Young Invincibles, Assem. Weber, Students and Advocates Hail Final Passage of Campus Hunger Bill


August 23, 2016

Contact: Nina Smith, nina.smith@younginvincibles.org301-717-9006

Young Invincibles, Assem.Weber and Advocates Hail Final Passage of Campus Hunger Bill 

The measure would ensure greater access to food resources for vulnerable students on California college campuses

SACRAMENTO, CA — Young Invincibles joined Assem. Weber (D-San Diego), students and fellow activists in hailing final passage of AB 1747 out of the California state legislature. If signed into law, the measure would eliminate bureaucratic barriers that prevent the Golden State’s most vulnerable students from accessing food resources on its college campuses. It now heads to Governor Brown for his signature.

“We are very pleased AB 1747 has achieved successful passage with strong support. AB 1747 allows the state to take a few small steps to reduce hunger and increase college completion for thousands of  California students,” said Gustavo Herrera, Western Director of Young Invincibles, a Millennial research and advocacy group leading organizing efforts for AB 1747. “We know that hunger and economic deprivation result in higher dropout rates for our most vulnerable students. By maximizing federal food assistance received and spent in California through AB 1747, we can not only ensure more students can access college, but also ensure they complete their degrees. We urge Governor Brown to sign this common-sense measure into law.”

“Nearly a quarter of students in the CSU system and nearly 20 percent of UC students are facing food insecurity,” Assem.Weber, AB 1747’s lead legislative sponsor said. “California should be finding solutions to support low-income college students, reduce hardships, and remove economic barriers to graduation. While some campuses are stepping up to address food insecurity and homelessness, many are not. AB 1747 is a vital step in connecting students with available resources to help improve campus climate and a student’s overall academic success.”

Frequently, students who’ve overcome significant challenges to attend college go hungry when they come to campus. For them, CalFresh, California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has proven difficult to access. AB 1747 would address challenges students face accessing CalFresh, which provides federally funded food benefits for low-income Californians. Newly implemented state laws (AB 1930, Chaptered Bills of 2014) reduce barriers to application for CalFresh for low-income college students, but many students still don’t know about the rule change or how to apply.

“Vulnerable students who have made it to college are among California’s best and brightest students, and they shouldn’t be undermined by the indignity of hunger,” said Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate for Western Center on Law and Poverty, a co-sponsor of the bill. “AB 1747 takes meaningful steps toward protecting these college students from hunger and state investments in their education.”

Today’s legislative action is welcome news for current and former students for whom this issue is all too familiar. One advocate added, “I am shocked that almost 20 years later, food insecurity is still a major obstacle in beginning, thriving and completing one’s education,” said Kathleen Selke, an advocate working with Young Invincibles. “And with tuition and fees at both 4-year and 2-year institutions having risen 28 percent since the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis,  I fear for future students, including my four younger siblings who have yet to complete school as my experience discouraged them from going to college. With college tuition costing so much, something has to give and it shouldn’t be students’ health.  I am pleased to see our state’s lawmakers recognize the need for AB1747 and have taken action to ensure that we make providing students with the basic support they need while completing their degrees, such as access to affordable food, a priority.”

Should AB 1747 be signed into law, it would establish a fund to support partnerships between food banks and on-campus food kitchens and allow local partnerships to improve on-campus pantry food safety and increase the amount of food available. It would also allow for more information about on-campus pantries and will help the California Department of Social Services better serve low-income college students most at risk of dropping out of school.

California colleges have already taken steps to understand the growing student hunger crisis on campus. Senate passage follows the release of data pointing to a growing hunger crisis on California college campuses. According to a Cal State study released this year, one in four students go hungry on the system’s campuses. Another survey from the University of California Student Association found that 19 percent of UC students indicated they had “very low” food security. As a result of the survey, UC’s President Janet Napolitano approved $3.3 million in new funding over the next two years to help students access food on and off campus.



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July Jobs Numbers Make Case for Improving Apprenticeship Programs

By Tom Allison

While the national unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in July, the rate for young adults ages 18-to-34 rose slightly to 6.9 percent (seasonably adjusted) from 6.8 percent in June. Notably, sectors with high prevalence of apprenticeships saw significant job growth. Those sectors include:

  • The construction industry added 14,000 new jobs in July, including 9,400 specialty trade contracting jobs.
  • Nearly 50,000 new jobs were created in health care and social assistance, including 17,000 new hospital jobs and over 5,000 in social assistance.
  • There were also 11,000 new jobs in durable good manufacturing (all estimates seasonably adjusted).

Among the other unadjusted unemployment estimates, we see that young people of color continue to struggle to find a job despite the fact that our national unemployment rate has fallen by more than half since the depths of the recession:

  • Young Latinos: 7.5 percent
  • Young Asian or Pacific Islanders: 6.0 percent
  • Young African Americans 12.2 percent

jobs july


Last week’s jobs report coincides with Young Invincibles’ release of a new report on apprenticeships, debunking myths about the program and making suggestions for improving the system. The job growth in sectors key for apprenticeships reinforces our recommendations to improve our apprenticeship system. Conducted in the Chicagoland area where young people face some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the study highlights three key misconceptions that Millennials hold about apprenticeships: that apprenticeship programs don’t currently exist in their communities, that apprenticeships don’t pay, and that participating in an apprenticeship means never receiving a college degree.

Based on these misconceptions about apprenticeships, as well as stated job preferences among Millennials, we advance six recommendations for building and branding youth-friendly apprenticeship programs.

When it comes to program structure, we recommend expanding pre-apprenticeship and job shadowing opportunities, creating more apprenticeships that provide the option to receive college credentials, and starting apprentices in cohorts. On the marketing side, we suggest being more explicit about wages, building innovative social media marketing strategies, and using near-peers as ambassadors.  Doing so will both build a broader base of Millennial support for these programs and ensure that those opportunities fit the needs of today’s young people.

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Learning To Work In Texas

Young workers make up a significant part of the Texas workforce, 39.7 percent of which is comprised of people between the ages of 16 to 34 years old. The state’s economic prospects rest on this generation’s ability to secure good jobs and to support themselves and their families. However, young people today are less likely to earn as much as previous generations, face skyrocketing higher education costs, and have dim prospects of social mobility as a result.

Recognizing this, Young Invincibles launched the Texas Jobs Tour in 2015, a statewide listening tour that reached over 250 young adults in Texas, learning from their experiences confronting a workforce that is increasingly challenging to break into and to excel in. Guided by these conversations, and existing data around youth unemployment challenges both across Texas and locally in Houston, we detail an agenda for Houston and state policymakers that would build upon current initiatives to open up jobs and economic opportunity. To improve job search skills and connections to the job market, the state of Texas must strengthen high school advising programs and improve access to information about career outcomes at Texas Colleges. Local and state policymakers must also expand early work experience opportunities for young Texans.

Please see our report, Learning to Work in Texas, for details on the policy agenda.

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Employment Trends of Young Adults over the Last Three Years



Tom Allison, 2013



June marked my third anniversary of working at Young Invincibles, and the 36th straight month of digging through the monthly jobs report to highlight young adults and underrepresented minorities’ trends in the workforce. Along the way we’ve explored entrenched inequities, particularly between African American and white young adults, put a price tag on the cost of youth unemployment, ranked the best jobs and industries for Millennial workers, and laid out a workforce development gameplan to improve young workers’ employment prospects. So we’ve learned a lot about young adults in the workforce, but I was curious about how their situation has changed in these last three years.

Generally, young adults, just like the workforce as a whole, have seen some significant improvements in the job market. In fact, there are 2.9 million more young adults working in 2016 than in 2013. Their unemployment rate has dropped 3.5 points to 6.8 percent from 10.4 percent.

June Jobs 16-1

The percent of young adults participating in the workforce (young adults with jobs or actively looking for one) has remained nearly the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as students not actively looking for work don’t count as part of the workforce.

June Jobs 16-2

The percentage of young people with jobs, also known as the employment-population ratio, has improved: nearly 70 percent of all young adults have some sort of employment, compared to 60 percent for the workforce at large.  While young people are finding jobs, it’s just as important  to understand the quality of jobs for young adults, and have that understanding drive our workforce policies.

June 16 -3

We know that all jobs aren’t created equal, and there’s plenty of evidence that young adults aren’t recovering fast enough to remain financially secure, and of course significant racial gaps persist and must be addressed. We also know that 99 percent of all jobs created since the Recession have gone to workers with a college education, so making college more accessible and affordable, and improving student success rates, is more important than ever.

So we’ve come a long way in the last three years, but have a lot more work to do.

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Tom Allison in the Young Invincibles’ Data Lab, 2016



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How Motherhood Made Me an Advocate


The goal was to keep promoting parties after college. It wasn’t the most stable strategy, but I’ve been doing it since I was 17. I could excite a crowd, make friends out of strangers in the time it took to hand over a flyer. I knew how to spread a message. It was shortsighted, but it was familiar, and it was enough. Until, of course, I had my daughter.

Mia was never part of the plan, but propelled bigger plans into motion. I was 22 when I found out I was pregnant, and unemployed. The country had gone into a recession, and the safety net I’d taken for granted swiftly unraveled beneath me. I always had a parent to navigate adulthood for me, who made it look easy to make a doctor’s appointment or keep every bill in order. But after my first visit to apply for Medicaid, I knew motherhood would come with great turbulence. I showed up at the DC Department of Human Services at 9 am not knowing what to expect, only to find a waitlist of more than 100 people. I spoke with an employee, who snapped that I should have been there two hours earlier to expect any service. I tried again another day and completed my paperwork. I stumbled through the next steps of finding a clinic with no one’s help, and finally met with a nurse practitioner near the end of my first trimester. While it was unfair, the massive lack of resources seemed entirely unnecessary and avoidable. I know I’m not the only young mother to struggle with a system that refused to accommodate me.

My advocacy began with volunteering at the clinic that assisted me through my pregnancy. I wanted to assist other parents in the way I never was. I also started taking community college courses, and was fortunate to have teachers who allowed me to bring my daughter to class. I was hired at the clinic as a breastfeeding peer counselor a year after I started volunteering, and my job was incredibly understanding when I needed time with Mia. By the next year, I was promoted to Family Services Manager. Most of the mothers I worked with didn’t have the same luxuries. Our most vulnerable populations don’t have access to paid family leave, and have had to use sick leave to spend time with their newborns. Or worse yet—are terminated from their jobs for starting a family. I’ve met mothers as young as teenagers who returned to work less than a week after giving birth for fear they’d lose their only source of income. This doesn’t allow enough time for their bodies to heal after birth, or establish a relationship with their newborn. The lack of resources and protective laws is not only destructive to families, but harmful to new parents’ health as well.

My own experiences and similar stories from other moms turned my frustrations into action. It’s why I’m an advocate now, helping residents of low-income neighborhoods navigate the health care system and demanding policymakers to let parents reach their full potential through initiatives like Paid Family Leave and the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, a federally funded child care service offered to young parents on college campuses. Like I said before, I know how to spread a message—I’ve been doing it since I was 17. I’ve just traded late night raves for early evening public hearings.

It’s why I’m proud to celebrate Mother’s Day this year. I want my daughter to see the impact she’s made on my life, and why I’ve been pushing so hard. I’m 30 now, and the constant turbulence has slowed down to occasional bumps in the road. But for many others, that winding journey has only started, and I’m committed to providing the support they need to care for their children and to ultimately be successful.


Sade Moonsammy is Young Invincibles’ State Organizing Manager and a doula. As a Millennial parent, Sade is passionate about being an advocate and connecting new families and single mothers to the health care resources, education, and social services they need.

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As More Millennials Get Covered, Grassroots Push Aims To Take Enrollment Numbers To New Heights

By Jessica Adair

On Saturday, 2,500 people gathered at a park in downtown Houston to enjoy the outdoors ahead of the salty, sweaty heat that creeps up from the Gulf of Mexico come spring – and to take advantage of a major opportunity that presented itself, alongside Zumba classes, food trucks and prizes: affordable health care.

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Young families attend gather at an outdoor concert and health care event in Houston.

You read that right. In the middle of this outdoor fiesta, young Houstonians learned about low-cost insurance. As a preview to National Youth Enrollment Day – the biggest day of enrollment activities this year, organized by dozens of community organizations for Millennials – health care advocates mobilized young Texans to show up and sign up.

This outside-of-the-box effort to help young people get covered is being emulated nationwide this week at approximately 200 events across the country – and we expect every event will pay off.

Already, the data shows grassroots efforts to date are yielding good results. Young adults are already enrolling at a higher rate than they were at this point in Open Enrollment last year; 26% of this year’s enrollees are between the ages of 18 and 34. That number is likely to rise. During last year’s Open Enrollment period, many young adults waited until the last minute to sign up for coverage.

Event attendees in Houston

Event attendees in Houston

For young people, who may be shopping for health insurance for the first time, the health insurance sign-up process can seem daunting and expensive. But, nearly 90% of enrollees are eligible for financial assistance when they sign up for coverage through the marketplace. This is good news – and something to celebrate.

So that’s what we’re doing this week – celebrating, and inviting fellow Millennials nationwide to join us for events featuring entertainment and enrollment help.

Whether it’s Zumba in Houston, a concert in Philadelphia, a poetry slam in Chicago or enrollment at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we’re meeting young people where they are in order to help them learn about health insurance.

Though young people did get covered in high numbers during last year’s Open Enrollment period, nearly 1 in 5 young adults still lack health insurance. In 2013, the year before the Health Insurance Marketplace opened up, 3 out of every 5 personal bankruptcies were due to medical debt.

For young people who haven’t had the opportunity to accrue years’ worth of savings, one accident could wipe out their entire bank account.

The National Youth Enrollment Day fun doesn’t stop on the ground. We’re hosting a variety of events online to get the word out about health insurance. For example, join Young Invincibles on Instagram for health care trivia on Thursday! Check out #YoEnroll on Instagram and Twitter to see live updates of events across the nation.

Ready to see what all the fun is about? Go to to find an event near you!

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Surgeon General, Young Invincibles & Enroll America To Discuss Millennial Enrollment Efforts Ahead Of National Youth Enrollment Day

Approximately 200 Events Across The Country Will Encourage Millennials To Sign Up For Health Care Coverage This Week

January 27, 2015

Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org585.746.8281;
Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org214.223.2913;
Justin Nisly, jnisly@enrollamerica.org202.601.2494

[WASHINGTON] – On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, Young Invincibles, Enroll America and a young newly insured Millennial will host a conference call to discuss grassroots efforts to enroll Millennials nationwide around National Youth Enrollment Day, the biggest annual day of Millennial enrollment outreach across the country.

Please RSVP here to join us for tomorrow’s call.

Tuesday, January 27

WHAT: Conference call to discuss upcoming enrollment efforts tied to National Youth Enrollment Day

WHO: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, Executive Director of Young Invincibles Jen Mishory, President of Enroll America Anne Filipic and a young person who recently benefited from a new low-cost plan.

TIME: 2:30 pm ET

RSVP: Please reply here to join us on tomorrow’s call!

Following the call, approximately 200 young adult-focused health care fairs will take place across the country, along with a coordinated social media effort to provide young people with the facts and tools they need to get covered this enrollment season.


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How North Carolina Can Help Struggling Millennials, And Boost Its Economy

By Colin Seeberger

This week, North Carolina kicks off what is bound to be a raucous 2015 legislative session. With important debates looming around the state’s support for higher education and access to affordable health care for young North Carolinians, the state might as well call this session: the Millennial legislative session.

As economic recovery begins, the General Assembly must decide how to invest in the state’s future. It should start by looking at two systems it has neglected – higher education and health care – and how these decisions affect young adults and the state’s economy.

Recent cuts to higher education threaten to drive tuition prices higher. Since the Great Recession, North Carolina has cut higher education spending per student by 13%, helping drive tuition at its 4-year public universities up by 35% – or twice the rate of inflation.

It makes sense that during an economic downturn, North Carolina – like many states – cut corners. But today, as more people go back to work, it is not fair to ask North Carolina students to pay more in tuition while the state doles out corporate welfare.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what’s been happening. In fact, North Carolina faces a budget shortfall of nearly $200 million, largely due to a series of tax reforms.

Rather than reinvest in its young people, the state has prioritized additional tax cuts that threaten economic growth. The General Assembly and Governor must reinvest in higher education this year to change this – and fast. 

Yet combating college costs isn’t the only thing that North Carolina Millennials will keep an eye on this legislative session. There’s one other big economic challenge facing our generation. As the state’s most uninsured age group, young adults in North Carolina need expanded access to affordable health care coverage.

Unfortunately during the last legislative session, the General Assembly rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion to accept billions in federal funding to provide free health coverage to the state’s poorest adults. North Carolina decided 553,000 of its lowest-income residents were too poor to be given access to an affordable coverage option. Up to 47% of these North Carolinians locked out of affordable health care are Millennials.


Ultimately, those who are suffering from the General Assembly’s refusal are North Carolina’s hardest workers — many work in restaurants or retail stores, while many more are in school working towards a degree. In a recent survey, 69% of young adults who did not complete college said that having insurance would have helped them “a lot” at earning a degree. Because earning a college degree can improve a person’s chance of landing a job to contribute to the economy, North Carolina needs to make it easier for its Millennials to get a degree, not harder.

Yet North Carolina is choosing to leave $51 billion on the table by refusing to expand Medicaid, while suffering from a significant revenue shortfall. Expanding coverage isn’t just a decision that would give North Carolina’s uninsured population greater financial and health security, it would also improve the state’s fiscal health.

It’s time for the North Carolina legislature to say that the interests of its young people are more important than partisan bickering and strident ideologies – and critical to economic stability.

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Are Millennials Answering Dr. King’s Call To Service?

By Jessica Adair

One of the worst myths about Millennials is that we’re apathetic and politically disengaged. We’d rather voice our opinion over Twitter than at the ballot box. It’s true that our generation often goes to the polls in lower numbers than older voters and that some young adults report that it just doesn’t seem worth it to shift around political power that seems inefficient or at worse, ineffectual.

While we came of age, the economy tanked — not once, but twice if you count the Dot Com bubble burst and the Great Recession. Our government lost its basic ability to function during the shutdown of 2013. But the majority of our generation is volunteering and engaging in causes it believes in – and consequently, the possibilities for Millennial-driven change are endless, and worth exploring.

At Young Invincibles, for example, we’re working to make college affordable for everyone at statehouses across the country, urging legislators – alongside our peers who have been impacted by high tuition costs– to reinvest in higher education.  Broadly, we’re a generation of engaged citizens. In 2012, 73% of Millennials volunteered for a nonprofit organization, leading some pundits to call Millennials the “next Greatest Generation.” We care deeply about social injustice – and we haven’t only relied on politics to solve the problem.

As we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, it’s important to remember how change can be born outside of the existing political system. Young adults, such as those who helped organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), played a critical role in the Civil Rights movement. Students were often on freedom’s front lines, sometimes quite literally. When the local, state and the federal government didn’t work for students — or actively opposed them — young people risked life and limb to conduct sit-ins, boycotts, the Freedom Rides and massive voter registration drives.

mlk (2)Dr. King himself was a young man when he wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and delivered the famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Just one year later in 1964, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35 – the youngest person to receive the prize at that time.

As today’s young adults continue to struggle for equality, we’re equipped with many new tools for progress. With smartphones and hashtags, we disseminate information about what is happening in their communities and organize activists today. Whether you live in Missouri or Maine, you probably have heard about the #BlackLivesMatters protests. Nearly half of 18-to-29 year olds have learned more about a political or social issue because of something they saw on social media.

Beyond educating our generation about some of the biggest societal problems we face today, social media can drive action. When people realized that there was no database tracking police shootings in the United States, for example — critical data when trying to assess the scope and nature of police brutality – the collective Internet got together and made one.

At the core of Dr. King’s philosophy is this phrase: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” As we honor Dr. King’s life and commitment to justice, you can bet that Millennials will take this question to heart.

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Will Millennials Of The 114th Congress Stand Up For Millennials?

By Sarah Lovenheim

The freshman class of Congress is bringing age diversity to the halls of Capitol Hill, along with – we hope – a genuine desire to represent the Millennial generation!

Six years after the Great Recession, 18 to 34 year-olds confront a tough economy that could have rippling effects for decades: higher unemployment rates than face adults at large, soaring student loan debt hovering around $1.3 trillion, lower wages than at the start of the Great Recession, and on top of that, negative savings.

Reps. Gabbard and Schock, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Future Caucus. Image courtesy of CNN.

Reps. Gabbard and Schock, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Future Caucus. Image courtesy of CNN.

Last year, the average age in Congress was 57.  Student loan debt arose as an issue, but Congress wasn’t willing to move forward with solutions.

Could this year’s bloc of Millennial members help change this?

The new members on the block — or shall we say, of the 114th Congress – include the youngest woman elected to the House, Elise Stefanik of New York (Republican), age 30, and Carlos Curbelo of Florida (Republican), age 34.

By my count, they’re in good company, with seven other Millennials in the House, representing districts from California to Florida (I’m talking about Millennials born in 1980 or after).  Did I miss anyone?

Their peers, include: Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, age 34, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii (Democrat), age 33, Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts (Democrat), age 34, Patrick Murphy of Florida (Democrat), age 31, Aaron Schock of Illinois (Republican), Jason Smith of Missouri (Republican), 34 and Eric Swalwell of California (Democrat), age 33.

Will these talented young leaders stand up for their generation, and take on student loan debt as their big issue?

We certainly hope so! On the heels of President Obama’s speech on college affordability, the nation is looking to the Administration and Congress for policy solutions that could dig the Millennial generation out of the hole its stuck in, and benefit our economy for decades to come.

In an interview with National Journal last year about being a Millennial in Congress, Rep. Gabbard spoke of an “entrepreneurial spirit” that she suggested distinguishes Millennial members of Congress from older representatives to drive change: “The entrepreneurial spirit is present not only in business, but that innovation also has to happen in government. I think we have the opportunity to really shift the way things maybe have been done, to where you’re not afraid to sit down and collaborate and have a conversation.”

The new Millennials in Congress – and those serving for another consecutive year – could take those words to heart to drive real progress. In addition to serving their constituents of all ages, they represent the more than 90 million Millennials in the U.S. today.

As President Obama put it the other night, citing Senator Kennedy from his speech on college affordability, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress on education.” And today, that means making higher education more affordable for everyone.

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