Global Shapers Hopes to Rock the Vote with #ElectATL

Millennials have been shaking up all corners of the workforce since trading out college T’s for more formal business attire. With this generational shift comes an uprising of resources like Global Shapers, an international initiative led by the World Economic Forum to connect young professionals, spark global conversations and create meaningful change.“Global Shapers is the World Economic Forum’s way of inviting young people to the table for conversations, as well as building a platform to help connect with each other,” explained Grace Williams, a member of Atlanta’s Global Shapers hub.

One such conversation Atlanta’s Global Shapers hub has taken on is election engagement in Atlanta. If there were ever a generation that breaks records on voter turnout, it’s Millennials. So we sat down with Grace to hear the role of Global Shapers, their latest initiative #ElectATL, and how you can stay informed and influence the city’s upcoming election.

From Fry ATL to #ElectATL

“One of the most successful events the Atlanta hub of Global Shapers has done in the past was our Fry ATL event. It was like an MTV-style roast of our city but a little gentler. It was a way to joke about Atlanta and bring a bunch of different people together while providing a platform for local nonprofits. It was a great community building opportunity both for the hub and for our members’ network of people.

Our Atlanta-based hub is less than five years old and this new project is our first attempt to try something that is larger in scale and is not event-based. It’s not large in the sense of having a lot of people in one room, rather it’s an admirable and lofty goal to impact Millennial turnout in the Atlanta election.

The idea behind #ElectATL, is to create a platform that will help people in metro Atlanta gain a better understanding not only of who the candidates are in the upcoming Mayoral and City Council elections but also why they are important. We want to dive into what the Mayor and Council members do while also highlighting voter access topics like how and where to vote. People have a lot of technical questions about the voting process; the answers to these questions are already available online but they are not easy to find or clear-cut.

The Lofty (Yet Admirable) Lead Up to Atlanta’s Voter Turnout

We are not trying to build a platform that will only be relevant to young adults but because we are doing it all online, powering it through social media and catering it to what we know our peer groups are interested in. We anticipate that a lot of interest generated around this will be from Millennials. We are trying to focus on issues that are relevant to people our age but it is no way exclusive especially since so many of these issues like infrastructure affect everybody in Atlanta. If there is a way to also go beyond just emphasizing info on the candidates, but also highlighting existing organizations, events and resources to check out for people looking to dig deeper into issues, I think that would be valuable as well and is an important differentiator.

The first step in launching this program is the quick survey we created. We created a survey that reads like it was put together by young, tech-savvy people. We wanted it to be fun and meet people where they are. The survey will inform the content we include on our website and what we prioritize. We also want to be smart about sharing the information gathered through the survey; we will certainly push it out through social media but we are also considering making the data available to organizations that might benefit from it. The finished product will be the website we are building.

We are hoping that the website will be useful but useful in a way that will make people excited to be a part of the civic process. Voting in local elections, especially when you don’t know people, can feel like a chore. It’s so easy to make arbitrary choices like voting for someone you heard on the radio or not caring about down-ballot elections. During our conversations at Global Shapers about changing that attitude that a lot of young people have, we kept coming back to looking for a reliable, centralized resource for information about candidates – but there isn’t one. News outlets come close but they are article-based and they only go so deep on candidate coverage.

The World Economic Forum requires that we remain apolitical. But I don’t think that means non-political. We are really classifying this as a “get out the vote” initiative. We want to increase awareness and turnout. Making information accessible is super important but we also want to make this information compelling. We want to grab people’s attention when they are scrolling through their social media feed by framing these issues in a way that reminds people that they are being impacted every day.

One of the things I have noticed as an Atlanta native is that I have a baseline familiarity with some things that people who are new to the city don’t have. One of the things that makes Atlanta such a dynamic city is that so many people are moving here – especially young people. We need to leverage the resources we have to help people catch up. Atlanta can be a little bit of an insular city where natives like me wear a badge of honor but with #ElectATL we want to make sure everyone has access to the same information. There are things down to the nicknames for roads that people who move here just don’t know. We very much want to make sure that information is accessible and compelling to people who are new to the city. It is vital that everybody gets involved; we are all here together.”

Help Global Shapers help you by taking their fun and interactive survey here (think of it as BuzzFeed and SurveyMonkey’s love child). Follow along on their journey by following them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  

Images are property of Global Shapers.