The Republican National Committee just trained its 25,000th Republican Leadership Initiative Fellow this week, highlighting a growing trend that the Republican party continues to see: Conservative millennials are excited and eager to show their support for the Republican agenda, conservative policies, and candidates through grassroots efforts.
According to the RNC, millennials make up 50 percent of participants in the Republican Leadership Initiative, the RNC’s flagship training program.
As RLI fellows, students are taught how to conduct voter registration, recruit volunteers, and collect and use data, among other grassroots skills. Graduates of the program become part of the GOP’s permanent, on-the-ground infrastructure.
The 25,000 benchmark is nearly double the RNC’s initial goal for the midterm cycle, demonstrating the sheer size and scope of the GOP’s ground game heading towards November. This is five times the number of RLI fellows recruited during the entire 2016 presidential cycle.
“Engagement is off the charts … we are outpacing ourselves even during a so-called ‘off year’,” RNC Deputy National Press Secretary Blair Ellis told the Washington Examiner.
Part of this high millennial involvement comes from the RNC’s partnerships with more than 130 colleges and universities across 25 states by offering class credit to college students who complete the RNC’s six-week RLI Training Program. Students are eligible for 3-6 hours of college credit and are monitored by both GOP state parties and professors or administrators who ensure students are hitting weekly requirements.
The program is offered at large state schools like Ohio State University and Florida State University as well as smaller, private schools like Liberty University and Xavier University. In just the last three months, the number of colleges and universities wishing to participate in the class credit partnership has nearly doubled.
“These stats should come as no surprise — young Americans are excited about what President Trump and the Republican Congress have accomplished in just two short years. This excitement, paired with the RNC’s unprecedented level of youth engagement on school campuses, in classrooms, and in communities across the nation, has empowered young conservatives to get involved and make their voices heard,” said Mitch Freckleton, RNC Director of Youth Engagement.
“Millennials hitting the polls is of such importance to us now and in future races of every kind in our country. Just talking to one millennial a day about how much their vote truly matters and can change how this country turns out for elections,” RLI fellow Gabby Lawrence, a student at the University of Reno, Nevada, told the Washington Examiner.
Much of this momentum comes from the Campus Leader program, which was launched just months ago in spring 2018. The Campus Leader program is meant to “identify team leaders on college campuses who can help to organize and energize college students and millennials ahead of 2018,” according to information provided to Red Alert Politics last December from the RNC.
Students say the program has provided them with great insight into the power of informing voters.
“My experience as an RLI fellow has also impacted how I view voter contact. As part of the program, I have contacted a wide range of voters, and I’ve learned that door knocking and phone banking really are massively important in races as tight as the U.S. Senate race in Nevada,” said Lawrence. “The benefit alone of knowing you changed how someone views voting is extremely rewarding,” she continued.
The RNC is also working with young organizations like the Young Republican National Federation.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in Young Republicans who’ve become RLI Fellows and become better, more effective activists in return,” said Matthew Oberly, Young Republican National Federation spokesman.
While Republicans have yet to become the dominant party of youth, the Republican Party is seeing an influx of younger volunteers and is building a bench comprised of the next generation of Republican grassroots field operatives.
“Campus Teams and conservative students have made well over half a million voter contacts in just one month!” said Freckleton. “This enthusiasm among young leaders, students, and activists will propel us to defy history this November.”