Theory of Change

The Washington Bus is a youth-driven organization that increases political access and participation for young people across Washington State. The Bus equips young people with the skills to lead from their own expertise. The Bus meets young people where they are, and mobilizes them to build a more progressive and representative Washington State. The Bus supports the leadership of young people from underrepresented communities: communities of color, young women, young LGBTQ people and young working class people.
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If these assumptions, values, and context are true...

Assumptions

  1. More voices of young people at the table will create a more progressive and just political climate for Washington State.
  2. Young people hold expertise about their own lived experiences, and young people should drive the conversation.
  3. Young people have the most to gain from forward-facing, progressive investments.

Values

  • Equity
  • Social justice
  • Inclusion
  • Accessibility
  • Civic engagement
  • Authenticity
  • Young people power

Context

About Washington State:
  1. Demographics in the state are shifting – more young people, more people of color, more LGBTQ people in electorate
  2. Political environments are different around the state: Eastern, Central, Western WA
  3. Average voter in WA is 62 in a Primary election
About WA Bus Programs:
  1. Historical focus on issue campaigns = “win”
  2. Metrics based in number of participants, phone calls, doors knocked, voter registrations, Pledge to Vote cards
  3. The Bus meets young people where they are – at concerts, festivals, community events, college campuses, high school classrooms
  4. The Bus invests in our state’s most valuable resource: people
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...and we undertake these strategies...

Strategies

People
  • Develop young leaders through Bus Fellowship and internships – leadership development, concrete campaign and organizing skills.
  • Focus intentionally on young people from disenfranchised communities – young people of color, young women, young LGBTQ people, and young working class people.
Participation
  • Use effective field techniques – phone banks, canvassing, event-based work – to increase voter registration, voter turnout, and civic participation among young people.
  • Frame and communicate issues to young people – breaking complex policy issues down, and making the political process more accessible.
  • Support issue campaigns that advance young peoples’ core issues.
Policy
  • Engage young people to define our generation’s core issues, organize young people to elevate them in the civic sphere, and move the issues most important to our generation into the center of debate.
  • Build coalitions with organizations across interest and community groups to advance a shared agenda, with young people at the table.
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...then we can have this impact.

Impact

Short term:
  • People: The pipeline of young community organizers is diverse, has training, and is central to the political ecosystem. Bus alumni are active in political and community organizations.
  • Participation: The Bus increases youth vote turnout at the state and local level. The Bus increases access to civic information for young people.
  • Policy: The Youth Agenda effectively frames the discussions around young people and civic engagement, policy, and campaigns.
Long term:
  • People: Decision-makers in Washington State – elected officials, organizational leaders, and community leaders – are made up of Bus-trained people from traditionally marginalized communities, especially people of color, women, and LGBTQ people.
  • Participation: High young voter turnout makes young people a critical constituency group for candidates and elected officials.
  • Policy: Young people, the Bus, and the Youth Agenda shape policy decisions, inform legislation, and drive progressive initiative campaigns.
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