We are living in a critical moment in time. A moment in which the media highlights the polarizing differences between communities across the nation. A moment in which teenagers are watching politicians attack the character of others rather than their ideas. A moment in which it seems every action taken in our nation’s capital is partisan rather than done with our country’s best interests in mind. In these moments, it becomes easy to shut out other perspectives on policy as inherently wrong and close off your mind from new ideas. It is excruciatingly more difficult to take the chance to listen to someone who has a completely different background than you with an open mind and engage in a productive, intellectual and respectful discussion. Creating this situation for high school students across the United States is what Purple America strives to do. With our mission in mind, we’ve highlighted the key, relevant aspects of our organization below:
- Fully Online – By hosting this program online, we are taking away the geographic “political bubbles” that exist in many communities and allow students the chance to broaden the types of perspectives that they are exposed to. With access to a laptop of mobile device, students can instantly begin to participate in face-to-face, facilitated conversations. Whether students are from rural farms, small towns, residential suburbs or the center of a city, they all come together on our platform with only three expectations placed on them: that they keep an open mind, they are respectful, and that they move the conversation forward.
- Student-Led – One of the key parts of our mission is to promote student leadership, especially regarding politics and social issues. As such, our organization is student-led from individual school representatives to discussion facilitators to our leadership positions. Students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to gain leadership positions throughout their involvement with the program. However, we do have adult advisers and nonprofit partners who provide input on specialized aspects of our program.
- Non-Partisan Guarantee – We are a non-partisan organization whose leadership positions are open to students from across the political spectrum. Our end goal is not for students to “convert” to different opinions, but for students who participate in our program to leave with the experience handling difficult conversations and the mindset necessary for future political leaders and voting citizens to have.
Although as high-school students without voting rights we have limited opportunities to make an impact on our current political environment, it is never too early for us to start shaping an even more productive and tolerant future for our nation. I hope you are all inspired to join Purple America individually, join an existing club or start a new Purple America club at your schools.