Updated: Aug 16, 2020
The Greater Good Initiative all started on a Facetime call between two political nerds at 3:00 AM back in early April of this year.
We met in the summer of 2019 through the High School Leaders Program at the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. We spent two weeks together learning about Virginia government and politics, the policymaking process, and what has led to the immense polarization along party lines that exists in the modern United States. The Sorensen Institute holds three primary core values: trust, civility, and respect. The concepts of good governance and working across party lines resonated deeply with both of us; so often in the modern political landscape, it can be hard to find examples of politicians with different views on policy, social issues, and party affiliation working together. The Sorensen Institute is working to not just break the stigma around identity politics, but also to inspire politically-minded people of all ages to create those examples of political collaboration and discourse. When creating The Greater Good Initiative, we knew trust, respect, and civility needed to be at the forefront of our organization and the work we are doing.
GGI was initially thought to be a youth-mobilized response to the COVID-19 pandemic from a policy standpoint. By early April, the emergence of political polarization surrounding the pandemic was starting to become acutely evident, and we wanted to build a network and harness the power of young changemakers to create and advocate for policy solutions that tackled issues surrounding COVID-19. We spent time cultivating a list of our peers, political colleagues that we wanted to pitch the organization to, and we very quickly saw the vision for GGI snowball into something bigger. After our kickoff event, a COVID-19 Town Hall, we saw people of all ages, all races, and all walks of life, telling their pandemic stories. We saw that the need for change surpassed far beyond COVID-19; the momentum was there from the start, and that momentum certainly hasn’t slowed down.
With 5 policy sectors and over 80 younger people, we have witnessed the power of the power in policy, the power of youth, and most importantly the power of dynamic minds envisioning dynamic ideas. We are wholly committed to being the generation that brings the ideals of empathy and equity to the world of public policy.
And this is just the start. We are looking for young changemakers– activists, politically engaged advocates, future business leaders, and more– to join our team. As young people, we are entering a sphere in which we don’t see a lot of youth presence. However, we are prepared to show our legislators, at all levels of government, that the power is in the youth.