‘It’s way beyond collaboration’: Young leaders see their comments reflected in Biden’s plans

Advocates say the youth-focused proposals in Biden’s “Build Back Better Plan,” which includes the administration’s infrastructure proposal, build directly on conversations the administration has regularly had with young people. community leaders on how best to deal with how young Americans have been affected. by the Covid-19 pandemic. For months, the Biden administration has hosted panel discussions on a number of youth-relevant topics, including youth in foster care, higher education, mental health, gun violence prevention, rights and climate change, giving the administration the ability to hear directly from young Americans on the issues that affect them most.

The results of those conversations are evident in the administration’s plans, said Sixto Cancel, founder and CEO of Think of Us, a tech nonprofit aimed at improving the foster care system.

“It’s way beyond collaboration. I would almost say it’s like co-designing,” Cancel told CNN.

He added that since the first week the president took office, the Biden administration has made a concerted effort to include young people by organizing what he called several “open forums” for discussion.

“It’s not about advocacy, it’s about outreach. We really help people in the White House understand experiences and build a pipeline to the right offices,” said Cancel, a 29-year-old who grew up in foster care.

According to a fact sheet published on CNN, Biden calls for measures including subsidized education options in community colleges and schools for minority communities, more opportunities for young workers such as apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, a free universal preschool, subsidized child care based on family income and making permanent a more robust child tax credit, funding to build or improve rental housing and affordable homes and a revamped Civilian Climate Corps that would put young people in Americans at work to preserve American nature.

The administration says the four areas they focus on are: “Education and Workforce Opportunities”, “Support for Young Adults Caring for Their Families”, “Affordability and Access to Housing” and “Climate crisis”, according to the fact sheet.

The White House said Thursday that Biden understands that “in order to ensure a brighter and fairer future, we must support young adults, many of whom face the long-term consequences of two economic downturns.”

Those outside the White House involved in the conversations informing the proposals say they are happy that the president is identifying ways to improve the lives of young Americans, and they are grateful to have been part of the discussions.

“One of the things that gives me hope is that the Biden administration is responding to the severity of the damage to children and youth from the pandemic. They are reaching out and listening to the experiences of children and youth who have faced hunger or homelessness, or face crushing student loan debt and come up with real solutions, ”said Maxwell Lubin, 31, founder and CEO of Rise, a youth-focused organization. affordability and democracy at the university.

“The commitment goes way beyond me personally,” said Lubin. “We were fortunate to have a number of Rise students from community colleges and HBCUS and other universities engage in conversations with leaders in the Biden administration at all levels.”

But, according to some, while the Biden administration has brought young people to the table from day one, youth advocates weren’t always sure they were heard.

“When the White House released this infrastructure and jobs plan, we did an ‘f check’ and looked for young people and what arrangements they had for young people. To be honest, there is none. was not much at all, “said Duy Pham, the 28-year-old who is part of the youth policy team and leads justice work at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

“We were really concerned that so many young people and young people of color would be left behind. We held many meetings and set up a smaller coalition focused on youth employment,” Pham said, adding that he had since met with the Department of Labor in addition to the White House.

According to Pham, the youth-focused fact sheet is “definitely a step in the right direction.”

And while the Sunrise movement was seen as an early influencing force in the Biden administration, the youth-led climate organization has expressed frustration with the president and his administration in recent weeks for not making investments. most important in terms of climate change.

“They are well aware of our requests, but are not responding fully,” said Ellen Sciales, spokesperson for Sunrise, 24.

Sunrise staged protests and sent a letter to the White House expressing that they were not yet satisfied with the president’s proposals.

The group has advocated for a civilian climate body and appreciates its inclusion in Biden’s plan, Sciales said.

“But in the scheme of things, this package does not go far enough and the process is not over,” she added.

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