Our newest Innovation Fellows are fighting for racial and environmental justice, empowering immigrant communities, healing trauma, registering young people to vote, reducing ageism and loneliness, and more. And they’re all using cogeneration — bringing older and...
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She’s Inspiring Older Adults To Visit High Schools and Pre-Register Young Voters
Innovation Fellow Sky Bergman's initiative is reducing generational division and creating more lifetime voters
What is Forever Voters and what inspired you to start it?
I was having lunch with a friend who is a member of the League of Women Voters and she was telling me how she was going into high schools and helping students pre-register and register to vote. I was so inspired that I asked if I could document this intergenerational push to help get out the vote. By the end of the week, I was in the classroom interviewing the students about why it was important for them to vote and the issues they’re most excited to vote on.
What problem are you trying to solve?
I think there’s a misperception that young people don’t care about the issues and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Research shows that if someone votes in three out of their first four elections, they’re more likely to become a lifetime voter. My goal is to get as many students as possible registered to vote and encourage them to become lifetime voters so that they can weigh in and have a voice on the issues they are passionate about.
How does Forever Voters work?
Forever Voters began as a documentary film, but now it’s really about empowering other groups to use our resources in their communities. Our website has information on how to pre-register and register to vote and a presentation that anyone can download to use in high schools.
Why choose a cogenerational approach?
Growing up in an intergenerational household with my grandmother, voting was both a duty and a gift. My grandmother remembered women fighting for the right to vote and the memory of her going to vote with her mom for the first time. She passed down the importance of voting to me, and the belief that every vote matters.
I’m seeing that same kind of generational impact with Forever Voters. For the students, it’s transformative to connect with an older adult who encourages them – in a nonpartisan way – to vote, explains what the implications are if they don’t vote, and really listens to what their concerns are. For many of these students, it’s the first time they’re receiving this kind of encouragement from an adult outside their family who is taking them seriously.
What’s your big audacious vision? If you succeed, what change will we see?
To make this a national campaign, where older adults go into schools all across the country to pre-register and register young voters. To create less division between generations when it comes to political and civic engagement by connecting generations and creating dialogue and understanding. For older generations to see how much students actually care. To create more lifetime voters in our country.
How can people get involved with your work?
Go to foverevervoters.com. Bring this to your community. The presentation is there for any group to use. You don’t have to be connected to the League of Women Voters.
Favorite way to wind down and relax?
Playing guitar – mostly folk music. My dad was a folk musician and now that he’s passed, I feel a real connection to him when I play his guitars.
Learn more about Sky Bergman here.