City of Philadelphia Launches “First Vote 2020” to Engage Youth Ahead of the 2020 Election

PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia announced today that it is launching First Vote 2020 to engage and include young people who have never voted before in the upcoming 2020 election. Next year, the most diverse generation in American history will have the opportunity to leave their mark on races up and down the ballot, including the presidential primary and general elections. 

First Vote 2020 is a coordinated voter education and registration effort from the Office of Youth Engagement, Philadelphia Youth Commission and Committee of Seventy with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Education, School District of Philadelphia and Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners. Through original programming, these organizations will work to activate youth leading up to and through next year’s election cycle. Though young people under 18 are unable to vote, they are affected by uninformed voting or voter apathy among adults and even their older peers. First Vote 2020 is a call to action for young people—high school age and above—to learn about and understand the importance of exercising their civic duty as Americans, while also encouraging them to spread the urgency of voter education and voting to peers, their families, and others in their communities.  

“It is clear that young people in Philadelphia and across the country are paying attention to what is happening in their government at the local, state and federal levels,” said Jeanette Bavwidinsi, Director for the Office of Youth Engagement. “We have seen them lead marches against climate change, speak out on gun violence, and make their way to the polls in record numbers. With the 2020 election, the potential impact of first time voters will be greater than ever; and even for those who are unable to vote next year, they have the power to engage others in their community who may be misinformed or who feel apathetic about the election process.”

The Office of Youth Engagement will engage 9th-12th graders in a small cohort of high schools over the next 12 months with regular workshops, volunteer and job opportunities, a vibrant social media campaign featuring fireside chats with millennial public servants and politicians, and other special events. 

Students from Murrell Dobbins, South Philadelphia, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, and George Washington high schools will have a unique opportunity to better understand the voting process, talk about why civic engagement is important, develop ways to talk to loved ones about their potential impact, and learn about opportunities to work or volunteer on Election Day.  

“Through First Vote 2020, the City and our partners at Committee of Seventy are committed to helping Philadelphia’s young people harness their power over the next year,” said Ajeenah Amir, Director for the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement “This is an opportunity to engage them, not just in the upcoming elections, but in a number of issues that are impacting their everyday lives.”

The Committee of Seventy will expand upon their recently piloted and award-winning voting simulation program and curriculum offered in select Philadelphia schools this fall. The program provides students with a tangible experience of what it takes to be an informed voter, and equips teachers to have substantive conversations about politics and elections. 

“Voting is a habit. And habits are best formed early, and more easily formed through the encouragement of peers and respected leaders. Through Seventy’s partnership with the City and School District, we hope to promote a culture of voting in our schools and across the city, ” said Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh.

Using the hashtag #FirstVotePHL, the Office of Youth Engagement and other First Vote 2020 partners will chronicle the lives of first-time voters and young Philadelphians as they immerse themselves in the 2020 election and become more civically engaged individuals.

About the Office of Youth Engagement

The Office of Youth Engagement (OYE) was created in 2017 to be a megaphone for the voices of young people in Philadelphia. OYE does this by creating original programming, providing policy recommendations, forging relevant partnerships, and elevating the amazing work Philadelphia’s youth. OYE houses the Philadelphia Youth Commission and the Millennial Advisory Committee.

About the Committee of Seventy

The Committee of Seventy is an independent nonprofit advocate for better politics and better government in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For more information, see