YEO Network Policy Academies bring together influential young elected officials and our strategic partners – policy makers, community practitioners, and issue experts – in a compelling and critical dialogue that produces tangible policy outcomes. The Academies provide YEOs with the tools necessary to develop effective strategies, programs, and policies that address our featured topics and to replicate successes seen around the country.
The YEO Policy Academy model brings together a targeted group of YEOs for a powerful three-day weekend of advanced policy analysis, with the goal of educating and equipping state and community leaders with the skills necessary to address pressing policy issues. As a network of more than 1,000 progressives at every level of government, the YEO Network is uniquely poised to connect our members with partners and the best available research and data.
Following the Academy, each participating YEO makes a yearlong commitment to develop and deploy a specific Policy Action Plan, with support and ongoing technical assistance from the YEO Network, including regularly scheduled check-ins, teleconferences on supplementary and complementary topics, and an online forum for YEOs to continue policy exchange and discussion.
Learn more about our most recent policy academies
Justice Reform and Community Reinvestment Policy Academy
march 2018 | new Orleans, Louisiana
50 young elected officials – who believe that our nation’s highest ideals are in stark contrast with our harshest realities – gathered in Louisiana to receive an in depth training on effective justice reform policies.
The four day Justice Reform and Community Reinvestment Policy Academy began on Thursday with an opening reception where our YEOs got the chance to come together, build fellowship, and discuss the importance of the issues our communities are facing. We then opened Friday with a keynote address from Wade Henderson, former President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Then the elected officials participated in deep dive policy sessions on police violence, improving police-community relations, and reducing racial disparities in our criminal and juvenile justice systems. We heard from top policy experts, innovators, and community organizers who have been leading the fight to reform our justice systems.
We concluded Friday with our second keynote speaker, Dr. Mary Frances Berry, who currently serves on the board of directors of People For the American Way (PFAW). Dr. Berry has been one of the most visible and inspiring activists on civil rights, gender equality, and social justice in the United States in recent history.
The following day the elected were introduced to cutting edge policy ideas focused on mental health and the criminal justice system, the criminalization of poverty and re-entry to society, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Then our YEOs joined thousands of people of every age, race, and background to take to the streets of New Orleans for the March for Our Lives to demand that our elected leaders take measures to protect our children and end gun violence in our schools.
After the march, we headed to a reception at Dryades Public Market, where we listened to local business leaders who built a fully grocery story in what was once a food desert. They’ve used their hiring, promotions and events to make sure this kind of community reinvestment benefits the historically disenfranchised black community.
We started the final day of the conference with a discussion on how America’s Cabinet can help lead the push for real and effective criminal justice reform. We followed that session with a panel discussion on the challenges women face in the criminal justice system and what elected officials can do to help formerly incarcerated women become active members of society again.
Then we listened to powerful remarks by our featured speaker and the Mayor of Stockton, CA, Michael Tubbs, who shared his success gaining private funds for universal basic income projects and to send every child in his school district to College.
Every single attendee created a policy action plan – a clear, measurable and achievable goal related to justice reform that they will bring back to their community. Over the next year the YEO staff will provide them the support they need to enact their plan. In this way our weekend of learning and fellowship will translate to real improvements in the lives of the millions of people represented by these young elected officials.
Clean Energy & Environmental Justice Policy Academy
February 2016 | Denver, Colorado
The YEO Network, in partnership with NextGen Climate, held its largest policy academy to date on Clean Energy and Environmental Justice. The event took place in Denver, Colorado, with more than 80 young electeds in attendance from across the country.
We opened the four day conference with a reception on Thursday night, where we heard from Colorado Majority Leader and YEO Crisanta Duran, NextGen Climate’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Fryday, Youth Leadership Programs Director Andrew Gillum, and former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. The policy sessions began the following day, with panels on everything from creating a clean and equitable energy transition to coalition building for the climate movement; we heard from innovators, entrepreneurs and environmental justice champions; and we ended the day with a field trip to the National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where YEOs met with industry professionals and toured wind turbines and facilities.
The conference continued with cutting-edge sessions on sustainable and smart urban growth, resiliency, and the Clean Power Plan; they heard from national movement leaders; and they had the chance to learn from other YEOs, such as Dominic Frongillo of Elected Officials to Protect New York and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. Throughout the day YEOs also had the chance to share best practices and models from their own cities and towns, and they ended with a polling and messaging training.
On the final day, YEOs heard about the next 10 years of the climate movement and practical steps that could make an impact in their own communities; the group completed personal policy action plans and also organized as a collective around support for the Clean Power Plan, a national day of action, and the call for 50 percent renewables by the year 2030. The conference concluded with a powerful keynote by Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, who talked about the connections between systemic racism, inequality, and the environment. We will continue our work with this group in the years to come, as we provide ongoing resources and technical support to advance YEOs’ personal action plans.