Connecting and Convening in New Places: OYUnited attends Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) Fall Convening

By Shaquana Boykin, OYUnited-SparkAction Digital Engagement Fellow


In November, OYUnited joined the Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) Fall Convening in Arizona and New Mexico.

The OYF convening had several goals, including creating an environment for Place Based Learning for participants. This blog will discuss the Place Based Learning from The Hopi Tribe & Pueblo of Jemez Tribe during site visits designed to connect with and learn from several Native, Indigenous, and Tribal communities within the OYF network.

Loading luggage on bus to visit Hopi Tribe


The Hopi Tribe Visit was an experience in itself! It was powerful to hear from youth about the issues and struggles they go through, discuss bridging the generational gap and finding opportunities and pathways for success. We were fortunate to meet young people who were part of the Youth Conservation Programs who told us what they learned and why they enjoyed this program. The Youth Conservation Program employs youth and provides them with hands-on skills, including fencing, filling sandbags, and cutting wood to deliver to the tribes for heating their homes. The Hopi tribe also feed us traditional dishes of mutton (sheep) with noodles and corn, corn and bean soup, and bread in two types: the bread roll I am accustomed to and Piki Bread (picture below).

Youth Conservation Program

Piki Bread








Corn & bean soup, pika bread, bread roll and cookie

Corn & mutten soup











OYF convening would not be complete without nature walks, talks, biking and getting physical. Enjoy Photos from Shaquana Boykin, Jamiel Alexander of Aspen Community Solutions & OYU member & Andrea Wagner of Fresh Tracks




Feast Day

Feast Day was the last day of our Aspen Convening Site Visit. We arrived at the Jemez Pueblo Tribe after a bus drive from Flagstaff, Arizona to New Mexico. The Pueblo of Jemez is a federally recognized tribe located in north-central New Mexico, approximately 50 miles northwest of Albuquerque. We are one of the remaining 19 pueblos of New Mexico, encompassing over 89,000 acres of land and home to over 3,400 tribal members.


Weeks before this visit, Juan Martinez, Senior Program Manager for Fresh Tracks with The Aspen Forum For Community Solutions, explained that we will practice reciprocity – an ancestral and indigenous value. Juan asked us to consider bringing/creating 3-4 items to give to our community host for feast day. He explained that it did not need to be bought, it can be as simple as a few written words, song, art, or an item that represents you and/or your community. (He also told us we will not be treated any differently if we cannot bring something. Before we got off the bus we were given a paper with the information to contact and walk to the Jemez Family Home to eat. We were also told the rules again:no audio, no recording, no pictures without asking the family first. 


I’m a 90s baby so you know I was nervous! We use our phones for everything, even to check time, so I was worried I might pull my phone out and break the rule! But I quickly learned that if you do break the rules the Jemez Pueblo Tribe can take your phone and not give back. Safe to say I did not touch my phone.  


As we walked from the bus to the entrance of the tribe we were welcomed with a dance. This was a part of the celebration of The Feast Day, which included elders and youth that were able to dance. My group and I watched the dance for a few minutes and then walked to the market and ended at the family home to eat. It was a feast indeed, including rice, chicken, corn, yams, soup, and desserts.All I can say is it was delicious! After the feast, l had to walk back to give The Shendo Family my gift – a circle I crocheted. To my surprise, Jacquelyn, the daughter, asked, “Can I take a picture & your number to learn crochet? I weave, but this is beautiful”.  Who knew crochet circles would bring us together! Jacquelyn recently texted me and we are going to video chat and I will teach her how to crochet. 


Overall the Convening was a powerful experience, and I’m excited to have made a new friend to share crocheting with!

A passionate advocate and youth organizer, Shaquana Boykin works closely with the SparkAction team to enhance Opportunity Youth United’s digital presence by producing content, coordinating social media, and launching creative events and activations.

If Not Us, Then Who? OYUnited joined the ND4Y Week of Action in DC

By Shaquana Boykin, OYUnited-SparkAction Digital Engagement Fellow


A New Deal for Youth (ND4Y) is a youth-led, youth-centered effort advocating for the creation of new systems, policies, investments, and structures that reimagine life for young people in America. New Deal for Youth’s Changemakers developed a policy agenda that includes several issue areas: Economic Justice and Opportunity Justice, Healing and Wellbeing, Justice and Safe Communities, Environmental Justice, Immigration Justice, and Democracy and Civil Engagement.


As a Change Partner of ND4Y, OYUnited joined the New Deal for Youth Week of Action from October 6th – 9th in Washington DC. This Week of Action brought together organizational partners like OYUnited and the ND4Y Changemakers, a cohort of young leaders between the ages of 15 and 32 from across the country. These young leaders are advocates and organizers who work across a range of issues facing their communities. 


Young leaders from across the country represented OYUnited at this Week of Action, including Kimberly Pham, our Engagement Coordinator, Makayla McDonald, one of our current Fellows, and myself (Shaquana Boykin) as our Digital Engagement Fellow.


Thursday, October 6, 2022 – Legislative Advocacy

Photo Credit :Gerod Blue

Photo Credit: Shanice Tuner


During the Week of Action we met with policymakers to raise awareness of ND4Y’s policy agenda, grow champions, and demonstrate the power of young people. I was part of a group that included two New Deal for Youth Changemakers, Cody and Alexis, along with Gerod Blue, Senior Policy Manager at the Forum for Youth Investment. We met with a staffer for California Representative Sara Jacobs, Arion Laws, who was open to listening to our concerns and responded positively to our request for Representative Jacobs to be our champion for New Deal for Youth Demands. The meeting went well, and it was an exciting opportunity to uplift our priorities and ensure Members of Congress are committed to issues impacting Opportunity Youth.


Friday, October 7, 2022 – Summit for Administrative Advocacy

Photo Credit: Shaquana Boykin

Photo Credit: Shaquana Boykin


The next day, the New Deal for Youth held a Summit for Administrative Advocacy at Southwest Library in Washington, DC. The Summit provided space for sharing our priorities with members of the Biden-Harris Administration and learning how the Biden-Harris Administration can positively impact the future of young people. Watch the full Summit here.   


Saturday, October 8, 2022 – Public Awareness / Mural Painting & Block Party


Photo Credit :Jameil Alexander

Photo Credit :Shanice Turner









We also engaged in activities together to build community among the Changemakers and Change Partners, including painting a mural to give back locally. The mural painting was led by OYUnited co-founder and former member of OYUnited’s National Council of Young Leaders, Francisco Garcia


Overall, the ND4Y Week of Action was an impactful way to build community while raising awareness about our policy platform. OYUnited is proud to be a Change Partner of the ND4Y movement, and we’re excited to continue working as part of this coalition to transform current systems to better support young people and Opportunity Youth.


A passionate advocate and youth organizer, Shaquana Boykin works closely with the SparkAction team to enhance Opportunity Youth United’s digital presence by producing content, coordinating social media, and launching creative events and activations.

We Voted, What Now?

“We Voted, What Now?”

Your Voices Matters. OYUnited members mobilized, GOTV, and  [YOU]th Voted. During a pandemic and the largest estimate of “growing voters”, people turning 18, compared to this past General Election, according to CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, is close to 15 million new voters. So what impact did our OYUnited members have? Read more

Take a look at several OYUnited members  mobilizing in their communities before and after General Elections 2020

Atlanta, Georgia

We Voted

You[th] Voted, OYUnited Leaders Shanice Turner and Daniel Rosebud have been participating in non-partisan Get Out The Vote events in Atlanta.  Shanice and Daniel are Carolina Voter Mobilization Grantees, who applied for this grant through OYUnited and are individuals working on voter mobilization in their prospective Communities since October 2019, leading up to National Voter Registration Day 2020. Click here to see highlights of National Voter Registration Day 2020 in ATL. Efforts were highlighted in a TIME article published in November 2020, titled  Civic Engagement Doesn’t Have to Be Corny.’ How Georgia Pulled Off Unprecedented Youth Voter Turnout” and quoted OYUnited

“It came down to grassroots organizing by groups like the New Georgia Project, Campus Vote Project, Students for 2020, and Opportunity Youth United, which made innovative social media moves and hired younger volunteers to help young voters see themselves in politics.”



What Now

After Elections 2020

So what are our members doing in their prospective communities in a nonpartisan way? Shanice Turner and Daniel Rosebud have mastered the art of partnering within their prospective communities. Here is what is next, happening NOW!


NCYL member Shanice Turner has several nonpartisan GOTV events in ATL mobilizing in her community. From Tik Tok Challenges, Radio Podcast, Debate Watch Party, Debate debriefs, COVID 19 testing, and organizing food giveaways. Shanice strengthened in building partnerships with New Georgia Project and others are targeting young adults 18 to 35 years old. Check out this link of events going on in ATL hosted by Shanice helping to spread the word about the Georgia Senate Run-Off.


Community Leader Daniel Rosebud has put together events he calls “Activations” driven by young adults ages 18 to 35 years young. Earlier in December Daniel Rosebud on  Special Report with Areva Martin addressing viewers through a panel dialogue that is informing and inspiring viewers across the country GOTV.  A link from his segment is Here.

To keep the presence on social media, Daniel has captured a culture in an effort to GOTV in ATL using #VoiceYourVote – “Activations composed of an overarching message to mobilize in 2020 and 2021”. When asked what would these efforts involve? Daniel explains GOTV is an innovative way – Leveraging nonpartisan information, a series of community engagement activities geared toward first-time voters, and two (2) panel discussions. These discussions have plans of being a viral statement and call to action leading up to a string of local elections in the State of Georgia. Discussions are moderated by the founders of Politicking a mobile application dedicated to improving and galvanizing the millennial vote by providing information about micro and macro politics.  The link to the app is and follow the hashtag #VoiceYourVote and follow Instagram  @politicking. To follow events hosted by Community Leader Daniel in ATL follow this link.

Coming Soon:

  • Sacramento, California
  • Columbus, Ohio

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Author, Shaquana Boykin


In Atlanta, OYUnited Leaders Help Get Out the Vote

Held every year in the United States, National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday that celebrates our democracy and encourages voter registration. This year, it happened on Tuesday, September 22nd, and local leaders in Atlanta, Georgia, held several coordinated events to inform and engage their peers ahead of the 2020 elections. We’re excited to share some reflections from Shaquana Boykin, OYUnited’s Digital Engagement Fellow, who attended two events hosted by OYUnited leaders in Atlanta.

Two OYUnited leaders, Shanice Turner and Daniel Rosebud, hosted local events. Shanice and Daniel are both recipients of the Carolina Fund OYU Civic Engagement Grant, which is supporting five OYUnited leaders and Community Action Teams (CATs) to hold civic engagement activities leading up to the election.

Shanice’s event helped community members learn how to cast their ballot, featuring a demonstration from Secure the Vote, an inclusive, broad-based education initiative that shows people in all walks of life, in every corner of the state, what to expect when they begin voting in 2020. The event was held from 1 – 7pm with several sponsors, free food, gift cards, and personal protective equipment (PPE) giveaways. There were also tables helping register people to vote and reps from community resources ranging from Amber Alert to Street Groomers. (Check out clips of the event on Instagram.)

The event took place at Floyd Plaza in the Pittsburgh area of Atlanta. I traveled from New York to participate. I remember looking around and seeing a statue of a bicycle and feeling at home. Although I was far away from my native Brooklyn, the familiar figure of a bike comforted me.

Near the bike, I saw a painting hanging that perplexed me. I looked at Kim Pham, who is a member of the OYUnited Leadership team, and we both were struck by the artist’s layers of texture and colors. I have never really been creative or understood every art form, although as a Community Leader I am able to appreciate raw art and art in general.

Looking at this art work made me question everything I once saw as “safety”: my skin, my clothing, my cell phone, the location I live in and walk. I felt that pain in my heart, the kind that wakes you up, you holding your chest. I felt that, but this pain also had me in a place of reflection, and gave me a push to focus on this day of action to get out the vote (GOTV). Sometimes we need to reflect on our own power, pain and privilege.

“I felt that pain in my heart, the kind that wakes you up, you holding your chest … but this pain also had me in a place of reflection, and gave me a push to continue this day of action… Sometimes we need to reflect on our own power, pain and privilege.”

Floyd Plaza had such a rich feeling of history and community. As we were setting up for the event, people walked over and asked “What time does the event start? When we see tents and tables we know to come by.”

This was the gathering spot for all ages young and older. Our first volunteer walked over with her father to tell us that she wanted to help. She was 5 years old and ready to be engaged.

After several hours of entertaining, educating, listening, and getting people to register to vote, Kim and I headed to Daniel’s event.

Daniel’s STATE ADDRESS: YOUNG GEORGIANS was a call to action for all young adults to activate, mobilize, and leverage this 2020 election year to be heard on immediate and systemic barriers concerning their overall permanency, stability and equity as young adults.

It was an event with many layers of youth leadership: The event was a collaboration, coordinated by Georgia Reconnecting Youth Coalition, INC (GRYC) and The GReY Project. GRYC and The GReY Project were founded by Daniel Rosebud, an OYUnited Community Leader, and his co-founder Christopher Prather. They describe themselves as “two young black male adults with lived experience as disconnected youth, who reside in Atlanta, Georgia.”

GRYC is supported by Opportunity Youth United, New Georgia Project, Partnership for Southern Equity, Year Up Atlanta, and ONSET & CO, and, and had young adults representing each of these organizations at the event.

This event aimed to create space for young adults to share and learn what opportunities can be addressed through voting. As Daniel wrote in his press release, “The voting process is not always the easiest process to understand. We aim to articulate the connection of voting to structured opportunities for ourselves and families regardless of who’s in office.”

It was inspiring to see a community leader in his community showing up, advocating, and taking action!

“The voting process is not always the easiest process to understand. We aim to articulate the connection of voting to structured opportunities for ourselves and families regardless of who’s in office.”

The in-person aspects were done safely by practicing social distancing and wearing masks, and upon entering the building, participants received a pre-screening with a temperature check. There were also virtual options to watch remotely, as well.

At the event, Daniel gave an opening talk with several of his movement’s young leaders, followed by a panel discussion and entertainment from Bobbi Strom. During the panel, most questions were displayed on the screen with a QR code for the audience to answer as well. The panelists included Kimberly Pham from OYU/Aspen Community Solutions, and panelists from the GReY Project, Greenlight Fund, and the Georgia Project.

Here were a few of the questions asked of panelists:

  • What do you think are the two most urgent issues facing our under-resourced communities and why?
  • What makes 2020 a unique voting year?
  • Who can and should vote in the 2020 election?
  • Which offices are open for the 2020 election ( John Lewis Congressional Seat, Judges)?

The last question was interactive with the audience, asking “Will you, our audience vote, have you registered, will you pledge to actually go to the polls on election day ?” The audience was responsive. Some young adults expressed that they are here today at this event to see what they can do to GOTV.

Audience member Dr. N. Jean Hudley, the Founder and Executive Director of Boys2Men Home & Sanctuary for Youth, Inc, posed a question to us audience members, “What are you all doing to get involved in the political process?” Daniel Rosebud immediately responded, “We have a guest from NYC who has answered the call and won her primary election.” Daniel was referring to my leap to join the Democratic Party of Kings County New York, serving AD 57 as the State Committeewoman. My response to all congratulating me was a call to action, “No matter what role or position you have the power to resign the leadership and policy we all deserve, show up how you can!”

To sum it up, the panelists and audience questions and answers worked well, and it felt good to have a conversation and not be talked at. During the question and answer portion, one audience member posed a question to the panelist and audience and asked, “What are you all doing to get more young people civically engaged?

So, as you reflect on our events hosted by Young Adults on September 22, answer this question for yourself!

For more on the events:

Follow us on Instagram to see clips of the live streams @Oyunited.

The Young leaders who supported content and tech for recordings for Daniel’s event included:

  • Frozen Films – (SCAD ATL) – Charles McGinty
  •  Onset and Co – Brian Philips
  • Law The Outlaw – Immanuel Laidlaw