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"Like many of us, young people have been politically silenced by the power of big money in politics," writes Adonal Foyle (center).

Students know democracy matters

Foyle is the founder and president of Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan student organization mentoring the next generation of leaders dedicated to strengthening our democracy.

When I was drafted by the NBA's Golden State Warriors in 1987, a dream came true. But I had another dream during the 13 years that I played in the NBA. That was to help students throughout the country have a voice in their democracy. I wanted to give back to those who had helped make me become politically aware in college. So along with my adopted parents who were professors at Colgate University, I founded Democracy Matters. I knew that students cared about the environment, health care, women's and LGBTQ rights, gun violence, mass incarceration and more. I knew they wanted to make a difference by being politically effective, but they often didn't know how to go about it.

Like many of us, young people have been politically silenced by the power of big money in politics. Big money campaign donors dominate our elections with their ability to overwhelmingly determine who runs for office, who wins and how they vote when elected. The use of restrictive rules to deny young people and others the right to vote has made them feel they don't have a voice — that politicians don't care what they think.

Democracy Matters' college and high school chapters are pushing back against apathy and cynicism by becoming organizers on their campuses. As a nonprofit and nonpartisan national student organization, DM mentors and mobilizes high school and college students to become political activists. By emphasizing the necessity of a strong and inclusive democracy, DM engages young people in the struggle for reforms that will make their voices heard and respected in the political process.

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