The Century Foundation, a 100-year-old research and policy organization, today announced it is launching a first-of-its-kind, independent think tank built for a new brand of policy leaders: Next100. Building off the energy and diversity of the next generation, Next100 will provide a much-needed platform to emerging leaders to translate their vision for a more progressive America into policy change today.
The organization will provide six inaugural Next100 experts with full-time, salaried positions with benefits for two years (June 2019-May 2021) in New York City. Each expert will focus on solving a specific policy problem they identify—in areas such as immigration, racial justice, education, voting rights, or another issue critical to the next generation. They will help build a new kind of think tank from scratch, conducting original research, developing new policy ideas, and honing strategies to increase their impact.
Next100 is led by executive director Emma Vadehra, former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education for Secretaries of Education John B. King and Arne Duncan. Applications launched today, and will remain open through April 8, 2019. Individuals interested in learning more, including qualities that Next100 is looking for in candidates, and applying should visit: www.thenext100.org.
“Next100 has a simple goal: To take the incredible hunger for change that we see today in the streets, online, and at the ballot box, and turn it into tangible policy progress that results in concrete change for real people,” said Next100 executive director Emma Vadehra. “To do that, we need all voices at the table—especially those that have been shut out of policymaking for far too long. That’s what Next100 aims to do: put the next generation of leaders in the driver’s seat of change today.”
Next100 was developed as an independent project of The Century Foundation (TCF), a leading progressive think tank that turns 100 years old next month. The project builds on TCF’s long history of supporting bright emerging thinkers and their ideas for change. The Next100 team will have access to TCF’s network of experts, and receive mentorship, professional development and training.
“The next generation lives and breathes the issues driving the progressive movement forward, and because of this, they’re in a unique position to shape the future,” said Mark Zuckerman, TCF president and former deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Obama administration. “That’s why we’ve developed Next100, an innovative pop-up think tank where aspiring leaders can advance policy solutions that will impact not only this generation, but all generations that follow.”
The launch of Next100 comes at a time of heightened political action from young people and people of color, who represent critical and growing voting blocs in the United States. In 2018, youth voter turnout increased to 31 percent, the highest rate in two decades. And 76 percent of young Americans polled said they are equally or more motivated to get involved in politics and public service since the 2016 election.
And yet, young people and people of color are too often left out of the policymaking process. Despite representing 30 percent of the voting population, millennials only represent 5 percent of Congress. The historic diversity of the next generation is also vastly underrepresented in the halls of political power. While millennials—who are on track to be the nation’s largest generation, at 73 million—are 44 percent people of color, the U.S. Senate is only 9 percent people of color and only 12 percent of federal legislators are immigrants or first generation.
Statements of Support for Next100
“I got into politics because of policy — the power of policy to make real, meaningful change,” said Michael Tubbs, 28, mayor of Stockton, California. “But too often, we just debate the same old ideas. We need more bold, progressive ideas, focused on the priorities of young people in particular. Next100 will help fill this gap, uplifting the best, brightest and boldest progressive thinkers of our time, inspiring all of us to aim higher and push harder for lasting change.”
“Today, we are seeing a generation of young people stepping up to lead on the issues that will define the world they live in — from gun violence to the environment to education. They know that too many adults have failed them, and they’re raising their voices because they refuse to wait quietly,” said Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education and current managing director at Emerson Collective. “We need organizations like Next100 that are committed to bringing them to the table and driving action on the issues that matter most to them.”
“America is changing: year after year, we’re become a more diverse, more accepting, and more progressive nation. Unfortunately, our policies and politicians in D.C. aren’t keeping up,” said Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President at New America and a former senior official in the Obama administration. “We need a new wave of policy leaders that reflect and represent our changing country. Next100 seeks to answer that call.”
“Those who hold political power have been operating on the assumption that young people don’t vote, don’t know what’s best for themselves, and don’t matter in policymaking. They couldn’t be more wrong,” said Melissa Harris-Perry, Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University and TCF trustee. “I predict there will be candidates running for office in the next cycle on policy ideas created by Next100 leaders.”
“We have a new wave of leaders driving many aspects of progressive politics: they’re campaigners, communicators, organizers and more,” said Ravi Gupta, co-founder of The Arena, a nonprofit group that works to build a progressive talent pipeline. “But when it comes to the development of policy, too many voices are still shut out of the process. That’s why Next100 is so exciting—and so needed. We can’t build a truly diverse, lasting progressive movement without training, supporting, and elevating the next generation of policy leaders.”
“As more young people step up as civic leaders, we need organizations like Next100 that are focused on the policy issues that matter to us,” said Max Lubin, CEO of Rise Inc., a grassroots student led campaign for free college in California. “I’m excited for the Next100 team to launch bold, progressive policy proposals that lead to real change and inspire other young people across the country.”
“For years, research has shown that young people, in particular young people of color, are actively engaged on the issues that matter most to them,” said Cathy Cohen, political science professor at the University of Chicago and founder of the GenForward Survey and Black Youth Project. “Next100 represents an opportunity to build on the insights and activism of young people from across the country, ensuring that the next generation of leaders is instrumental in developing solutions that work for them and their communities.”