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The Issues: Engaging Maine's Young People
As a recent White Paper Report on Maine's Changing Population begins, "Concern that Maine is losing its youngest citizens has become widespread. Indeed, Maine's population growth has lagged behind the nation since the early 1990s. There are fewer young adults today age 20-34, and the proportion of children and young adults as a percent of Maine's population is declining." (The full report is available online.) This trend has been widely reported and isn't completely due to young people leaving, and is partially due to reduced birthrates and the concentration of young people in urban areas and counties.
There has been some good news, however, like a 2003 statistic that noted that more young people moved to Maine than left, but nonetheless, the declining youth population has been a valid reason for concern. As a young person and policymaker, I have been involved with several efforts to address this issue in Maine.
In all the post-election analysis and re-analysis, much has been made of the issues on which voters based their decisions, the red vs. blue states, and who really was the "swing voter". But, little recognition has been given to the major jump in youth turnout. In the 2000 elections youth (18 - 29 year olds) voter turnout was 42%. In 2004 it jumped to 52%. While clearly, 52% is still not enough, this is major progress, representing millions of young people who pundits have often said don't matter when it comes to elections.
The sites linked below offer further information and ideas that help to clarify these complicated issues and help to map out the process of engaging Maine's young people and creating opportunities for them to remain and prosper in their own home state.
Research on Maine's Youth
The Realize Maine Summit's archive of research papers including reports on "Why they Stay and Leave", housing issues, Maine's changing population, employment issues, and much more.
Taking Steps to Cap Youth Migration
News article from Maine Today's teen web site, 20Below.Com on efforts by Maine youth to stem the migration of our young people and create sustainable opportunities and incentives to stay.
Realize Maine Summit
Reports and news from the 2004 gathering of Maine's young people who met to discuss youth migration, youth issues, the economy and Maine's future.
a group I co-chair with Representative Stephen Bowen, which focuses on youth migration and creative economy issues in Midcoast Maine.
CIRCLE Fact Sheets
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement's Fact Sheet archive containing short documents with basic information and graphs detailing demographic information about young people's political and social involvement and concerns.
Rock the Vote
Engaging youth in the political process by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its activities.
Youth Vote Coalition
National nonpartisan coalition of diverse organizations dedicated to engaging youth between the ages of 18-30 in the political process and building inclusive, accountable and responsive government by providing forums for candidates to reach out to young audiences.
Chrysalis Youth Action Fund
The Maine Initiatives' exciting new fund that offers grants for youth-run organizing and leadership. Apply or pass it along to a young leader in Maine for their organization or project.
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