A Summer of Civic Leaders

Blog Post

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement’s (CIRCLE) new report, Growing Voters, serves as a framework for how organizations, institutions and communities can prepare young people to become active and informed voters. 

Many of CIRCLE’s recommendations, such as focusing on local leadership development, peer to peer contacts, and year round deep organizing, have been a part of the nonpartisan Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project model for more than 30 years. We are proud to work with CIRCLE and partners around the country to help grow voters for years to come.

Training civic leaders this summer

In June, we launched our New Voters Project Civic Leadership Program to provide students with the skills, training, and resources to effectively mobilize their campuses for the midterm election and beyond. By investing in the development of local leaders, we’re making sure the voice of young people is heard this November, while providing the skills and experience young people need to make lasting change in their communities for years to come.

50 students graduated from our inaugural Civic Leadership Certificate program in the month of June. These students represented 29 four-year universities, 12 community colleges, and three high schools in 17 states. Participants learned how to create a campus civic engagement action plan, how to run a voter engagement event, and honed grassroots organizing skills to reach their peers. I’m thrilled by the success of our first month of training and am excited to continue providing this valuable resource for more students to come.

Meet some of our summer civic leaders:

Quanzelle Austrie, Class of 2023, University of South Florida

Quanzelle is the Florida Campus Outreach Intern and New Voters Project Campaign Coordinator for University of South Florida. As a PIRG student leader, she worked with the Bulls Vote Coalition to help their campus earn an ALL IN Campus Democracy Goal Seal by achieving a student voting rate of 74.7%, an eleven percentage point increase from 2016. Quanzelle is working with vote coalition partners to help students from all four campuses at USF replicate her success and participate in the midterm election.

Quanzelle: I am excited to work with the New Voters Project this summer because civic engagement has always been something I advocate for, and with the Student PIRGs we get to be hands-on in making direct change nationwide.

Maria Ayala, Class of 2022, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Maria was a PIRG student leader in North Carolina at UNC – Charlotte and is joining our team to work full-time organizing students in the state. Since graduating, Maria has hit the ground running, working with a dozen college campuses in North Carolina to help them create and hone their campus civic engagement action plans leading up to the November elections.

Maria: What I’m most excited about is the chance to see real impact and change from the work that I’m contributing to. My personal goal is to create a better world and I’m so glad that, through training like these, I’m gaining the skills and knowledge to be able to do that.

Hanna Lesiak, Class of 2023, Northwestern University

Hanna, a student and member of the women’s volleyball team at Northwestern University, is working with our national partners at All Vote No Play and Athletes Unlimited to organize a panel and training for student athletes to learn how to train their teams to become civically active this fall.

Hanna: I am most excited to continue to connect with others in the athletic world and use the organizing skills I have developed to demonstrate to others how important civic engagement is. I feel that voting has not always been super involved in sports, especially at the college level. So, I’m excited that other projects have sprouted because of my involvement with the New Voters Project.

July 25-26: Civic Leadership Boot Camp

If you work with young people, please help spread the word about our upcoming New Voters Project Civic Leadership Boot Camp on July 25th and 26th by sharing our signup form. This two day, virtual training is an accelerated version of the Civic Leadership Certificate Program, designed to provide the basic skills needed to run an effective student voter registration and mobilization drive on a college or high school campus.

This intensive training focuses on strategies and tactics that have been proven to increase student civic participation in elections and will be delivered through skills overviews from expert organizers and small group workshops to provide individualized attention to trainees.

I’m excited to keep you updated and share highlights as we continue encouraging youth participation in our democracy. If you have any thoughts on our program or want to learn more about our plans for the upcoming election, please reach out! Give me a call at ‭(925) 234-1457, respond to this email, or follow me on Twitter @mannyrin.

Photo of New Voters Project Director Manny Rin


Manny Rin
Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project

About The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project
PIRG New Voters Project, Inc. is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with 4945(f) status. We work on 100 campuses across the country to activate the largest voting bloc in the country. Young people continue to be underrepresented in our democracy, so we work to make sure every student has the opportunity to have their voice heard in our elections by building a culture of civic engagement on college campuses. We engage students, faculty, and administrators to build lasting systems of voter engagement for the long term.
Since 1984, our field-based, non-partisan effort helped to register over 2 million young people and make over 3 million Get out the Vote contacts reminding young people where, when, and how to vote. We have tested new field models to ensure we are running the most effective civic engagement program possible. One study of our program showed that 82% of the young people we helped to register leading up to the 2020 election turned out to vote, while 75% of the young people contacted through our peer-to-peer GOTV program turned out to vote. This compares to 68.5% of a representative sample of college students overall who were registered and voted in 2016.
About The Student PIRGs
Students have the right and the responsibility to shape the future we will inherit. Our program spans over 100 campuses in 22 states of which 35 campuses have self-funding programs, that provide the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle climate change, protect public health, revitalize our democracy, feed the hungry and more. Students have been at the forefront of social change throughout history, from civil rights, to voting rights to protecting the environment. For almost 50 years we’ve helped our campus communities get organized, mobilized and energized so they can continue to be on the cutting edge of positive change. Every year, over 4,000 students gain hands-on experience in organizing and activism by volunteering with us to generate 150,000 grassroots actions.