I’m very excited for Activate Good! Our funding proposal, Making Volunteerism Go Viral, came in second place at the 2012 Millennial Civic Engagement (MCE) Summit. Our success means that Activate Good will receive capacity-building funds to support the expansion of our new web platform, Volunteer Community 2.0.
As a volunteer on Activate Good’s Board of Directors, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been more proud of our young organization!
At the MCE Summit, I looked on in admiration as our President Amber Smith and Volunteer Coordinator Keith Morris presented our proposal to a crowd of nearly a hundred leaders of the Millennial Generation (loosely defined as people born between the late ’70s and the mid-’90s). Their presentation captivated the audience. During the award ceremony that followed, I was overcome by emotion and choked back a few tears.
I have an overwhelming sense of pride that Activate Good is on the cusp of something BIG.
Our success at the MCE Summit only bolsters our positive momentum this summer. We’ve secured significant funding from a local foundation and partnered with Triangle Business Journal to launch our new Triangle Corporate Volunteer Council. We’ve collaborated with the City of Raleigh, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and more than a dozen of our nonprofit partners for the upcoming event “Activate Raleigh”, a city-wide day of service in remembrance of September 11. Our Activate Schools team expanded Activate Good’s service-learning curriculum to the Wake County’s Young Men’s and Young Women’s Leadership Academies. And now, thanks to this award from mobilize.org, we’ll be able to invest in technology that will further expand our reach by boosting our volunteers’ impact here in the Triangle.
For me, the MCE Summit was more than just a competition. It also served as an opportunity for us to learn from other Millennials who do great work in their communities across America. Amber, Keith, and I attended keynote presentations and skill-building sessions on community organizing, advocacy, entrepreneurship, communication, and fundraising. I have no doubt these skills will prove useful as Activate Good continues to grow.
I enjoyed the interactive discussions the most–conversations in which we brainstormed ways to implement Millennial-led solutions to our nation’s social problems, both inside and outside of the political system. We talked about what the American dream means for our generation. We discussed strategies to spur economic growth, compete in the global economy, improve access to education, and create jobs for young people.
I think Jay Rayford, Founder of RepYourCity.com and community activist in Detroit, said it best: “I used to feel like such a nerd. Now I feel like I’ve come home!”
Over the course of the weekend, a group consensus emerged that our generation needs to find its collective voice at both the local and national level. Regardless of our respective political affiliations, as Millennials we have a unique perspective to offer. We can hold seasoned leaders and elected officials accountable to our generation on causes that matter to us.
In order to affect change, we must be involved in issues affecting our communities.
We can start by engaging our fellow citizens to volunteer. Throughout American history, volunteers have played a vital role in societal change. Women’s suffrage would not have been possible without those who rallied for women’s right to vote. And the Civil Rights movement would not have gained momentum if not for community activists who rallied armies of volunteers for the famous March on Washington.
Volunteering is a proven catalyst for social change. Anyone can be a community leader, regardless of your hometown or your age, your politics, skin color, educational attainment, or even the amount of money in your wallet. We can talk to our neighbors about the causes that are meaningful to us. We can help those in need, and we can reach out to others to encourage them to do the same.
We can activate ourselves and each other to volunteer in the Triangle, in our schools, and in our neighborhoods, and wherever someone needs a helping hand. Because together we are greater than the sum of our parts.
If my message resonates with you, please join me and help Activate Good make volunteerism go viral. Spread the word.