Dilos is on a gap year after graduating from high school in New York this spring. He is a co-founder and community director of Civics Unplugged, a nonprofit that arranges training and funding for efforts by people in their teens and 20s to strengthen American democracy.
The United States has always been a land of hopes, dreams and wishes for a better future. Each generation has played a role in turning some element of that vision into a more prosperous and fair life, but there is so much more to be done. Young people have always driven change; after all, we have to live the longest with the outcomes of the decisions happening now.
For us all to keep moving forward, we must support and uplift those from younger generations. And it starts with listening to our needs, concerns and priorities.
Founded last year, my organization is committed to empowering Generation Z to take the lead in everything we do, and supporting us through our journey to make change. We have worked closely with 200 members of my generation to create Civics 2030, a campaign to turn our visions into reality.
The best way to empower young people to create change is through an intergenerational network of support, knowledge sharing and financial backing. Throughout the coming decade, we have committed to mobilizing and training the thousands of young "civic superheroes" that our democracy needs to thrive.
Sharing an understanding of history is a core part of our work. It's part of the reason we signed on to partner with Made By Us, joining more than 60 history and civics organizations nationwide to empower younger generations, and to participate in My Wish For U.S., a platform that invites anyone who cares about the future of our country to contribute their vision.
When we asked our Gen Z fellows their wish for the future of the United States, what they decided on — together — is a statement that might just help us all to achieve our individual goals:
"We wish for an America where transparent leadership leads to trust between the government and the people it serves, where participation in the political system is defined by its ease-of-access so that all Americans may take part in their democracy, and where political authority and input are equally achievable across all social groups."
We're using history as a tool to help us get there. Throughout our time with our high school fellows, we incorporate historical case studies to help show them how to correctly pick out trends, concepts and best practices to take with them when they go out into their communities.
The ability to think from the perspective of an entire system, including the historical context, is crucial to the success of Civics 2030 — and the revitalization of democracy.
If a system was unjustly designed in the past, and rejected the ideals of an equal democratic community, it is important to understand what injustice that system can perpetuate today.
Looking into the past has also modeled how to create change. History has taught us that progress is not just achieved by those with money or power, but also by those who have a strong community behind them — like the students who organized the sit-ins 60 years ago this month in Greensboro, N.C., or Malala Yousafzai's activism in this decade for better education of girls worldwide.
So many successful change initiatives in history started with a small group of passionate people with a vision for something better than the status quo. Moreover, history shows these movements are built slowly, through momentum and work that ends up empowering millions. We took these lessons into the design of Civics 2030 as an empowerment platform — a movement that would inspire millions to unleash their own civic potential.
Our philosophy pushes us to imagine a better world, and to talk about our visions for the future no matter how far fetched they may be. The My Wish For U.S. platform encourages a space for others to share the same mindset — always thinking about a better world, and working to help us get there. We want to directly empower thousands of young civic superheroes so that their work, energy and ideas spread through their communities, and inspire everyone to begin to make necessary changes.
Through the work we do, we know we'll get there. But it starts with a vision. We've shared ours, so now share yours: What's your wish for America's future?
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