MASSPIRG 100% Renewables campaign coordinator and UMass Amherst student Kaitlyn Mitchell speaks to television cameras at the Intergenerational Climate Action day in Boston in January 2020. Photo: Staff

Help Students Build A Brighter Future

Students are often at the forefront of movements to build a better future for our country. But students only make real progress when they are organized, have the skills to be effective and have a strategic plan to get things done. That’s where we come in: For almost 50 years, the Student PIRGs have been working to amplify the power of student activism. We help students make real change, right now, to help all Americans to live meaningful lives and to have a future that's greener and healthier.

Right now, PIRG students are tackling climate change by convincing colleges to join the University of California, Cornell, Vanderbilt and Boston University in committing to meet their energy needs with 100 percent renewable sources. This campaign is part of our vision to power our lives solely with clean, renewable energy.

We know that problems for our communities and our planet don’t come one at a time. As the nation has struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve launched a pledge-to-stay-home campaign that has had more than 1,500 students take action, gotten more than 75 student leaders to sign on to our call for increased testing, and advocated for other policies that will keep people healthy and safe during the pandemic. And we’ve made sure that our crucial organizing work can happen digitally, so that we can continue engaging our future leaders in making real change.

PIRG students are also taking on America’s plastics problem and moving us closer to zero waste by working to ban single-use foam take-out containers, plastic grocery bags and other plastic junk we can all live without. In 2019, CONNPIRG Students helped secure the passage of a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags in Connecticut. Then, our organizers helped students at the University of California, Berkeley, to win a commitment from the university to eliminate all non-essential single-use plastic. We’re looking to do the same thing on 50 more campuses this year.

Young people represent the largest and most diverse group of potential voters in the country, with our own values and our own ideas. But the issues that affect us are not being addressed because we don’t vote in high enough numbers. That’s why the Student PIRGs have been working to help students register to vote since 1984.

In 2020, the Student PIRGs ran one of our biggest New Voters Project efforts yet!

  • Over the summer and fall, the New Voters Project recruited and trained over 2,000 interns and 3,000 volunteers who led our nonpartisan voter registration and turnout campaign.
  • Despite the pandemic, we were able to expand our team of professional organizers to train even more students. This team of over 100 staff worked with students on 200 college campuses, 73 of which are minority-serving institutions or made up of majority-minority enrollment.
  • In all, our voter education program made 366,000 peer-to-peer GOTV contacts, and ultimately reached at least 2 million students.
  • We’re successfully building civic engagement infrastructure that can keep turning out students for years to come and get them involved in social change organizing.

Preliminary results from the 2020 election are showing historic voter turnout nearing 150 million votes cast, including record levels of participation by young voters. New data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) estimates that based on votes counted as of November 6, suggest that 49 percent to 51 percent of voting-eligible young people, ages 18 to 29, cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential election. This represents a historic increase between 5 to 10 percentage points from 2016.

If we’re going to succeed, we’ll have to work with everyone — from staunch conservatives to radical progressives — who is ready to look beyond political labels and wants to tackle our shared problems. For almost 50 years, the Student PIRGs have gotten results by recruiting, training and working alongside student activists on campaigns that make a difference.

What makes all of this work possible? It comes down to the dedicated and talented people we recruit for our campaigns. We start by finding and engaging the students who really care about the issues we’re working on. We work together to decide what strategies and tactics will be most effective for each campus. Next, we figure out which students will be good leaders, and teach them how to organize and run a campaign. In the age of COVID-19, that means making sure they have the digital organizing skills they need, so they can plan and run virtual events such as rallies and press conferences.

If you take a job as a campus organizer, you won’t just be a leader — you’ll be a trainer, an inspirer, a full-on changemaker and a behind-the-scenes support system for student activists, giving them the resources they need, and empowering them to unlock their full power to build a better future.

We all want to live meaningful lives in a world that's greener and healthier. To make that vision a reality, we’re hiring people to work with their campus communities in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Maryland and 11 other states to help students get organized, mobilized and energized.

Things to know when you apply

The Student PIRGs work closely with The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change. Click here for things you should know about our network when you apply.

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