Here's a sampling of some of our recent victories. You can read more about our long history of accomplishments here.
Stopping the Overuse of Antibiotics: Our campaign to protect antibiotics has had unprecedented recent success. Thanks to our work and the work of our coalition partners, in 2015, we convinced McDonald's and Subway to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics. Because the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is creating antibiotic-resistant superbugs, this is an incredible step forward for public health. We collected thousands of photo-petitions, made hundreds of phone calls to corporate headquarters, and got dozens of media hits to convince some of the biggest fast food chains in the country to take action to save our antibiotic medicines.
Getting to 100% Renewable Energy: We have had a couple victories on our campaign to transition to 100% renewable energy. In California last year, we blocked utility efforts to gut the state's strong solar energy incentives. In Oregon, we helped pass the Coal to Clean bill which will double Oregon's clean energy usage and get the entire state off all coal by 2030. And in Massachusetts, we passed city council resolutions in Salem and Dartmouth to move towards 100% renewable energy, and successfully lobbied our State Representatives to raise the cap on solar which will provide enough new clean energy to power over 100,000 homes in across the state.
Banning Plastic Grocery Bags: CALPIRG collected over fifty thousand public comments from students across the state to ban bags and reduce ocean pollution. First, we helped ban bags in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, Davis and Santa Barbara adding up to over 110 cities and counties who have passed similar ordinances. Then, in August of 2014, the CA legislature voted to ban bags statewide. Finally, in fall 2016, CALPIRG Students collected thousands of petitions, held nearly a dozen press conferences, and helped pass Prop 67 which finalized California's plastic grocery bag ban - the first statewide ban of its kind in the country.
Democracy for the People: Last year in Seattle, WashPIRG Students helped gather signatures to qualify the Honest Elections Initiative for the ballot, then helped canvass and phonebank to pass the initiative in November. In Connecticut, ConnPIRG students helped stop a proposal to gut the state’s public financing program. And in April, more than 100 PIRG chapter students joined thousands of other activists in Washington, D.C. for Democracy Awakening, a 3-day event including workshops, a rally, and a lobby day. In addition to organizing their own transportation and logistics to get to the nation’s capital, students played important roles throughout the weekend, helping emcee the rally and helping lead meetings with legislators and their staff.
New Voters Project: It’s time to make politicians pay attention to us. The best way to get them to pay attention to young people and the issues we care about is to show up to the polls, so this year we ran a nationwide voter registration and get out the vote effort. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project is one of the largest on-the-ground, non-partisan, youth voter mobilization campaigns in the country. Over the past 30 years, we have helped to register more than 1.7 million young people, made millions of get-out-the-vote reminders, and have increased youth voter participation in districts across the country. In 2016, our campaign reached 80 campuses in 14 states, helping over 40,000 students register to vote, and making nearly 450,000 voter contacts in the days leading up to the election. Our work paid off: Turnout amongst young people increased compared the 2012 election. An estimated 50% of citizens aged 18-29 voted in 2016, up from 45% in 2012 and just 20% in the 2014 midterm elections.
Making Textbooks More Affordable: Everyone knows that textbooks costs are out of control—the average student spends $900 per year! We're promoting cost-saving solutions on campus while also tackling publishers' stranglehold on the market to change prices for good. We're educating students, faculty and bookstores and raising awareness through research and media attention. We've educated more than 700 faculty members about low cost options and make it easier for students to shop around, and we have helped start pilot programs to incentivize open textbooks at schools like UMass Amherst and Rutgers New Brunswick, which has already saved students millions of dollars.
Making Higher Education More Affordable: In February 2011, the U.S. House passed H.R. 1, a federal budget for 2011, which included a $5.7 billion cut to the Pell Grant program. If passed, that budget cut would have resulted in a $845 per person decrease in financial aid to the most needy recipients and have a chilling effect on the number of college students who can graduate and get into the workforce - at a time when our economy is just recovering. Volunteers from Arizona PIRG, CALPIRG, ConnPIRG, INPIRG, Maryland PIRG, MASSPIRG, MoPIRG, MontPIRG, NJPIRG, Ohio PIRG, PennPIRG, WashPIRG, and WISPIRG generated thousands of calls and petitions to their Senators urging them to stop the cuts and helped to make sure they did not become law.
Hunger and Homelessness: No one should have to worry about whether they will have food on their plate or a roof over their head. But the reality is that hunger and homelessness are widespread problems that affect far too many people. Our Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness has engaged tens of thousands of students in community service and advocacy campaigns, developed long-term projects such as food salvage programs and food pantries, raised millions of dollars for anti-poverty charities, and equipped student leaders with the skills to become effective organizers and activists. Last year, we collected over 12,000 food items for local food pantries, and in recent years we participated in the Hunger Clean-Up, raising over $45,000 to help fight hunger on a local level.
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