Seattle City Council elections are coming up! Candidate forums are a great way to get to know your district candidates, what their platforms are, and how they will work for the people if elected. Candidate forums provide constituents the chance to ask questions and create a space for conversation about the wants of the people and the goals of those that are running for elected office. To get young people involved in this political process, it’s important to make these forums free, well-advertised, and designed to engage and encourage the public to vote.
Organizing candidate forums that make politics exciting and engaging specifically for young people is a huge part of increasing young voter turnout and making the political arena a more accessible space. I benefit from candidate forums as settings where I can be comfortable approaching candidates directly. Being at forums with other young people is an easy way for me to learn about the stances of candidates on the issues that I care about. Ultimately, forums help me better choose who I should vote for. Youth-oriented candidate forums also let candidates know about the issues that young people in their district care about and gives them an opportunity to speak to them directly about their platform. Overall, candidate forums for young people that subvert traditional forums will get young people more involved in politics, which is what the Bus is all about!
– Emily Fortier, Fellowship Class of 2019
A Personal Message from the Board of Directors
Dear Bus Family and Friends,
The Board of Directors is excited to announce Amy Wasser as the Interim Executive Director of The Washington Bus. Amy joins the Bus as a seasoned nonprofit leader and a skilled organizational strategist. She most recently served as the Interim Executive Director at University Beyond Bars. We are confident that Amy’s energy and collaborative approach will be great assets to the Bus.
Over the course of the year, Amy will lead our board, staff, and stakeholders through a strategic planning process and the search for our next Executive Director. We’re so grateful to the Bus community for your steadfast support and look forward to announcing opportunities to meet Amy and the team. Please join us in welcoming Amy to the Bus and read a message from Amy below.
Seferiana Day, Michael Hill, and Aaron Robertson
Executive Committee, Board of Directors
A Letter from the Interim Executive Director
I am honored to have been named the Interim Executive Director of The Washington Bus, an organization that has a direct impact on the issues important to young people today and for the future. I have been a nonprofit professional for over 20 years and have spent the majority of my career assisting organizations with success/strategic planning, operations, and human resource development. I look forward to doing the same for the Bus and to meeting you at one of our events or programs soon. If you would like to meet with me one-on-one, please feel free to reach out to me via email at amy[at]washingtonbus[dot]org.
If you haven’t yet, please click here to read about our work last year in our 2018 Impact Report.
Interim Executive Director
Interested in contributing to our work this year? Just click here.
The Bus Fellowship is an intensive, intentional, and transformative experience for young people who are ready to inspire change alongside their communities. Over the course of ten weeks, Fellows learn from progressive experts from across the state, run the most innovative civic programs in Washington State, and collaborate with community organizations and issue campaigns for hands-on organizing experience. Find a complete list of Fellow job responsibilities on the 2019 Fellowship Job Description.
The Fellowship application for 2019 is closed.
For information regarding the Fellowship or questions about the application process please contact our Leadership Development Coordinator, Will Muhammad. Will can be reached at email@example.com, or (206) 325-1889.
Written by the 2018 Washington Bus Fall Interns: Octo, Avery and Maya
One of the best things about interning at the Bus is the sense of community we build and the way we empower people through our work. This fall, we worked tirelessly to register voters before the election, and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) after ballots were mailed. We focused on bringing voter registration to students instead of making them come to us. We organized with high schools and local community colleges, giving class presentations and canvassing on college campuses. We also had tables with information about voting and about the Bus at events at the Vera Project, a youth-based arts organization, as well as at events like the SEIU 775 conference. At the Bus, our mission is to combat misinformation about voting, let people know how easy it is to vote in Washington, and help youth and other marginalized groups better engage in politics. Our GOTV work consisted of phonebanks in our office and doorknocking events in King County and Pierce County. We could not have accomplished our GOTV goals without our amazing volunteers. We fostered a sense of community at our phonebanks as we ate snacks, discussed interesting calls and watched fun movies together. For us, it’s important to remember that politics isn’t just about people in suits making decisions – it’s about people like us, being able to have fun while taking charge of our lives and working to improve the world around us. Our work this fall made a difference in local elections. All of our endorsed candidates won their elections. We registered 3,811 people to vote, made 16,503 phone calls and knocked on 1,397 doors. We had meaningful conversations with many young people about why they need to vote and, most importantly, we had fun doing it!
On GOTV weekends, we door knocked with Bus staff in the 30th and 47th legislative districts around Kent and Federal Way. Like phone banking, this activity required us to talk to strangers about their excitement for voting. The main difference is that we were meeting people in person in front of their house on a Saturday or Sunday morning. In addition to inquiring about people’s excitement to vote, we also asked people if they would be willing to endorse progressive candidates. Luckily, we had partners when we went door knocking around different neighborhoods, so there was always a good support system in case someone forgot a talking point or an unexpected conversation developed. The partnerships were perhaps the most engaging part because it meant closely working with someone you may not know. My most memorable experience was with a volunteer from Nathan Hale.Working with this volunteer meant I got to share how I step outside of my comfort zone to engage in conversation. He was definitely nervous about talking to strangers, but throughout the day I provided opportunities for him to speak about ballot submission and the endorsed candidates. Through partnerships like this one, we could exchange our knowledge on how to engage voters, which helped everyone build on their experiences. We are proud of the community fostered in these personal and shared experiences because it contributed to greater voter turnout. Staff, volunteers, and interns alike grow into a community while working together to canvass. It was amazing to see people from various backgrounds feel united around political activism and we’re glad to tell you that it was a blast.
[Image description: Octo smiling at camera]
For me, Avery, one of the best experiences of my internship was visiting a school that is a part of Seattle Interagency Academy. Seattle Interagency Academy is a network of small high schools that provide education for students who have been unable to continue their schooling in the mainstream Seattle Public Schools. We visited the school to host a voter registration drive and to do class presentations about civic engagement. During our presentation we all sat in a circle to talk about voting and what voting meant to us. When we asked who in the group was planning to vote, only two or three of the thirty-odd students raised their hands. We went around the circle asking people why they didn’t vote, their answers weren’t surprising: “I don’t think it matters,” “The government doesn’t care about people like me,” “It’s not worth my time.” These are all things we’ve heard from a lot of other students from marginalized backgrounds, as there isn’t a lot of evidence they can see about politicians caring about their needs. Will, the Bus staff lead, and I, shared stories about believing those same things when we were younger. A single vote may not feel like it matters, but as a group our votes count. We explained to the students that voting is a way they can take the future into their own hands and try to ensure it’s not just politicians who get to make decisions about their lives. By the end of our time there, almost every eligible student had registered to vote. A lot of students thanked us and said the presentation made them feel like they had a voice for the first time in a long time. To see these students feel more confident and empowered to advocate for themselves was an incredible feeling.
[Image description: Avery in front of Seattle Center fountain]
People who work in the election cycle often talk about how draining GOTV season is – and with good reason. It’s hard to be face-to-face (or on the phone) with someone who simply doesn’t want to talk to you attempting to convince them that their vote really matters. And what do you say to really engage a classroom full of 17- and 18-year-olds who may not even realize there’s an election just around the corner? I think everyone who works for a campaign or volunteers at a GOTV event eventually figures out a message – or even just an opening line – that works for them, and that feels true and genuine. There were a few conversations with voters that really stuck out to me. One voter I talked to while doorknocking in South King County thanked me and my canvassing partner profusely for the work we were doing and told us that his daughter – who was the person we’d been attempting to reach – had moved to Texas but was canvassing for Beto O’Rourke. Unsurprisingly, we left that house feeling energized! But it often still feels like a big challenge to educate and inform the public. However, the fact that it’s challenging is the very reason that our work through the Bus is so urgent – because so often it’s a sign that the people we’re talking to aren’t used to being reached out to. A new voter in South King County may not feel that voting is important to them because no one has ever bothered to ask for their vote – and that’s where the Bus steps in. Our message is simple: their vote matters.
[Image description: Maya smiling at camera]
The 2019 HEA Internship Application is now closed.
Feel free to contact Bridget at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.