Politics are being reinvented for young voters thanks to New Era Colorado, a non-profit, multi-issue organization.
Founded in 2006 by a small team of college graduates, the organization has grown to serving active citizens and young leaders in Colorado through education. New Era Colorado strives to provide the resources and tools for young people to become educated voters.
A team of dedicated volunteers helps run and maintain the organization. The entire team is made up of four separate entities including the staff, volunteers, interns, the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board.
Steve Fenberg is the executive director of New Era Colorado. Fenberg graduated from CU with a degree in environmental studies and was a part of the small group responsible for the creation of New Era Colorado.
Fenberg said that his idea to form an organization like this came from his active participation in the student government while he was an undergraduate.
“I wanted to take what I had learned to a different level by allowing young people to be more involved in politics,” Fenberg said.
Fenberg works full-time with the organization and runs the entire show from a small office space in downtown Boulder. Working with him is a small team of committed staff members, but he is still actively involved with all that goes on.
“I do a little bit of everything,” he said. “From running programs to internships to fund-raising and voter registrations.”
Despite having the opportunity to be in charge and head various projects, Fenberg said that his favorite part about the job is when he gets to be on the scene.
“One of my favorite parts about the job is when I actually have the time away from my desk to help out with the actual program,” Fenberg said. “It’s one of the moments when you realize what you’re actually working for.”
He said New Era Colorado has registered a total of 30,000 voters since last year. They aim to register 20,000 more next year.
Besides voter registrations, Fenberg said New Era Colorado takes effort in giving year-round leadership programs. Participants who take part attend classes for part of the program and they also have the chance at running real campaigns.
Julia Harrington, a 21-year-old senior and political science major is currently a student-fellow at New Era Colorado.
Harrington first joined the organization in September 2008 as a volunteer and said she finds her position in the organization rewarding.
“One of the best things about being a part of New Era Colorado is being able to see the hope in what young people can do,” Harrington said. “Our voices are often ignored and I am thankful that we have this organization to make sure that our voice is heard.”
One of the larger symbols of New Era Colorado is their bus that makes the occasional appearance during their campaigns and tabling sessions.
Fenberg said the bus serves more than just a form of transport for people.
“It helps bring out the fun within the group,” Fenberg said. “But also, it always helps raise the profile for New Era Colorado.”
Catie McNellis, a 21-year-old junior and human resource major had never heard about the organization but said she was enthusiastic when she was told about it.
“I love the idea of the organization,” McNellis said. “I personally want to register to vote, and I won’t vote unless I feel like I am educated enough on the subject.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Adelina Shee at Adelina.firstname.lastname@example.org.