How the Philadelphia Media is Prioritizing Youth Civic Engagement

Every Voice Every Vote

<p>PhillyBOLT member Milaj Robinson stands up, clapping,  for fellow youth members of PhillyBOLT at the Philly Youth Voices event surrounded by candidates for mayor and city council along with others | (Kasey Shamis/Bullhorn Photographer)</p>

PhillyBOLT member Milaj Robinson stands up, clapping, for fellow youth members of PhillyBOLT at the Philly Youth Voices event surrounded by candidates for mayor and city council along with others | (Kasey Shamis/Bullhorn Photographer)

As Philadelphia barrels towards its mayoral elections, this highly anticipated race has the potential to impact the lives of countless Philadelphia residents. The Mayoral Democratic Primary, to be held on May 16, 2023, will elect one of the nine Democratic candidates as the representative in the General Election, which will be held on November 7, 2023.

Because of its importance not only to the city of Philadelphia, but to the country as a whole, this election has been getting a lot of attention over the past few months. As a result, one of the key focuses of this attention is the hope to get young people more involved in the civic process. 

Many people, organizations, and instructions from around the city of Philadelphia are making a push to enable young people in Philadelphia to be more informed, active, and seen. 

An example of this is the Lenfest Institute’s "Every Voice, Every Vote" coalition, which aims to mobilize Philadelphia voters for the greater good of the city. This non-partisan group of organizations spans various communities, geographical locations, and political affiliations, all with the main goal of increasing voter turnout throughout the city and making sure that the voice of the people is at the forefront of the 2023 Philadelphia mayoral election. 

As part of this push, many of the media-based institutions in the “Every Voice, Every Vote” coalition are doing incredible work to make youth voters the priority. 

One such organization is The Philadelphia Gay News, the city’s largest and oldest publication centering the LGBTQ+ community. In context to this election, this organization is specifically focused on LGBTQ+ youth. Indeed, Mark Segal, the founder and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News confirms that their organization’s overarching goal within the context of the election is to “define the candidates and get…information to our community.” On top of that, he notes that they are doing work with “various political groups in the LGBT community which people, especially young people can get involved with.” The Philadelphia Gay News is uplifting and honoring the voice of LGBTQ+ Philadelphians, with the hope to impact the lives of countless youth in the coming months. 

Another organization doing work in the realm of youth voting is the Philadelphia Citizen, a nonprofit, non-partisan media organization that aims to reignite citizenship in and around Philadelphia. Jessica Press, the Director of Social Projects at the Citizen, notes the various ways in which their organizations aim to promote youth voice in Philadelphia. She describes past projects that enabled collaboration between PA Youth Vote and Vote That Jawn “to help spread the word about registering to vote, voting, working the polls.” On top of that, the Citizen runs pieces by their high school interns that highlight “ways teens can be involved even if they're not old enough to vote.” Broadly, Jessica states that “[the Citizen’s] goal with elections is to empower as many Philadelphians as possible to be heard through their vote!”   

Chalkbeat, a news organization focused on the effort to improve schools, is also contributing to the push toward youth civic engagement. They have already published several pieces focused on schools and youth issues, specifically in an effort to “ask citizens to share…what they would ask the mayoral candidates about education.” Additionally, Chalkbeat is going to compile a voter guide that will be published ahead of the primary in an effort to promote more civic engagement and education. This guide will serve as a necessary piece of information for all Philadelphians, making knowledge and information more accessible to all., a media-based institution dedicated to technology and entrepreneurship, is also gearing up their efforts leading up to the 2023 election. Recently, they held an open chat on Slack “to hear what our readers want to know about the election.” This conversation has shaped their coverage of the election by allowing them to directly hear from the needs of their community, and is a perfect example of listening to the youth voice. Specifically regarding their goals, aims to “ensure that issues of tech skills and entrepreneurship are a major part of the election,” which they hope to promote within the younger generation through exciting opportunities and technology.  In an ever-changing world of technology, is doing a beautiful job connecting young people to the world, through a variety of opportunities and collaborations. 

Another exciting media organization, Grid Magazine, is working on the same goals, specifically relating to sustainability and environmental issues facing Philadelphia. They recently published a voters guide that profiles the mayoral candidates, which features questions crafted by 24 local experts. These questions, ranging from vacant land to environmental justice, received thoughtful responses from all the candidates, and they hope to highlight the extensive policy platforms of each of the candidates. Grid magazine hopes to “keep sustainability front and center in the campaign conversations.” Grid hopes to utilize young people as “a major force when it comes to advocating for politicians to address climate change.” They recognize the power of the youth voice; it just needs to be empowered.  Their organization believes that young people, who are those most impacted by climate change, have the power to use their voice, even if just at a local or regional level, to impact national conversations surrounding climate change. 

In this pivotal election cycle, it is more important than ever to get involved with organizations working to create lasting, local change. These media groups are putting in effort to uplift Philadelphia’s Youth Voices and would appreciate more support and collaboration from youth in the city. Whether you become involved with these organizations or any other local groups, it is important to be civically aware and responsible during this upcoming election, and future elections, regardless of if you’re able to vote or not

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EVEV Acknowledgement:

This content is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others.

To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.

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