Monthly Meeting Change

For the month of May the general body meeting usually scheduled for the third Wednesday of the month has been pushed back one week to May 28th. We will still meet at the regularly scheduled time of 6:30 at the World Community Center, 438 N Skinker. We will be discussing some new committees forming including fundraising, grant writing, student leadership, and young workers. We hope to see some new faces!

Following this month we will return to our normal schedule of the third Wednesday of each month.

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Drone Free STL Coalition Presents: Drones and Donuts

Drones and Donuts: Militarization of the Police
Wednesday, April 9 7:00 p.m.
University of Missouri: St. Louis – Millennium Student Center, Century Room C

Join Drone Free St. Louis for part one of a four part panel series that will explore various concerns and implications of domestic drone use by the St. Louis Police Department – with donuts!

This first panel will feature Jamala Rogers, Michael McPhearson, and Jenny Truax who will discuss the trend towards militarization of the police, including the racial impact in our communities.

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New Donation Button

WePay has recently announced some changes in the way they accept donations. The website is no longer taking donations or recurring payments, and YSTL installed a new button – located on the sidebar – for one time donors and sustainers.

Any donors who had been sustainers must now start a new sustainership by clicking the “Donate” button and entering their information.

We appreciate the generosity of the community and hope that you can continue to contribute to investing in youth leadership.

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Making Democracy Accessible for All Missourians

What we’re doing:

Young Activists United is currently part of a coalition of many Missourians and organizations working to qualify a measure for the ballot in November 2014 to create a six week period of early voting for all Missouri voters. This is an exciting time to expand democracy for Missouri voters and would be extremely beneficial to many communities.

Who it helps:

Students: Many people who take college courses are prevented from casting their vote on election day at any time other than the very early mornings or evenings – when there may be long lines and wait times, making them late for class or even miss classes. A six week window will allow students to work around their class schedule and cast their votes without having to miss their classes.

People with disabilities: Individuals with disabilities are more likely to have limited access to transportation making it difficult to get to a voting location on Election Day. This extension would allow people with disabilities the flexibility to find the transportation they need at a variety of times. Similarly, if a location is inaccessible, a person with a disability will have more time to survey their voting location and make proper accommodations to cast their vote.

Working families: Parents, caregivers, and people with jobs, children, and various responsibilities are often forced to take unpaid time from work to be able to vote on Election Day. A six week window would provide more flexibility to be able to vote on a day off, or go to the polls with children without waiting in long lines. Confining voting to one 8-12 hour day does not reflect the lives of most working Missourians.

Early voting benefits all voters.

Why this is Important: According to the Brennan Center – a nonpartisan law and policy institute at NYU that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice research shows the key benefits of early in person voting are reduced stress on the voting system on Election Day; shorter lines on Election Day; improved poll worker performance; early identification and correction of registration errors and voting system glitches; and greater access to voting and increased voter satisfaction. [1]

This initiative is an important expansion of democracy that will make the voting system more flexible, efficient, and accessible to Missourians of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. It will increase independence and access to democracy for all Missouri citizens.

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Youth battle for social change in St. Louis

Note: This piece was originally published on People’s World by Young Activists United member Elyse Vesser. Sourceeduc520x300

ST. LOUIS –  In a society where the national student debt totals $1.1 trillion, it is more important than ever to lift young activists up and support them in their efforts to organize and create social change.  Young Activists United St. Louis (YSTL), a St. Louis non-profit, does just that.

Periodically, YSTL recognizes a new young leader as director of the organization.  The year 2014 marks a change in leadership from UMSL student Alice Floros to student and Show Me15 fast food Organizer, Rasheen Aldridge.

“What’s so great about YSTL is that they help you develop into an organizer, whether you’re already active or you’re like me, and didn’t even know what organizing was a year ago,” Rasheen Alridge remarked in his speech at the organization’s ceremoniously themed “New Year, New Organizer” fundraiser at Blank Space on January 11.

YSTL, which celebrated its second birthday in June, has named many accomplishments within the past year.  Focusing on higher education issues, the organization launched its student debt campaign in the fall of 2012.  The campaign began with a student debt conference in which Missourians of all generations gathered to talk about student debt, tuition hikes, and financial literacy in schools.  Subsequently, YSTL organized several actionsaround student debt.

Another point of pride for the organization is the time and resources that it puts into young leaders.  Over the past year members attended trainings that included the National Student Power Convergence, a direct action training by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), and the Midwest Student Debt Conference.

YSTL has also given students a platform to talk about their personal experiences with higher education issues.  In 2013 member Emily Koehler, accompanied by members of the United States Student Association, attended ameeting with Sallie Mae CEOs and Executives to present demands about improving conditions for student borrowers.

Koehler has student loan debt from Sallie Mae, and has used her involvement with YSTL to become a part of a larger activist movement.

“Young Activists United makes it a priority to not only develop young leaders in St. Louis, but also presents them with opportunities to collaborate and advance across movements,” she says.

The recent year also marks a growth in media coverage for the organization and its members.  Both Koehler and member Derek Wetherell received national attention for their student debt stories in a recent Wall Street Journal article, while YSTL Campus Coordinator Courtney Hayes shared her experience in the Riverfront Times.

In the coming year, Aldridge plans to continue to expand YSTL’s membership.  “I’m excited for the new year and some big plans that we have in the works,” he says.  “I’ll be focusing on recruiting more Community College based students from STLCC, Harris-Stowe, and UMSL.”

YSTL will also be partnering with Missouri Jobs with Justice to gather signatures for an early voting ballot initiative, and will be working on voter registration at college campuses.

To find out more about YSTL you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or check out their website. 

Photo: Elyse Vesser

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14 Reasons to support YSTL in 2014

fundraiser

Happy New Year!

We hope this season finds all of you well rested, healthy, and ready to organize!

Saturday January 11th from 3-6PM, Come celebrate with YSTL as we prepare for a new year for the organization. We will welcome our new director Rasheen and thank our previous intercampus coordinator Alice Floros for her hard work.

To help sustain the organization for another year with a new paid organizer we ask for $10 admission at the door (although we will not turn anyone away). The party will have plenty of food, music, YSTL-themed trivia, and more fun games. Finally, Labor Coordinator Derek will be competing with Peace Economy Project Director Jasmin for donations and the winner will have his or her head shaved!

It will be a good time and we hope you can make it to sustain YSTL now and for future years to come!

Reasons to support YSTL in 2014:

1)      Invest in Youth Activism and Train Social Justice Leaders for the broader movement. Donate: Money to provide scholarship to pay for trainings in anti-oppression, power analysis, campaign building and fundraising.

2)      Support groups advocating and organizing for greater accessibility and affordability of higher education in MO. Donate: A gift of printing for flyers, pamphlets and cards to use when organizing on campuses to build a student base

3)      Help build youth power and connections within the broader community. Donate: Information and support! Recommendations and connections to local organizations, student groups, and mentors or your very own wisdom and advice!

4)      Support intersectional organizing between youth, students, labor, advocacy and environmental groups because when we fight together, we win! Donate: Folks! Know someone who is interested in youth activism – or are you interested in youth advocacy and looking for a place to turn? YSTL is the perfect opportunity to get involved!

5)      Support YSTL’s social media presence – it not only gets the word out for our allies’ events and issues, but also helps connect people to these causes. Donate: Money to buy a template for the YSTL website.

6)      Promote visibility of youth activist groups around town. Donate: A banner to put our logo on, or donate time to help with our website!

7)      Support the financial sustainability of our efforts. Donate: Funding for our paid organizer!

8)      Support growing the labor movement by connecting young workers to YSTL and thus to the greater social justice movement and promoting intersectionality. Donate: Refer young union members looking to get involved to YSTL’s Labor Committee (Derek Wetherell is the labor chair).

9)      Help YSTL build our student coalition and strengthen our presence on college campuses. Donate: Folks! Refer us to current students, professor allies, and spread the word about potential internships with YSTL in the coming year at places like UMSL, STLCC, Harris Stowe, and others! (Courtney Hayes is the campus chair.)

10)  Help bring together local activists, community members, faith, labor and advocacy groups to collaborate across movements to improve upon current educational policy and help win a better Higher Education Act in 2014. Donate: Help plan and come to our upcoming summer organizing conference!

11)  Renovate and improve greater connectivity in the YSTL Office by making change to the space. Donate: Handyperson services for office renovation!

12)  Create positive energy and safe spaces for youth to interact and have fun, while learning and growing as leaders. Donate: Office space for retreat planning sessions and time for change of scenery.

13)  Support party time and non-committal socializing fun to de-stress and check in with movement peers. Donate: Food/spirits/space for a happy hour or other similar party in 2014.

14)  Expand access to and knowledge of the social justice community in STL among young people. Donate: Printing, screen-printing and button and business cards to improve connectivity

What do we want more than anything else?  We want to work and grow with you, our allies and supporters! Without your gracious time, donations and sustainerships, none of this would be possible! Thank you!

We look forward to seeing all of you January 11th! You can purchase tickets ahead of time (which is strongly encouraged) HERE

Also, find the event page on Facebook and invite your friends! The more the merrier! HERE

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Get ready for the YSTL shave-off fundraiser!

shave

The time for the YSTL New Year, New Organizer fundraising party is soon closing in!

Come celebrate with YSTL as we prepare for a new year for the organization. We will welcome our new director Rasheen and thank our previous intercampus coordinator Alice Floros for her hard work. There will be games, music, YSTL themed trivia, and one of our members will get his or her head shaved!

To support the work of YSTL, Labor Coordinator Derek and Peace Economy Project Director Jasmin are donating their hair, but just one of them will face the buzzer. Whoever raises the most money will face the shears, $1 = 1 vote for who you’d rather see with a bald head this new year.

The party will be held January 11, 3-6pm at Blank Space on Cherokee St. Visit the Facebook event page for more information. Tickets are $10 at the door or online – click HERE to buy your tickets in advance.

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Solidarity with Fast Food Workers: A Note on The Low Wage Workers Strikes

Photo Credit: St. Louis Can't Survive on 7.35

Photo Credit: St. Louis Can’t Survive on 7.35

Thousands of workers in over 100 cities took to the streets, braved harsh weather, and demanded a living wage for fast food workers. In a brave act of self-determination, these workers called on the heads of chains such as McDonald’s, Jack n the Box, and Domino’s to demand a living wage of $15 and the right to unionize -an end to poverty wages of only $7-8 an hour that force many to rely on government assistance just to get by while the CEO’s such as Don Thompson rake in billions.

Photo Credit @Y_STL

Photo Credit @Y_STL

In St. Louis, over 200 people – fast food workers, allies, faith and community leaders, and more – went from store to store, all over St. Louis, in <30 degree temperatures to stand with their brothers and sisters fighting for higher pay. YSTL director and Jimmy John’s employee Rasheen Aldridge helped lead the procession down Lindell Blvd – from McDonald’s to Domino’s, Rally’s, Arby’s, and Jack ‘n the Box – with a sign in hand while faith leaders from the Christian and Jewish communities led the group in song in prayer.

It was truly powerful to see the hundreds of workers and allies come together and demand justice for low wage workers who struggle every day to support themselves and their families. Standing side by side with workers directly affected by the actions and retaliation of their managers, workers in other industries who share their struggle, and faith leaders work to empower communities to support each other stirred some strong emotions. Striking and marching with these workers was not just a job as a member of YSTL – it was a powerful moment where I could stand behind them as they shared their voices and stories. The activist community in St. Louis is close and strong, and it’s always the most visible during these strikes.

It was even more special considering that later on, after I had left the actions, I found out that the revolutionary Nelson Mandela had passed away. Madiba fought for the empowerment of Black South Africans and demanded justice even while imprisoned for years. His fight to end apartheid in South Africa reached seemingly impossible victories and inspires people around the world to this day. The organization representing the fast food strikers in St. Louis – friend and ally St. Louis Can’t Survive on $7.35 – shared a quote from Mandela that is most fitting for the day and to end this piece. May his legacy continue to inspire the youth of today to continue fighting the good fight and standing alongside their allies in the struggle. Rest in power.

Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. -Nelson Mandela speech in London for the campaign to end poverty in the developing world, 2005. 

 

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Join YSTL at JwJ’s Scrooge of the Year!

YSTL will be hosting a table at Jobs with Justice’s annual Scrooge of the Year fundraiser on Friday, December 13 at 5 p.m. Much fun to be had by all, except maybe the scrooge.

Be sure to vote for YSTL’s nominee for Scrooge of the Year Senator Roy Blunt!

Young Activist United – STL nominated Sen. Blunt because he supports cuts to food stamps, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and supported the government shut down. 

YSTL also nominated Senator Blunt because he supported allowing interest rates on student loans to expire and double.

Every one dollar donation counts as one vote for Senator Roy Blunt (MO). Nominated by Young Activists United – St. Louis.

Votes can be cast HERE

To reserve a seat at the table, e-mail youngactivistsunitedstl@gmail.com.

Cost is $10 to attend this fundraising holiday event.

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Student Loan Rates are set to increase on July 1st unless Congress takes action.

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Education is something that people not only value, but cherish. Coming July 1, 2013, however, it will be less accessible to every current student and prospective student—that is unless Congress acts immediately. As of now, there are about 37 million students with outstanding student loans, bringing the total student loan debt to about 1 trillion dollars. This July, the numbers will become even higher, with Stafford Loans increasing from 3.4% to 6.8%, which would bring an estimated $1,000 more debt per student every year. For many, this may seem like déjà vu, for the same thing was projected to happen last year. Fortunately for us, the Obama Administration along with the Democratic Party and many other student interest groups managed to convince Congress to pass a one year extension. July 1st marks the end of that one year extension.

Students are already struggling to pay for their schooling and living off as little as they can, we cannot afford to cut back even more. Fortunately according to the White House, “President Obama put forward a long-term solution that cuts rates this year on nearly all new loans, ensures that all students have access to affordable repayment options, and does not charge students higher interest rate to pay for deficit reduction”. He, however, cannot do this on his own. Last year, we as students had an enormous impact on the Hill; we were able to convince 186 Republicans in the House and 24 Republicans in the Senate to work with Democrats to keep student loan rates low.We cannot let up now; we must contact our members of congress and encourage them to not double our rates, we must use social media outlets to get our voices heard such as Twitter and Facebook.

As our President has said, “Education is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford, every young person with dreams and ambition should be able to access…Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to you and the generation that’s coming behind you, and that if we work together to generate more jobs and educate more kids and open up new opportunities for everybody who’s willing to work and willing to push through those doors of opportunity, America can’t be stopped”. Let us stand behind our President and band together to send a strong message to Congress: “don’t double our rates!”
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To find out more about how you can take action, like Don’t Double My Rate – Missouri on Facebook for updates, or submit your student debt story on tumblr or by e-mailing DDMRMissouri@gmail.com
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