Newsletter: We’ve got our sights on 2016 + we need your help

October is off to a solid start as a month of client building and 2016 planning for us here at Polithon. We closed out September with a great event in Florida and are working toward another event in Texas, while in talks with others for the end of this year/early next. As always, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest!

Florida Student Association: On September 26 and 27, our fearless leader, Julia Hurley, was down in Tallahassee, Florida, at Florida A&M University facilitating a polithon at the invitation of the Florida Student Association on student debt in the state. Over the course of a day and a half, 23 student government representatives from 8 public universities across Florida came together and crafted a detailed outline of policy prescriptions on student debt. They were assisted by experts from the Lumina FoundationFlorida College Access Network and Postsecondary Analytics, and focused mainly on reforming and increasing access to financial aid, increasing financial literacy, and ensuring timely degree completion. The first draft is off to experts for feedback before being developed into a full policy paper. Next, with the support of Young Invincibles, FSA will be advocating for the adoption of their solutions – and they’ve already gotten some interest….

Ohio results are in…: Did you catch our blog post on the results from our Ohio Polithon at Ohio State University in June? While it may not have been perfect, we were really happy with the outcome and the dedication of the participants. Check out what they came up with and what’s next for OH on the website!

Upcoming Polithons:

  • National Women’s Business Council, DC, December/Early 2016: After a few slight delays, we’re working to reschedule the NWBC Polithon for December or Early 2016 and should have lots more details after the first week of November.
  • Texas, November: Polithon + YI-South have teamed up to run a student debt focused polithon in Houston sometime in November. As soon as we firm up venue, we’ll have a concrete date and more info. Check out the website for more details and the application! 
Don’t just sit there, DO something!
As always, we appreciate your help and are putting out some calls to action:
  • Connections: We’re actively seeking out to clients to set up Polithon’s schedule for 2016 and we’d love your help! Do you have a connection to an existing advocacy organization, government agency, or company that is looking to better engage young people in policy? Or one that wants to bring more voices to the conversation on a specific issue? Put us in touch! Email Julia (julia@polithon.org) or Evanna (evanna@polithon.org) and make a connection to help expand our reach.
  • Donations: As you know, no organization can run without funding and while we’re focused on a sustainable, revenue generating model for Polithon, as we build that out, we still need your support. We’re seeking event specific funding in TX as well as general operating funds. Help us give our generation a voice in policymaking and invest in change!

Onward,
Julia + Evanna

Pivot!

Something I’ve learned very quickly as a new entrepreneur is that when something isn’t going right, it either means your target is off or you need to pivot because you’re not going in the right direction – even just a slight bit. As we’ve pressed forward developing Polithon into the organization we want to become, we’ve kept a running list of the problems, pitfalls, and solutions, making sure we’re holding ourselves accountable. We’re calling it our “lessons learned” doc and as things began to not work out as planned with our first anticipated Polithon of 2015 in Ohio, slated originally for this coming weekend, we dug deep to see what needed to shift.

Our original focus was only national – bring together 25 people in five different states, hack a national comprehensive solution through a full weekend hackathon, and then bring the winning team from each state to DC to compromise and come up with a final outcome to be pushed out. We thought we’d start big and then look locally and test the model on both levels separately.SS quote

What we’ve come to find though, is that people are even more eager for a chance to do something locally, especially since it’s tangible and in their own backyard. This also helps us determine where we can have the most impact during the early stages of Polithon as an organization.

So instead of a strictly national focus, we’ll be running Polithons in the same five states as planned – Ohio, California, Iowa, New Hampshire and Texas – but focusing on what the state governments can do to fix the issue. From there, the teams in each state with the best solutions will still be brought to DC in January of 2016 before the first caucuses of the Presidential Election, and hack a solution to the issue at the national level. These local and national outcomes will be developed into a full policy proposal which will be pushed out by local and national partners and acted upon.

This shift will also allow us to run the state level Polithons in just one day – typically a Saturday – and then have the final outcome document cleaned up and fully developed over the next 3-5 days via GoogleDocs and email before being sent to the judges for review. The event will still be preceded by an informal dinner on Friday and then run from roughly 9 am to 9 pm the following day. We hope this adjustment will make the events more accessible and facilitate a better overall outcome by ensuring local focus, collaboration, and buy-in. The national Polithon will still be run over a full weekend, helping us to further prove the different levels of the model.

Our mission, vision, and goals remain the same and even though this is just a small pivot, we wanted to make sure we remained as transparent as possible and kept our loyal supporters up to date. Thanks for continuing on this journey with us!

– Julia

And for laughs….the title reference via Friends: