We all know the youth are our future. And if Gen Z is any indication of what the future holds, we might be alright too.
With the power of the internet and social media, Generation “Z” has taken activism by storm. Youth organizations centered on social justice activism and advocacy are popping up left and right, a sign that the youth are fed up with the current systems of injustice, and are ready to make some serious changes. If you’re interested in learning more about what Gen Z is up to in their spare time, check out the list below!
Reverse The Trend
Reverse The Trend is an organization that seeks to provide educational resources for young activists who want to get engaged on the issues of climate change and nuclear disarmament. The educational resources RTT provides are meant to help young activists understand the intersections of these two existential threats, and encourages using art in movement building. With a focus on amplifying the voices and experiences of frontline community members, RTT also encourages young activists to share their local histories and stories, highlighting the importance of lived experiences in shaping policy. PSR is a proud partner of RTT, and fully agrees with their motto that “youth must rise up and take action to change the world.”
You can read more about RTT here: rttreversingthetrend.org.
Gen Z for Change
Social media has proven to be an extremely effective tool in activism and advocacy– and no one does social media better than Gen Z. Gen Z For Change is a youth organization that “leverages the power of social media to educate our generation, encourage and mobilize civic participation, shift political debate, and enact change.” A values-based organization, their ethos centers justice, equity and accountability. The issues they focus on run the gamut: climate justice, criminal justice, disability rights, economic security, education, foreign relations, free and fair elections, gender equality and reproductive rights, gun safety, health justice, immigration, indigenous rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial justice.
If you want to learn more about Gen Z For Change and the power of digital organizing, check out their website here: genzforchange.org.
CTBTO Youth Group
Started in January 2016, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Youth Group (CYG) is a niche youth organization that has created a new generation to fight for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its verification regime. The CTBT is a treaty that bans nuclear explosions everywhere, by everyone. The treaty is only eight key signatories away from ratification and universalization– the United States being one of them. More importantly, the CTBTO and its verification regime is fully functioning despite the treaty not going into effect yet, and has been critical in identifying North Korean missile tests, as well as helping with Tsunami warnings, and better understanding things like the ocean, volcanoes, climate change– and even the movement of whales.
Made up of students and young professionals from over 117 countries around the world, the CYG dedicates their careers to help push for global peace and security, understanding that the CTBT and the CTBTO are crucial to that mission. The CTBTO has even made sure that the CYG has a seat at the table in the United Nations to ensure that the youth are being heard on these important issues. You can find out more about the CYG at youthgroup.ctbto.org.
Nuclear Free Schools
“If no one teaches our youth about the consequences of nuclear conflict, who will pick up after our aging experts and world leaders?” This important question posed by Nuclear Free Schools illustrates the importance of youth engagement in activism and advocacy. Nuclear Free Schools is a youth activism project with the goal of helping to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons. Spearheaded by high school teacher Andrew King and his former high school students Cristopher Cruz and Edgar Lopez, this project encourages high school students to get engaged in activism, highlighting that you don’t have to have a degree in order to understand the existential threat of nuclear weapons. (The photo is Edgar Lopez testifying at LA City Council for the LA Back from the Brink resolution.)
In 2017 and with the help of PSR-LA, Nuclear Free Schools held the first ever youth-oriented nuclear disarmament conference. They’ve gone on to participate in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Human Resource Development Conference, and so much more. Read more about Nuclear Free Schools here: nuclearfreeschools.com
Student Pugwash USA
Student Pugwash USA is a nonpartisan youth organization focused on social responsibility in science and technology. Their membership ranges from high school students, to postgrads and young professionals. Their specific focus is on science and technology that could lead to extreme dangers or the extinction of humankind, like nuclear weapons. Beyond providing opportunities for members to put on presentations and engage in debates, Student Pugwash USA also trains and organizes their members to become better advocates for Pugwash and their mission, and pushes for their members to become activists for the issues they care about.
Find out more about Student Pugwash USA at studentpugwash.org.
Are you aware of–or involved in–a youth group that isn’t listed here? We would like to hear about it – please email Jasmine Owens, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Lead Organizer and Policy Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.