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Tufts Student Leaders Present at National Summit on Youth Voter Engagement

Monday, July 1, 2019

Tisch College's Peter de Guzman, who spearheaded our JumboVote initiative, joined the Tufts undergraduates as they shared their experiences and mentored other students from across the country.

Matthew Tolbert, Lidya Woldeyesus, and Peter de Guzman

This past June, Tufts undergraduates Lidya Woldeyesus, A22, and Matthew Tolbert, A21, joined Tisch College’s Student Outreach Coordinator Peter de Guzman, A18, at the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s 2019 National Civic Leadership Training Summit, where they presented on voter registration strategies and mentored fellow college students from across the country.

The National Civic Leadership Training Summit (NCLTS) is one of the signature events of the Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF), a national organization dedicated to youth leadership development and access to voting. The foundation was established by the family of Andrew Goodman, one of three activists (along with Michael Schwerner and James Chaney) murdered in 1964 by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to register African Americans in Mississippi to vote. It currently supports chapters at 59 college campuses in 25 states.

All three young Jumbos who attended the summit have been remarkable civic leaders on and off campus, particularly focused on voter education and engagement. Woldeyesus is an Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassador, a Tisch Scholar, and currently a Tisch Summer Fellow at the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Tolbert is also an Andrew Goodman Ambassador and student co-chair of Tufts’ nonpartisan student voting initiative JumboVote, which was spearheaded this year by de Guzman.

This year’s three-day summit, which took place at Montclair State University, featured panels and breakout sessions on topics such as digital organizing, volunteer mobilization, coalition building, and the 2020 Census. Woldeyesus and Tolbert were selected by the summit’s organizers to share the voter registration tactics they utilized at Tufts during two workshops: “Campus Action Planning 101: Setting Goals with Your Landscape in Mind” and “Campus Action Planning 102: Identifying Strategies, Tactics, and Timelines.” Both students drew on their extensive experience registering and mobilizing voters for the 2018 midterm elections as Andrew Goodman Fellows and through the JumboVote initiative. They also shared insights gleaned from Tufts’ NSLVE reports, which detail student voting and registration rates on our campus, as part of the signature study from Tisch College’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE).

In addition to their own presentations, Woldeyesus, Tolbert, and de Guzman attended numerous sessions to further their own learning and development and further their upcoming efforts to engage students in democracy. Woldeyesus and Tolbert are looking forward to working with their peers on campus to prepare students for the 2020 election, and they left the conference with a defined action plan for expanding JumboVote’s outreach.

"As team lead this year for our AGF chapter, I am prioritizing outreach to more students of color on campus. Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner were murdered for registering black people to vote in Mississippi. 55 years later we cannot forget the salient role that race, and ethnicity has in our democracy," said Woldeyesus. "We are missing the mark if we don’t design race-specific outreach plans when talking about voter mobilization in the United States. At Tufts, this means working with the Group of Six, the International House, and other affinity groups to ensure that we are pushing for a more inclusive and representative democracy."

"From continuing and expanding our work during orientation, to building on our relationships with the cities of Medford and Somerville, to extending our collaboration efforts with affinity groups on campus, I believe that NCLTS has prepared us for the road ahead," added Tolbert. "Now it’s time to get to work.”