YI Colorado is gearing up for the upcoming legislative session starting in January 2023, and young adults across the state are hungry for change. In our engagement with young adults this year, we reached an unprecedented twenty-nine different municipalities and seventeen different counties in Colorado (including young folks from rural communities). Through roundtables, surveys, polls and conversations with young adults across our state, we heard over and over again that youth furthest from power, privilege, and economic opportunities were hit hardest during the pandemic. Rural students, Black and Brown young adults, and LGBTQ+ youth faced significant barriers compared to their white peers in accessing higher education and healthcare. The pandemic widened existing racial gaps in income, wealth, and financial well-being. As businesses closed, Black and Brown young people were the most likely to lose their jobs, which often led to hardships meeting basic needs like food and housing. The barrier of student debt has further inhibited both short-term savings and long-term wealth generation for young adults. We are committed to addressing these barriers, and will place a unique emphasis on easing the financial burden of young adults in 2023.
Every year, young adult voice is at the center of our policy agenda development. Our annual youth engagement process starts at the end of the legislative session, in May. We host roundtable sessions with young adults across the state, send surveys to our network of young adults and the networks of our partners, run a nationwide poll with an oversampling in Colorado and spend several months analyzing the data we’ve collected for phase two. Once we’ve taken this “pulse” on what matters most to the young adults in Colorado, we synthesize the stories, opinions, and requests from the young adults into our big picture agenda draft. We then go through several rounds of feedback with our Youth Advisory Board, our Young Advocates, our alumni network and our partners to ensure our agenda is inclusive and is meeting the most pressing needs. It’s only then that we start developing coalitions, thinking through specific bill ideas and training the incredible young adults in our program to share their lived experience in a way that makes large-scale change in their communities. Although this process is time and resource-consuming, we’re always blown away by the phenomenal leadership of the young adults who guide us. We’re proud this year, like every year, to share with you what we’re hearing from the young adults in Colorado, and how, together, we can fight to make life better for them.
To conclude our Annual Pulse series, we investigated the various challenges that young adults face when pursuing opportunities in higher education, building a professional career with access to economic opportunity, or receiving high quality, affordable healthcare.
So what’s the Colorado Young Adult Pulse?
We hope you dig into the information below and work shoulder to shoulder with us this session in reimagining Colorado. Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved with our 2023 Policy Agenda by signing up for our Newsletter.