On June 3, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network recognized Teens Leading the Way (TLTW) as the winner of this year’s Advocacy award. Young adult leaders and staff members visited the State House once again – this time to join hundreds of nonprofit, government, and business at the State House to celebrate Nonprofit Awareness Day: A Celebration of Nonprofit Excellence, a statewide holiday honoring the contributions of nonprofits in Massachusetts.
The youth leaders of TLTW are celebrating major successes that led to this Advocacy award. In 2018, Teens Leading the Way celebrated major policy victories when Governor Baker signed an iteration of our expungement bill into law. This victory marked a tremendous legislative landmark for youth-led policymaking and for young adult justice improvements in the Commonwealth – and a major win for the young adults who launched this campaign over six years ago.
TLTW youth organizer Stephanie Bellapianta, from Haverhill, said, “Thanks to the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network for recognizing all the young people in TLTW who worked so hard to advocate for change over the years. We know that when youth are given the opportunity to be a part of the civic process, we can rise to the occasion and be great citizens.”
“Our youth organizers have seen unprecedented success this last year, both with the new expungement law, but also with a civics education law that was passed by the legislature. These victories validate the idea that if you engage in our democracy and refuse to give up on the legislative process, you can eventually make change. Now our youth organizers can be proud of the legacy they left on our laws, in addition to the lifelong civic skills and knowledge they’ll take with them forever,” said Geoff Foster, UTEC’s Director of Organizing. UTEC is the lead agency in coordinating the coalition.
TLTW alumni have gone on to do great things, including running successfully for mayor of a major city (current Mayor of Holyoke, Alex Morse) and running successfully for State Representative (State Representative Andy Vargas of Haverhill). The true success of TLTW is both in our civic outcomes of the organizers themselves, in addition to the systems-change advocated for by its members.
More about TLTW: Teens Leading the Way (TLTW) is a statewide, youth-led policymaking coalition which seeks to empower youth to create lasting change through policymaking. TLTW is made up of youth organizers, ages 16-24, from low-income and immigrant communities across Massachusetts, including Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, Worcester, Lynn, Everett, and Haverhill.
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Source: Lowell Sun