Making Policy

We’re taking on the biggest issues facing our generation, and when we win, we build a better Colorado for everyone. The decisions our elected officials make now will impact us for the rest of our lives—so our leaders need to take young people, and the issues impacting us, seriously. To do that, we train young leaders to deliver testimony on bills in the Capitol, mobilize students and other young people to make hundreds of calls to their legislators, and, of course, make sure our generation shows up at the polls so they know we can’t be ignored. Through our efforts we’ve passed some of the best pro-voter laws in the country, protections for student loan borrowers, and innovative climate policies

In the past, some of the people most impacted by the decisions made in the halls of the Capitol—young people, LGBTQ people, Black and Brown people, lower-income people—have been excluded from the conversation. Now we have the chance to uplift our diverse and progressive generation and make sure those marginalized voices lead the conversation—while that can’t happen without conscious effort, we’re determined to make it a core part of our work.

We believe that our democracy is stronger when we all participate, so we tear down barriers to access. We believe that bodily autonomy is a basic right, so we fight shame and stigma around abortion. We believe that our economy should work for more than just the extremely wealthy, so we pass policies to make college affordable and make sure everyone receives a living wage. And we believe climate change is a crisis that demands urgent action, so we work at every level of government to reduce carbon emissions. Lastly, we believe that young people have a role in every major fight in politics, so we work with partners and campaigns to make sure young voices are part of every conversation.

Broke AF

Three students hold up photo petitions in support of legislation tackling the student debt crisisOur generation is Broke AF. Forget hot takes about avocado toast, because it’s systemic failures that are crushing us—$1.6 trillion in student debt, low wages and prohibitive housing costs. And these economic challenges are felt most heavily by young people of color, young Black people, young women, and young people in low-income communities.

The impact of our generation’s financial challenges are far-reaching and won’t go away unless we take action. When young people are paying back mountains of student debt, getting paid low wages, and paying skyrocketing rents, they’re prevented from saving for their future, caring for their families, obtaining quality healthcare, buying a house, saving up for retirement, and more.

We’ve already seen major victories tackling student debt with commonsense bills in the state legislature, but it doesn’t end there. While student debt is an urgent crisis, we’re also determined to get to the root of the problem by making college accessible to everyone, regardless of a person’s financial circumstances.

Beyond higher education, we’re supporting other key progressive fights around economic justice, including making sure all workers are paid a living wage and establishing statewide paid family leave.

Fighting for our climate future

Student holds up a photo petition that says "I vote like the earth depends on it"The climate crisis is less than 11 years away from causing irrevocable damage to the entire world. Our generation will directly suffer the consequences of climate change and our government hasn’t done close to enough to address one of the biggest threats of our time. We refuse to accept that.

In Colorado, we’re working to ensure we set  a course of action for the rest of the country to follow, using every tool at our disposal. Our communities have endured the effects of climate change through massive wildfires, extreme flooding, and devastating droughts; and we cannot stand by and watch these disasters grow more severe by the year. That is why we, along with other youth organizations, are leading the way in local and state politics to eradicate fossil fuel emissions and protect Colorado. We can’t wait to be the leaders of tomorrow, we have to start by fighting for our future now.

Abortion Rights are Human Rights

Brazen cohort member Paola teaches her peers at abortion trainingWe envision a Colorado where anyone who needs an abortion can get one safely, in a timely manner, with dignity, respect, and support. That’s why we launched The Brazen Project, a student-led initiative dedicated to ending shame and stigma around abortion and empowering our peers to speak up and speak out about abortion access. We lift up real stories about abortion because we know this is about people, not politics. And when politicians use our bodies as political footballs, their abortion restrictions have the biggest impact on already marginalized communities, including low-income communities, womxn of color, immigrant womxn, young folks, and people with disabilities. 

Our generation is refusing to stay silent. We support students organizing on their college campuses to fight abortion stigma, to build support for abortion access, to share their stories, and to help students to advocate for better policies.

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Why not shoot for the stars in our lifetimes? We believe young people will vote at the same rate or *better* than older demographics if we remove the unique barriers to access we face. Voting isn’t everything, but it signals power, and we’re all about leveraging that power to make meaningful change. That’s why we’re so focused on making Colorado the best place to vote in the country.

From our work on the ground registering and turning out voters for more than a decade, we know the ins and outs of Colorado elections. Which means we know exactly how to make voting more accessible—and we’ve made it happen. 

Thanks to our efforts, Colorado’s young voters consistently turnout at some of the highest rates in the country. We’ll continue to look for ways to make more improvements, because we believe everyone should have a voice in our democracy.

Victories led by New Era
New Era organizer smiles and gives a thumbs up next to a sign that says Vote Today on Campus

Colorado Votes Act


Expanding polling locations to most universities and community colleges in Colorado, allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they’ll be 18 by the general, making our elections more accessible and secure. This was one of the most comprehensive improvements to Colorado’s elections, making us one of the best states in the country for youth voter access.

Find out more >
Group poses behind Governor Polis as he signs student loan servicer accountability into law

Student Loan Servicer Accountability Act


Student loan servicers routinely hand out wrong information and push borrowers into worse payment plans, adding to an already massive student debt problem. We brought oversight to that industry–bringing it up to the same standard as literally every other type of major loan servicer—to make sure the process of repaying student loans is at least fair and transparent, and gave Colorado’s borrowers a watchdog at the Attorney General’s office to make sure our state has our borrowers’ backs.

Find out more >
Group poses with photo petitions in support of action on student debt

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Notification


Far too many people qualifying for public service loan forgiveness aren’t aware of their eligibility. To make matters worse, predatory loan servicers often mislead borrowers directly about their eligibility. This simple change assures everyone knows whether they qualify and can take advantage of loan forgiveness.

Find out more >
Blue and white duotone image of a group at the Youth Activists for Abortion Access Summit



Through the Brazen Project we launched the biggest youth-centered pro-abortion training in Colorado, called the Youth Activists for Abortion Access Summit (YAAAS). To build young leaders in the reproductive rights, health, and justice movement, we taught, trained, and connected young people interested in organizing to increase access to abortion and fight against abortion stigma.

Four students smile as they register to vote

Voter Pre-Registration


We made sweet 16 even sweeter when we passed this bill to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote—at the DMV, online, with a voter registration drive, etc.. When they turn 18 their registration automatically activates (or sooner, now, for those eligible for the primary)! More than 100,000 Coloradans have used the law since.

Find out more >
Group holds photo petitions in support of local power in Boulder

Campaign for Local Power

2011 (& 2013 & 2017)

Since 2011, we’ve been the lead organization on the ground pushing the city of Boulder to create a locally-owned, clean energy-powered electric utility by breaking away from Xcel Energy. We passed the ballot measure to initiate this effort in 2011, and defended it again in 2013 (see: viral video) and again in 2017. This effort is a model for other communities—like Pueblo—seeking local control, cheaper utility bills, and more renewables!

Find out more >
Screenshot of Register to Vote website

Online Voter Registration


Since we passed this bill in 2009, Colorado’s online voter registration system has processed over 2 million voter registrations and address updates. That’s h-u-g-e. Removing hurdles to register to vote and making sure the process is simple and accessible strengthens our democracy by bringing in more people.

Find out more >
Logo for SmartRegs initiative

Smart Regs (Renters with Benefits)


In Boulder, we passed the first energy efficiency standards for rental units in the country. A victory for tenants and a victory for our climate!

Victories feat. New Era
Group poses on steps with photo petitions in support of climate action

Climate Action Plan


The clock is ticking and the climate crisis is here. States have to lead the charge in reducing our emissions, so we were proud to join a coalition of our partners and mobilize young people to support this climate action plan for Colorado. We mobilized hundreds of young people to call their legislators to support this policy, and we brought dozens of young leaders to the Capitol to testify in support of this legislation and call out inaction. With leadership from partners like Conservation Colorado, the coalition successfully passed this bill to set renewable energy targets and make sure we lead on climate, even as the federal government stalls.

Find out more >
Crowd poses behind Governor Polis' desk as he signs AVR into law

Automatic Voter Registration


We worked with partners to pass one of the best Automatic Voter Registration bills in the country—streamlining our voter registration systems to advance efficiency, security and access all at once. Approximately 1 zillion young people in this state will benefit from this incredible law over the next several decades. Shout out to our friends at the Oregon Bus Project for passing the first automatic voter registration law in the country years ago—proving once again that when we let young people lead, they completely change the game.

Find out more >
Scattered images and popsicle stick crafts on a table. The middle craft says Practice Safe Sex

Comprehensive Sex Ed


Young people deserve accurate, complete information about sexual health that covers more than just straight cisgender experiences. Everyone benefits from knowing what a healthy relationship looks like—no matter your identity. As part of the Colorado Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Coalition, we passed a comprehensive sex education requirement that includes consent and LGBTQ+ relationships. We turned out young people to testify in support, sharing their direct experiences with sex ed and why this law would benefit other young people.

Find out more >
Oil pumpjack in foreground with sky and clouds in background

Defeating Amendment 74: Corporate Control of our Communities


We were up against big corporations who spent $13 million to try to push through one of the most sweeping ballot measures in Colorado history. This frivolous measure, Amendment 74, would’ve opened up our government to lawsuits for routine decisions and end up costing taxpayers billions. We came together with progressive organizations across the state, called and talked to thousands of young people to vote no, and helped stop it from passing.

Find out more >
Group poses in front of a table with balloons that say VOTE above it

Amendment 70: Raising Colorado’s Minimum Wage


Employers should not be able to pay their employees less than a living wage—especially when CEOs rake in millions. We were on the steering committee of a coalition led by 9to5 Colorado, Colorado People’s Alliance, and Together Colorado, with major work put in by SEIU Local 105 and AFL-CIO as well, that passed an amendment to gradually increase the minimum wage until it reaches $12 in 2020.

Find out more >
New Era Advocacy Manager tells a supporter about an upcoming event

Defeating Amendment 67: Personhood


This dangerous ballot measure would've defined life as starting at conception, essentially banning all abortions and making it a class 1 felony to get or perform and abortion. Which is dystopian, to say the least. Planned Parenthood, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado led the charge to prevent it from passing and we turned out young people to help vote down the measure.

Find out more >