The Future We Need, a new national youth-led narrative expansion effort, kicked off in November 2020. Maya Muldrew, one of its young founders, shares what it is, why it matters, and how you can get involved.
“Young people can change the world.”
At some point in everyone’s youth, a phrase like this has been uttered, usually to encourage us. It can feel like a cliche. Yet today, slogans about youth power feel don’t feel like empty phrases, because so many of us are fighting for change and to bring to light issues that elder generations have failed to effectively and consistently act on.
Now more than ever, it is time for young people to create our own narratives, tell our own stories, and shape our own futures.
The Future We Need (#TheFutureWeNeed) is a social media-first campaign made by and for young people who are demanding, organizing, and leading transformative change across the country. The Future We Need empowers young leaders working across a multitude of issue areas including (but definitely not limited to) racial justice, climate justice, youth employment and opportunities, justice reform, housing equity, and LGBTQIA+ equality.
Now, more than ever, it is time for young people to create our own narratives, tell our own stories, and shape our own future.
Our storytelling centers on shareable first-person videos and graphics that amplify young leaders and activists. We aim to work with diverse young videographers, producers, editors and writers to assist with production and professional distribution. Some will be short documentary-style profiles, others will be insights or lessons and peer-to-peer support to connect us across issues, and boost our impact.
In the words of the Future We Need project director Dillon Bernard, age 20, “What this moment calls for is a story platform: a place where young people can tell and hear their own stories, told on their own terms, to share and to shape our realities and futures.”
Our campaign is not only youth-focused, but also youth-designed and youth-led from beginning to end, including the campaign strategy, content creation process, and distribution approach. This is both intentional and strategic. Too often, we are overshadowed, underheard, and underestimated when it comes to conversations regarding our future and what we believe is possible and necessary in our communities and our world.
As Marlén Mendoza, the Future We Need’s partnerships and outreach coordinator, says, “Proximity to the people most impacted by this work is crucial in understanding what the problem is and what that experience looks like. The people closest to the problem should be closer to the power driving and informing the work.”
We believe that young people must be centered in discussions about the issues and events that negatively impact our quality of life—and sometimes even end lives.
As Dillon Bernard explains, “The Future We Need is going beyond the idea of ‘youth voice’— this is about youth power. It’s not enough to have young people in the room advising, it’s time to empower and center us.”
The Future We Need’s goal is to document and elevate the young leaders who are organizing and creating methods of activism in these unprecedented times. We not only want to build a platform that builds social capital and expands awareness about issues most pertinent to youth and young adults today, we also want to be the go-to platform for folks to share and explore all the ways they can take action across these issues.
To maximize our impact, The Future We Need is supported by a growing list of youth-led and youth-serving, adult-led and organizations including The Forum for Youth Investment and its SparkAction network, Casey Family Programs, Content by Us, and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. Promoting thought leadership, encouraging storytelling, and investing in opportunities for young people are key values of our partners and key incentives for our collaboration.
The main thing that we want other young people to take away from this campaign is that we are the reason it exists.
The main thing that we want other young people to take away from this campaign is that we are the reason it exists. The content produced by this campaign is meant to be shared and re-purposed, so that our generations are consistently informed, engaged, and motivated to make an impact.
For years, young people have been consistently engaging on the front line of culture and politics, forming historical movements, and organizing mass protests, often with limited or no resources. The Future We Need aims to capture diverse stories, connect activists to each other and to resources, and amplify the individuals and collectives who are leading change and advocating for justice across the nation.
We are claiming our future and we’re showing the power of our generation. The future that we want, is the future we deserve, and the future we need.
How to Get Involved
We have opportunities for all young people and people of all ages. Nominate yourself or others to be profiled. Share your experiences and insights. Become a youth or young adult leader in The Future We Need. Or join our adult allies advisory Counsel.
- FutureWeNeed.org (beta site)
- Follow and post your stories, calls to action and insights using #FutureWeNeed on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other channels.
Maya Muldrew is the Community Manager for The Future We Need and Content by Us. She focuses on developing new campaigns and social strategies and providing underrepresented youth an outlet to share their content and voices.
Maya began her editorial and digital media journey in high school, interning for a local-turned-global nonprofit that was dedicated to teaching media literacy to young women from under-served communities. She recently earned her B.S. in marketing from San Francisco State University, with strengths in social media marketing, campaign building, and content creation.
Passionate about digital media, community organizing, and social justice advocacy, Maya is consistently looking for creative ways to connect with underrepresented individuals, groups, and businesses to assist with their marketing efforts and strategies. Spreading awareness, tracking trends, and amplifying voices has always been a passion of hers, in her academic and professional life. She has published editorial content with the intent of sparking conversations, igniting activism, and bringing light to disparities that are influenced by race, gender, and sexual orientation. Maya’s personal mission is to empower, uplift, and inspire BlPOC youth through captivating visuals and digital storytelling. Contact: maya[@]contentbyus.org.
SparkAction, and its organizational home The Forum for Youth Investment, are partners in The Future We Need national effort and network.