Dear America,

We are the KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy (KDCA) Young Politicians Club: passionate high school students, concerned citizens, and your future. Despite the stereotypes that are often painted about our generation which suggest that we are more concerned about what is in our smart phones than the world around us, we care deeply about our community, this nation, and our friends across the globe.

KDCA Young Politicians at Philly public charter school rally in Philly’s City Hall

Prior to the 2016 Presidential election, sure we’ll admit it — we might have been more interested in the latest celebrity Twitter post or Instagram selfie as opposed to following the latest laws and policies that were impacting our daily lives. Since we were brought up in the age of technology, we knew nothing else. We were young when Barack Obama was elected President so we didn’t really worry about politics as much. The historical importance of a black President hadn’t dawned on us, and we naively assumed that issues of race and inequality were being addressed.

However, our most recent Presidential election opened our eyes and awakened our thoughts about the world around us. In response to witnessing the rise of racial tension, severe income inequality, funding cuts to public education and health care, and inaction of Congress to protect DREAMers and fellow high school students from gun violence, we recognized that we could no longer wait on others for change, but it was on us to do something.

KDCA Young Politicians Club students discuss local issues with Congressman Dwight Evans at his district office in Northwest Philadelphia

Following the 2016 Presidential election, many of us were torn up about not being able to vote because we were under the age of 18, so we brainstormed what we could actually do, and suddenly, the Young Politicians Club was born. We ran applications and interviews to ensure that the top students who were influencers in the school would be involved. In the interviews, students shared the following reflections: “Since we’re America’s future, we need to be educated about what’s going on and do what we can to make a difference.” And, “I’m not old enough to vote, but I want to make sure that every adult I know is registered and plans to vote in the upcoming state, local, and federal elections.” We recognize that there isn’t an age requirement to make a difference in the world, all you need to do is, in the words of the Honorable John Lewis, be willing to “get in good trouble.”

KDCA Young Politicians Club pictured with Senator Bob Casey (PA) in Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.

In a meeting with our Congressman Dwight Evans at his Philadelphia district office, he reminded us that Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” We face an ongoing struggle every day with oppression, racism, and discrimination, and when we have elected and political leaders who promote ignorance it is hard to think that change is possible. We want to ensure that there will be a change, that there will come a time where we will rise from the oppression, discrimination, and racism. As Young Politicians, we believe that a better America starts with us and our political engagement. Our goal is to work as a group to gain a better sense of what is going on and build a network of people who are working to bring positive change to our city and our country.

We have met with community leaders, politicians, and key stakeholders, and participated in local rallies against school gun violence and fair funding for public education, and we are always looking to make more connections and hear different and new perspectives. We still have a few after-school meetings open for guests, so if you’d like to meet us, engage with us, provide suggestions on how to better serve our community, and inspire us, please shoot us an email!