Last week, we gathered for our final board meeting of the year. It was wonderful to come together in community, sharing the ideas and opportunities we will pursue in 2024 as we continue to advance our work in thoughtful ways. CSSP’s vision is ambitious and rooted in our values, and our mission has never felt more necessary than in this moment.
As many of you know, our Board meeting coincided with CSSP’s first Constituent Convening, an engagement designed to bring together representatives from three of our constituent initiatives: CARES; Youth Power, Parent Power; and Youth Thrive. The young adults serving on those initiatives are passionate, driven, and committed to leveraging our shared vision to advance justice for Black, Indigenous, Latiné, LGBTQ+, and immigrant youth and families. While in the nation’s capital, these young people had the opportunity to live our tagline: they truly turned ideas into action by learning from advocates and policymaking staffs, hearing from fellow ambassadors doing similar work, and, with their peers, designing creative solutions to drive policy and narrative change on a national and local level. Congresswoman Gwen Moore gave the keynote address and spoke at length about living a life of activism; I couldn’t agree more with her advice that “wherever you see the ‘problems’ in your life, that’s where your activism should start.” She reminded us that families belong together—and that policies should begin and end with that guidance.
Our CARES Ambassadors had the opportunity to practice Congresswoman Moore’s advice by venturing to Capitol Hill for one-on-one meetings with policymakers. For the past two years, they have been working closely with our policy team to co-create a national agenda detailing what supports we, as a nation, owe to young people. This co-created agenda recommends six overarching opportunities that all young people should have, including access to: economic supports; meaningful employment; affordable and responsive child care; affordable housing; supports that promote mental health and well-being; and meaningful connections to supportive adults. This work is more thoughtful and effective because it was achieved in partnership and provided an opportunity for the CARES Ambassadors to engage with policymakers on their ideas about what young people across the country need.
Some of our Ambassadors shared their ideas with staffers from the offices of Senator Bob Casey, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Children and Families on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Representative Sydney Kamlager–Dove, who represents California’s 37th district in Los Angeles and is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Representative Morgan McGarvey, who is a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and the Congressional Equality Caucus and whose policy work includes the introduction of the young adult tax credit.
Hosting a convening like this was a first for CSSP and one concrete way that we are evolving in our approach, putting ideas into action, and living our values as an organization. To that end, we are honored to welcome Leticia Peguero as our new board chair, effective January 2024. Leticia has been a member of our board since 2021, and so knows CSSP well; she brings with her a dedication to racial justice and a breadth of experience in social justice work that is unmatched, and I look forward to all that we will accomplish together.
There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon for CSSP and we are ready and able to take on whatever the new year holds. While we are excited for new challenges and opportunities, our commitments and values remain consistent. We are all devoted every day to finding new and innovative ways to do this work and I look forward to all the ways we will collaborate to advance bigger and bolder ideas—particularly in the spaces of economic justice, health justice, and family autonomy—contributing to a more equitable and anti-racist world. I am proud to lead this organization and work alongside such dedicated staff and I am particularly excited for what we—the staff, the board, and our external partners—can do together.