coolest, most politically-engaged Millennials in Texas.
GET produces mini-documentary films of young activists, artists, and influencers in Texas as they speak directly to their non-voting peers on camera about why they vote. Starting Thursday, Oct. 6, look for GET on their new web page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online platforms.
After the launch, GET will begin to release their highly-shareable film clips to get online conversations among young, non-voting Texans started. The original filmed content will be augmented with commentary, artistic expression, educational materials, selfie video and art contests, and information about volunteer opportunities in the San Antonio area.
The GET launch party will be held on Oct. 6 at La Botánica, and you won’t want to miss it. Rosie Castro, community leader and mother of U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) and HUD Secretary and former San Antonio Mayor Julían Castro, will say a few words to help launch the nonprofit. In addition, Millennial leaders Alberto Altamirano of Cityflag and Drew Galloway of MOVE San Antonio will speak briefly about the importance of volunteerism and voting, respectively.
The main focus of the evening’s entertainment will be on GET’s impressive lineup of Millennial poets who will use their powerful voices to motivate more voting and volunteerism among their peers. Rooster Martinez will emcee the event that will include performances by the entire Puro Slam 2016 team, as well as Naomi Sumthinto Say and Dominique Arriaga.
San Antonio’s The Foreign Arm will perform their original music and MOVE San Antonio will be there to register new voters and answer questions. This is the first fundraiser for GET, and there is a suggested $5 donation at the door.
Everyone, regardless of age, is encouraged to come to La Botánica to learn more about GET’s activities. The lack of Millennial engagement in the political process is more than just a side note in a world riddled with pressing concerns. It is emblematic of a floundering democratic process that can only lead to elected leadership that fails to represent the vision for America held by a majority of eligible voters.
Voter apathy results in a downward-spiraling cycle of misrepresentation and political disengagement that further weakens our collective opportunities to make robust community decisions. Ending Millennial voter apathy is an urgent all-American call to action. GET is answering that call. Get to La Botánica on Oct. 6 to learn more and join them.
Top image: Jonathan-David Jones and Denise Hernandez hold up signs at the GET REEL 1 film shoot. Photos by Arlene Mejorado.