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Statement on the Repeal of Net Neutrality

Youth Caucus of America is deeply disappointed to see that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has repealed net neutrality regulations, initially implemented in 2015. The FCC voted 3-2 on Thursday to reverse the agency’s decision during the Obama administration. These regulations were made to ensure ISPs treated all web traffic equally.

Before net neutrality regulations, Internet Service Providers (ISP) were able to restrict customer access to certain content providers. This happened in 2012 when AT&T blocked access to Apple FaceTime unless customers were willing to pay for a different internet plan, quoting concerns that FaceTime would overstress their mobile networks. The recent vote to repeal net neutrality will allow ISPs to deliver different content at different speeds and potentially charge content providers or consumers more for faster delivery speeds, a concept called paid prioritization. If ISPs begin to charge consumers for accessing content at reasonable speeds, it could hurt small businesses and low income communities that cannot afford these charges. And although the 2010 FCC Open Internet Order still prevents ISPs from blocking or discriminating lawful content, this repeal could hurt all Americans because it has the ability to limit a truly open and free internet.

The net neutrality repeal isn’t scheduled to take effect until some time next year. The issue will likely see legal action, and Congress may step in via the Congressional Review Act or alternative legislation. We encourage all readers to contact your officials and share your thoughts on this repeal.

Written by: Karen Orona


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An Interview with Admiral James Stavridis

Admiral James Stavridis is a former Supreme Allied Commander of Nato and current Dean of the Fletcher School of International Relations at Tufts University. YCA recently stopped by his office in Medford, Massachusetts to discuss his experience as a public servant and to understand his perspective regarding today’s politically active youth.

Admiral Stavridis grew up in a military family—his father was an active duty Marine Corps officer before becoming an academic. This inspired him to follow a similar path by serving in the Navy for over thirty years, then transitioning into an academic career. Admiral Stavridis noted that his experiences working in the military and a college campus have been surprisingly similar, since “education is a fundamental part of the military.” His transition from military to college life was easy because in both careers, he spent much of his time mentoring young people working towards similar goals.

For young people pursuing careers in government and public service, Admiral Stavridis recommends doing well in school, selecting a major you enjoy, and deciding between pursuing international or domestic politics. Students interested in international affairs should study abroad and learn languages, while students interested in domestic politics should work on campaigns and intern on Capitol Hill.

Admiral Stavridis has three basic recommendations for young people looking to become effective civic leaders based on his decades of experience in the military and now running a graduate school. Young people should focus on growing in physical strength, intellectual curiosity, and morality. He noted that “working hard physically is very important, and a very underrated aspect of development.” Intellectual advancement is also vital for young people—Admiral Stavridis recommends “exposing yourself to as many different ideas as you can,” especially by reading. Finally, he emphasized the importance of examining your own values of morality. Since “it is less obvious how you develop the moral qualities that make an individual a good citizen,” he advised young people to find positive role models. For example, college students might find great examples in their peers and teachers.

After the historic 2016 presidential election, Admiral Stavridis has noticed a new dynamic on college campuses among politically inclined students. Young people are putting “more energy into challenging events and policies and causes that are clearly wrong in the mind of the majority of Americans,” like DACA and displays of white supremacy. He noted that “a society is on its way to demise when its young people are not debating and challenging the big ideas.”

Thank you so much to Admiral James Stavridis for speaking with us and sharing such important advice!

Written by Kate Canavan, YCA Editor-in-Chief


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Statement Regarding the #MeToo Movement

For decades, sexual harassment and assault were considered taboo, secretive topics. However, one hashtag aims to change that. The #MeToo movement was started by a simple tweet from actress Alyssa Milano to bring awareness to the often ignored issue of harassment and/or assault. The impact was profound. In the last 24 hours, the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times, a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed. #MeToo not only brought people from around the world together, but it shed light on previously skimmed sexual predation issues, such as that of Weinstein and Cosby. It showed the magnitude of victims, and that there is a lot of work to be done.


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Our Youth Deserve a Second Chance

On behalf of Youth Caucus of America, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617, introduced by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). The bill would expand the qualifying age for expungement of a simple possession conviction for nonviolent, low-level, first-time drug offenders. The Renew Act would increase age eligibility to allow qualifying offenders under the age of 25 to seek an expungement order.

A criminal record is often a barrier for those who are seeking a second chance to become productive, taxpaying citizens. One bad decision can prevent an individual from obtaining a decent paying job or financial aid for college to advance their education. It can even make it difficult for a first-time offender to put a roof over his or her head.

Under current law, 18 U.S. Code § 3607(c), offenders under the age of 21 can apply for and receive an expungement order for a first-time, nonviolent offense. The National Conference of State Legislatures Neurobiological Development Research states, that the brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25, affecting decision-making and risk assessment abilities. Generally, the parietal lobes of the brain fully develop by age 16, but the temporal lobes are still developing and the frontal lobe continues to develop into the early 20s.

The Renew Act would increase age eligibility to allow qualifying offenders under the age of 25 to seek an expungement order. The criminal record of an eligible individual would still be available to the Department of Justice if necessary for future proceedings.
The Renew Act allows for opportunities for young people who have made a mistake to move on with their lives and become productive, taxpaying citizens.
For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617.

Coby J. Owens
Chief Executive Officer
Youth Caucus of America


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DREAMers Facing a Nightmare

On August 15, 2012, thousands of young adults in the United States were ecstatic. They were finally going to be given a chance to live freely without worry of deportation. Since then, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has helped nearly 800,000 young adults get a license, go to school, and work.

“DACA has improved my life in so many ways. DACA has allowed me to finally have a driver’s licence, to have a better paying job allowing me to be financially stable, and allowed me to keep moving forward on anything I put my mind into.” Oscar, 25, said.

Unfortunately, on September 5th, 2017, these DREAMers faced uncertainty once again. The Trump administration announced that the DACA program was ending and it was up to Congress to save it.

“It was like my whole world stopped. Everything that I had worked so hard for these past couple of years was about to be taken from me. I was absolutely heartbroken.” Stephanie, 22, said.

The DACA program was established by the Obama administration in June of 2012. The purpose of DACA is to help protect young immigrants who were brought here before 16 years old from deportation.

“I came to the United States when I was 9 months old. I never knew I was any different. I grew up singing the National Anthem, playing in my school band, and watching That’s So Raven. I was like any other American girl… or at least I thought I was.” Stephanie said.

For a lot of these DREAMers, the United States is all they’ve ever known. They grew up in our neighborhoods, went to our schools, played on our sports teams with us. These DREAMers grew up thinking they were American.

“When I first found out I was Undocumented it was as I was starting my Sophomore year in High School. I would see all of my school friends getting their driver’s permit and I found out I wasn’t able to because I didn’t have a social security number like everybody else did.” Oscar said.

“My life before DACA was pretty confusing and I was very lost and afraid for my family. My whole childhood and teenage years, I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2009, a year before I graduated HS, an anti-dreamer law passed (Proposition 300) meaning that every undocumented student would no longer be able to apply and receive any public scholarships and also meant we would have to pay out of state tuition I saw how that impacted my older brothers and my family, which I knew I had no opportunities to pursue a higher education.” Oscar said.

“In 2010, as I was graduating high school, an Anti-Immigrant law passed the senate (SB-1070) which allowed any police officer to pull you over for having the “suspicion” that you were undocumented. My family and I decided to move to a different state to avoid anyone of us being deported. At that time DACA did not exist and me recently graduating high school I had no ambition, no hope, and no guidance as to how to continue with my education, or my life in general.” Oscar said.

These students have faced obstacles all their lives. They’ve had to live in fear and uncertainty of the future.

“When I was 13 years old, my father was deported. He hadn’t committed any crime, he was pulled over for a broken taillight. I haven’t seen my father in nine years. Everyday I lived in fear that the same thing would happen to me. I was terrified and I was so young… no child should have to live like this. The DACA program gave me everything. It allowed me to do things I never thought I could.” Stephanie said.

Before DACA, and even today DREAMers have had give things up because of their citizenship status.

“The lack of having citizenship here in the U.S. has prevented me to serve in the military. In 2010, while in HS, I enrolled in ARMY training, went through all my PT training, was top of my class and had the highest scores on my pre-asvab test which determined my future in the military. Unfortunately, when the time came to fill out my paperwork for enrollment, I told my sargent I was undocumented and he told me I wasn’t able to serve.” Oscar said.

Not only has the end of DACA put thousands of DREAMers in fear of deportation, it has also put them in fear of deportation for their entire family.

“More than anything, I fear for my parents. The end of DACA not only does it put me in the scope of deportation but also my parents could end up getting deported as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has all of my information.” Oscar said.

Although many people believe DREAMers would be too scared to go out and let their voice be heard, that is definitely not the case. There has been rallies all over the country after the Trump Administration announced the end of DACA.

“Although we are scared and we put ourselves at risk when we raise our voice, our voice is the one thing that could help save us. It is so important we fight, not just for DREAMers but ALL undocumented immigrants.” Stephanie said.

“Keep fighting, keep pushing everyone to take action when needed. To lobby our legislators and all elected officials to pass not only the DREAMAct but also an Immigration Reform to fix this broken immigration system. Come out of the shadows because if no one knows your situation, no one is going to be able to help when in need.” Oscar said.

There are many misconceptions about DREAMers. Many don’t realize how much they do for our country. They pay taxes, and contribute in our economy and get such little in return. All these young immigrants want to do is live in the country in which they grew up.

“We don’t take or steal anyone’s job, undocumented immigrants do not receive federal benefits programs. They cannot receive Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, Medicare, or food stamps.” Oscar said.

DREAMers make America great. They are a generation of youth with tremendous potential; they will stop at nothing to finally live at peace in a place they have always called home.

By Karen Orona, Environmental Committee Research Analyst


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In Response to SB. 1 (Evidence Based School Funding)

Youth Caucus of America is committed to our nation’s public education system. In accordance to our policies, Youth Caucus of America is proud to announce its support for the Evidence Based School Funding Act, which changes how school funding is allocated. We strongly support SB. 1, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar and Representative William Davis, because the quality of a child’s education should not be determined solely on geographic location. Currently, wealthier districts spend up to $30,000 per student, while the less the poorer districts only spend around $8,000 per student. By implementing SB 1, a bill that allocates funds to schools based off how much each district can afford to pay in property taxes and what needs each district has (low-income, ELL, special needs, etc), the Illinois State Government will be be able to better provide their schools with the funding for the resources needed to supplement education programs. Simply put, SB. 1 will level the educational playing field, and ensure that all public schools and students receive the funding they need to succeed. Youth Caucus of America strongly advocates the implementation of this legislation.

With enthusiasm, Youth Caucus of America proudly supports SB. 1, and thus the appropriate allocation of funding for public schools.

Rekha Iyer, Policy Director

 

Michael Chen, Research Analyst

Noah Tang, Research Analyst


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Budget Cuts to Clean Energy Will Cut Jobs

Under a bill approved by the House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) would suffer funding cuts by about half, falling from $2.1 billion to $1.1 billion. The EERE’s mission, according to its website, is to “create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy. Its vision is a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy.” The office has worked towards federal carbon emissions and energy reduction policies, and cutting these programs leads to higher energy bills for Americans, fewer jobs in the clean energy sector, and increased harm to U.S. manufacturer innovation, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

To date, third-party assessments of the EERE’s research have found that the office’s investment of $12 billion has yielded a net economic benefit of more than $230 billion, with an overall annual return of more than 20 percent. EERE housing initiatives like SunShot would suffer under budget cuts. SunShot, along with other programs, has worked to reduce solar integration costs by 60%. The Weatherization Assistance Program, another element of the EERE, has worked to reduce energy costs for low-income households through improvements in home energy efficiency.

Several senators, including ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), have criticized these proposed cuts in clean energy research. In a statement responding to this budget proposal, Cantwell said it would “devastate an emerging sector of our economy by killing thousands of clean-energy jobs all over the country.” Under the cuts, the EERE would focus its attention and limited resources on the early stages of research and development and leave the later stages of research, development, and commercialization to the private sector. Members of the clean energy sector have expressed disappointment in the new budget, claiming that renewable energy has been a nonpartisan priority for both parties and that investments in clean energy have been paying off. Under the administration’s budget cuts, the EERE will specifically lose about 30 percent of its employees from the 2016 fiscal year. The administration has said that the remaining staff  “will ensure continuity of the essential oversight activities for EERE’s project portfolio and maintaining proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

YCA does not support these proposed budget cuts to programs provided by the EERE because of the detrimental impact on the economy and the environment that will ensue. It is essential that the administration prioritizes clean energy.

 

Angela Chon

Chief Financial Officer


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The System That Has Been Failing College Students

Youth Caucus of America has been working to gain support from several organizations and both local, and federal representatives to gain increased support for The Campus Accountability and Safety Act. This legislation was introduced on April 5 2017 by New York representative Carolyn Maloney, and currently has a 13% prognosis of being enacted, predicted by Skopos Labs. Campus sexual assault in the United States contributes to a culture of fear and inefficient administrative action which is spreading across various college campuses in the United States. Every student that arrives on a college campus has dreams, hopes, and visions of changing the world or creating a life for themselves all of which can be derailed with the emotional, physical, and psychological trauma that occurs due to rape. While there are thousands of stories that can be quoted or linked to, this is simply one of those stories that accentuate a paradoxical reality which many live in where rape is looked down upon but where coming out with an accusation is met with limited and unjustifiable levels of action.  

“The first time I was raped in college—-because it happened three times before I finally graduated you know—I had just went out one night for fun. I’m a dancer you know, and I loved going to the clubs at U of I to just dance all night with my friends. I’d wear my favorite dresses and look really nice, and just dance my heart out on that floor. The first time I was raped, I hadn’t even kissed a guy before. I stepped out of the club to make a phone call, and I didn’t notice that a guy—a male student at U of I—had followed me. He just came up to me and grabbed me by the waist and shoved me into his car. I screamed, and I told him no. He didn’t care. He knew what he was doing.”

She reported the first incident to her RA, and her case was not given any attention from the staff at the University or law enforcement officials. She lived in fear and embarrassment until she finally mustered the courage to report the third incident. Unfortunately, the system failed her, and she got no support, and no justice. This is why Youth Caucus of America is proud to announce its support for the Campus Accountability and Safety Act so as to prevent the injustice in this story from happening again and to help limit the incidents of rape, sexual assault, and sexual violence across campuses in the United States.


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Campus Safety and Accountability Act Action

Your voice matters! Call on your Representatives to take action. Contacting your representative is easy and takes about 5 minutes.

  1. Get informed: learn about CASA.
  2. Contact your representatives by phone, email, or direct mail to voice your support for CASA.
  3. Spread the word about CASA. Use the hashtag #Takenoforanswer  and #YCA to spread the word.

Learn more about CASA

In 2016, The Bureau of Justice Statistics released the Campus Climate Validation Study confirming that approximately 1 in 4 college women and 1 in 16 college men are sexually assaulted before they graduate. Yet, 41% of colleges and universities recently surveyed have not conducted a single investigation into an allegation of sexual violence on their campus in the past five years.

Every student has the right to an education free from violence. If a student experiences violence, that student deserves quality support, and a transparent and fair investigation process.

The bipartisan Campus Safety and Accountability Act (CASA) ensures that allegations of campus sexual assault cases are handled with professionalism and fairness. CASA’s provisions are also designed to protect and empower students.

Current federal law doesn’t substantially prohibit colleges and universities from under-reporting incidences of sexual assault. CASA flips the incentives for colleges and universities and makes reporting sexual assault part of the solution, not the problem.


Key Talking Points:

  1. Establishing new campus resources and support services for student survivors. Colleges and universities would be required to designate Confidential Advisors to assist survivors of sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Confidential Advisors would coordinate support services and accommodations for survivors, provide information about options for reporting and provide guidance or assistance – at the direction of the survivor – in reporting the crime to campus authorities and/or local law enforcement. Schools would no longer be allowed to sanction students who report sexual violence but reveal a non- violent student conduct violation, like underage drinking, in good faith.
  2. Ensuring minimum training standards for on-campus personnel
    The lack of training for campus personnel can interfere with sexual assault investigations and student disciplinary proceedings, resulting in negative outcomes for both survivors and accused students. This legislation would ensure that everyone from the Confidential Advisor to those responsible for investigating and participating in student disciplinary proceedings would receive specialized training, so that they would have a firm understanding of the nature of these crimes and their effect on survivors

Creating historic new transparency requirements

  1. Students at every university in America would be surveyed about their experience with sexual violence. The new biennial survey would be standardized and anonymous. Colleges and universities would publish the results online, and the Department of Education would be required to publish the names of all schools with pending investigations, final resolutions, and voluntary resolution agreements related to Title IX with respect to sexual violence
  2. Requiring a uniform discipline process and coordination with law enforcement
    All schools would use one uniform process for campus student disciplinary proceedings and would no longer be allowed to have athletic departments or other subgroups handle complaints of sexual violence against members of that subgroup. Both survivors and accused students would receive notification if schools proceed with a disciplinary process regarding an allegation of sexual assault within 24 hours of such decision being made. Colleges and universities would be required to enter into memoranda of understanding to clearly delineate responsibilities and share information with each local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to report to a campus as a first responder
  3. Establishing enforcable Title IX penalties and stiffer penalties for Clery Act violations. Schools that do not comply with certain requirements under the bill may face a penalty of up to 1 percent of the institution’s operating budget. Currently, the only allowable penalty is the loss of all financial aid, which is not practical and has never been done. The bill would increase penalties for Clery Act violations to up to $150,000 per violation, from the current penalty of $35,000 per violation.

CASA will be reviewed by senators in the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. The support of these senators is key in the passage of the full bill. HELP Committee Members:
Lamar Alexander, Chair (R-TN)  Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Michael F. Bennet (D-CO)           Richard Burr (R-NC)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)         Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA)
Susan Collins (R-ME)                 Michael B. Enzi (R-WY)
Al Franken (D-MN)                     Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)              Todd Young (R-IN)
Maggie Hassan (D-NH)              Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Patty Murray (D-WA)                  Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT)
Rand Paul (R-KY)                      Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)               Tim Scott (R-SC)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)          Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

 

CASA will be reviewed by representatives in the Sub Committee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations of the House Judiciary Committee. The support of these representatives key in the passage of the full bill. HELP Committee Members:

Trey Gowdy, Chairman (R-SC4)              Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX18)

Louie Gohmert (R-TX1)                           Ted Deutch (D-FL22)

Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI5)                    Karen Bass (D-CA38)

Steve Chabot (R-OH1)                            Cedric Richmond ( D-LA2)

Ted Poe (R-TX2)                                      Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY8)

John Ratcliffe (R-TX4)                              Ted Lieu (D-CA33)

Martha Roby (R-AL2)                               Jamie Raskin (D-MD8)

Mike Johnson (R-LA4)

While we need the support of the senate and house as a whole, the members of this committee are particularly important to contact in the bill’s current stage. If you live in the states of any of the senators or representatives above, please consider contacting them to stress the importance of this legislation. Please reach out to us at info@youthcaucusamerica.org  if you have any questions.

*Please note that some of the senators and representatives above have already signed on as co-sponsors for CASA. We thank them for their leadership.

Phone:

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/take-action/contact-your-representative/

  1. “click this link”(above) to find your Representatives and Senators
  2. Make a call during normal business hours or leave a message
  3. Express your support for CASA using these talking points:
    1. 1 in 4 women and 1:16 men will be sexually assaulted before they graduate
    2. Despite the prevalence of campus sexual assault – only 41 percent of schools have investigated an allegation of assault in the last five years
    3. CASA improves school’s support systems for survivors of assault through ensuring the presence of  confidential advisors, support services, and training for relevant personnel
    4. CASA ensures schools are transparent and fair in how they handle allegations of assault
    5. CASA incentivizes schools to take action on this issue by implementing meaningful sanctions for violating Title IX or the Clery Act

Email

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/take-action/contact-your-representative/

  1. “click this link”(above) to find your Representatives and Senators
  2. Copy and paste email template
    1. Dear Honorable Representative or Senator __________,

I am writing to express support for the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA). In 2016, The Bureau of Justice Statistics released the Campus Climate Validation Study stating that approximately 1 in 4 college women and 1 in 16 college men are sexually assaulted before they graduate. Yet, 41 percent of colleges and universities recently surveyed have not conducted a single investigation into an allegation of sexual violence on their campus in the past five years. The bipartisan Campus Safety and Accountability Act (CASA) ensures that allegations of campus sexual assault cases are handled with professionalism, transparency, and fairness. CASA’s provisions are designed to better protect and empower students. CASA ensures survivors have access to resources and services through confidential advisors. These advisors can connect survivors with the accommodations they need while maintaining their autonomy — allowing them to report when they are ready. CASA facilitates reporting by establishing amnesty for students who report sexual violence but report a non-violent student conduct violation like underage drinking. CASA ensures that relevant on-campus personnel are adequately trained to respond to incidences of sexual violence and understand their effects on survivors. CASA requires a uniform discipline process and coordination with law enforcement to ensure cases are handled in a timely, fair manner. CASA holds institutions accountable for protecting students and supporting survivors through establishing enforceable Title IX penalties and stiffer penalties for Clery Act violations. I ask that you support CASA because every student has a right to an education free from sexual violence.

  1.  Add personal if you would like
  2. CC info@youthcaucusamerica.org

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Three Ways for Youth to Get Involved in Politics this Summer

Summer vacations are a great time for lounging by the beach, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying a well-earned break from schoolwork. It is also the perfect time to become more involved in government and ensure that the voices of youth are heard. From advocating for changes in your school for the upcoming year to participating in the national healthcare debate, here are some tips for how to participate in politics this summer:

Get Educated!

Just because you are on summer vacation doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. Spend your extra free time reading up on current events and learning about areas of policy in which you are interested.

Get Involved Locally!

Unless there is a special election, there won’t be any federal elections occurring in your area this summer. However, there might be local and state level elections! Take this opportunity to become involved in local politics—local government has some of the most significant impact on your everyday life.

Get Active Nationally!

Your members of Congress and Senators will most likely be spending a lot of time in their districts this summer, especially during recesses like in August. Go to town halls, write letters, and make phone calls to make your voice heard in Washington!

Bonus: Apply to YCA!

YCA is always looking for dedicated and passionate youth to join our team. Whether you are interested in public relations or specific areas of policy, summer is a great time to become involved with our organization.

Apply Here! http://youthcaucusamerica.org/join-us/ 

By Kate Canavan


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