Written By: Josh Speer
Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) was founded in 2008 as an extension of Students for Ron Paul. It was founded by Paul’s National Youth Coordinator, Jeff Frazee, after Dr. Paul withdrew from the presidential campaign. Since its inception, the organization hit the 800 chapter mark across all fifty states. It is the largest pro-liberty student organization operating in the U.S.
You may have seen our recruiting table in the hallway, with the Gadsden flag and a good amount of literature such as pocket constitutions to hand out to people. We’ve done two recruiting events thus far. The first one, being the more significant, I highlighted in a post on the YAL blog. We’re only getting started.
When I was approached by a representative of the organization to found a chapter at Front Range Community College, I quickly jumped on the opportunity. It was about halfway through the semester and I had just recently withdrawn from my previous executive board position. Being only vaguely familiar with YAL via social media, I investigated further. When I learned that their values are very much in line with my own, I decided to hop on board.
So, what does YAL stand for?
We exist to identify, educate, train, and mobilize youth activists committed to “winning on principle”. Putting strong emphasis on the natural rights of life, liberty, and property laid out by our founding fathers. We’re a political, but nonpartisan organization. We do not endorse any specific political parties nor candidates. Our members are primarily comprised of people on the spectrum from classical liberals to libertarians to traditional conservatives. However, people from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome to join us in discussion and debate.
In April of 2009, YAL held its first major campus event at Wake Forest University. With about 1,300 students showing up to hear Dr. Paul speak about a wide variety of issues. Impressive? Maybe. However, it was only the beginning. YAL grew from having 150 chapters at the end of 2009, to having 600 chapters in 2015, and now just surpassing 800 at the end of 2016. Our social media accounts have also reached a rather large network of people. The Facebook page has more than 580,000 “likes”, the Twitter account has more than 35,000 followers, and the YouTube channel has more than 2,400 subscribers.
We have a pretty extensive list of organizations that we partner with available on our website. They all share a common theme of emphasis on individual, academic, and/or economic liberty. They each have something to offer YAL chapters across the nation to help us prepare activities on campus and some offering opportunities such as internships. Allow me to elaborate on a few of them.
One of our most prominent partners is public policy research institution CATO Institute. As an organization, they’re dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and a peaceful society. Founded in 1977, they conduct independent and nonpartisan research on everything from education and child policy to international economics. Their name derives from Cato’s Letters, a series of essays published in England during the 18th century. Student events have covered topics ranging from the war on drugs to health care, and their intern program offers plenty of opportunities for undergraduate, recent graduates, graduate students, law students, and early-career professionals.
Like YAL, Students for Liberty (SFL) was founded around the same time in 2008, and is the largest libertarian student organization currently operating on the globe. The original SFL conference was intended for about thirty students, but 100 ended up attending despite a blizzard shutting down most of the region. Fast forward to the 2016 conference, and there were more than 1,500 attendees from all six inhabited continents. SFL Academy helps book speakers for various student organizations (such as YAL), as well as providing online learning resources and literature. They even have digital resources available to people interested in the left-libertarian intersection.
The Leadership Institute was founded in 1979 by Morton C. Blackwell. They provide training in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications for conservative students. They point out that there exist many different liberal organizations to increase the involvement of young activists, but not too many that focus on the other side of the political spectrum, so they’re one of the few existing organizations that focus specifically on conservative youth, teaching them to be successful in politics, government, and media. Since its inception, they have trained about 180,000 activists, leaders, and students and have grown to encompass about 1,700 campus groups and newspapers. One of them being the well-known Campus Reform. They offer services such as online webinars about marketing or policy, an educational video library that touches on topics that relate to the job market or what leadership means, and they send out representatives such as the guy you may have seen me recruiting with to help with campus activism events.
This is all a testament that our movement, just like our organization, is growing. Each of our partners offer very valuable tools that will help organizations such as YAL succeed in our mission. The message of liberty and limiting government is gaining significant grounds. To learn more about our chapter specifically, check out FRCC’s profile on the organization’s website, or any of the social media outlets I linked to in previous paragraphs. Feel free to contact the FRCC chapter president (myself), the Colorado State chair (Richard Wickham), or the central regional director (Moorea O’Donnell) for more information about how you can become involved!