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How Grassroots Advocacy Can Impact Public Policy (Najma Nazy'at)

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Published on May 19, 2009

How Grassroots Advocacy Can Impact Public Policy
Question: Najma, can you tell us about strategies for winning a campaign for the Boston Youth Organizing Project (BYOP)?

Najma Nazy'at: Remember the mindset of our young people -- licenses, graduation, etc. Imagine you are trying to get home, but it's past 6 o'clock so your student pass doesn't work anymore. You have no money, how do you get home? Young people complain about what's happening to them. They complained about this problem of not being able to get home. Organizers came to school and had pizza -- young people responded. Young people come up with solutions. We taught young people to frame an issue. They are surprised at how much they learn. Because it's organizing, you not only learn, you get to do something. There are too many young people affected by issues that can be fixed administratively. For example, young people should be able to talk to their guidance counselor during their senior year. Young people need extra-curricular activities. We try to attract people every single year. We identify issues and then go after the target. A lot of times, the targets are the school bureaucracy.

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