Updated: Mar 24, 2022
Riley’s Way is a foundation that empowers youth leaders to help their communities and make change using kindness. Their dedication to kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection gives young leaders the platform needed to pursue their goals/dreams. Their Kind Leadership Series helps spotlight other organizations that are determined to help youth through kindness and broaden opportunities available in leadership/community building. For this event, they worked with Coalition Z, a youth-led organization that includes the voices of Gen Z in discussions of politics that matter to them and uplifts their voices to help create change. This event (can be viewed through a recording here) highlights how students can be involved in creating meaningful change while being respectful to one another and spotlights Coalition Z’s initiatives where students can find what fits them best. It encourages students to seek out their potential by working in their communities and becoming civically engaged.
This event began with remarks from Laura Kikuchi and Lauren Shenkman from Riley’s Way who introduced talented youth leaders from Coalition Z and described their positions such as chapter leaders, executive, state, and press directors. The youth leaders gave thoughtful insights into how Coalition Z operates and its commitment to engage students in civic-related spaces and connect them to their local government. They mentioned the Theory of Change and how when youth are registered to vote and cast their vote, the majority are determined to vote more. As students become active voters, they are more likely to engage in other civic-related activities in the future. This motivation of more youth engagement is what Coalition Z strides for which helps when combating issues like education, climate, gun reform, housing, and many more! Their four-way approach of voter registration, education, electoral organizing, and legislation defines the work they are doing currently. Students are able to engage in voter drives, campaigns, town halls, or even protests to help amplify their voices and expand their understanding of certain topics. The organization has grown over the years, and it's exciting to see more of their initiatives across the country and how they welcome students in a kind manner. I can't wait to see more!
The Q & A section after the presentation was very helpful to me as a growing youth activist, and I felt respected and heard by the speakers. It was inspiring to hear stories from youth leaders who were committed to Coalition Z. It proves that there are opportunities for students to become maturing activists in their communities. Based on their responses, I understood the importance of starting/supporting initiatives, learning to speak up for ourselves/others, and holding our leaders accountable. I was struck by the respect and kindness the members had for one another, something that is lacking in many political spaces today. I am thankful a community like theirs exists to help students unify around issues that impact them.
Coalition Z’s youth leaders and their advice help set the stage for young individuals to think civically and become potential leaders. It was exciting to hear so many eager questions and I hope the many students who are seeking opportunities take a look at what Coalition Z is doing and stay tuned for upcoming events or initiatives. I appreciate Riley’s Way’s Kind Leadership Series that spotlights organizations youth can take an interest in. You can view their youtube channel for more of their series, and check out their website for other programs to help spread Riley’s Way’s mission of kindness and empathy in order to create long-lasting and positive change!