A VOICE FOR OUR GENERATION
High School Democrats of America (HSDA) is a national political organization that serves as an entry point to Democratic politics for youth activists from across the country. Thousands of our members work at the state and local level to advance the ideals of the Democratic Party, engage fellow students to become active within the American political system, and elect Democratic candidates to public office.
With our vast network of resources and chapters, we aim to provide a powerful and collective voice for politically-active high school students. HSDA is entirely student run and dedicated members from all walks of life have the chance to open new doors through their involvement in projects and events.
On occasion, our organization collaborates with other Democratic and Republican youth organizations on bipartisan voter registration efforts, and we work tirelessly to train the next generation of Democratic leaders.
HSDA acquired The Progressive Teen, a blog for progressive causes, in 2013 and now operates it as a current events and opinion publication with a separate leadership structure. The publication offers students the opportunity to voice their opinions on important civic issues and works to inspire meaningful political discourse.
THE BEATING HEART OF POLITICS
Our organization (a registered 527 group) empowers students to get involved campaigns, elections, and issues of the day. Instead of just discussing or educating themselves about current events, members can impact the political process itself and are strongly encouraged to gain first-hand experience working with candidates, allied organizations, and state and local Democratic parties.
In election years, HSDA has proven instrumental in various campaigns from Joseph Donnelly to Elizabeth Warren, and our members have made tens of thousands of calls for candidates of all levels; the New York High School Democrats made more than 28,000 swing state calls for President Obama’s re-election campaign alone in 2012. In 2013, HSDA effectively organized students in Maryland and Pennsylvania to contribute to GOTV efforts in Terry McAulliffe’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign. In 2014, the Connecticut High School Democrats knocked on more than 5,000 doors for Governor Malloy’s re-election campaign.
Since then, our efforts have only intensified. Members across the nation knocked on more than 43,000 doors, made nearly 103,000 phone calls, and registered close to 6,000 voters in 2016 alone. Others worked with the Clinton campaign as volunteers and organizing fellows, while many others served as Senate pages; in the past year, several HSDA state chairs were elected as delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
The leadership of the High School Democrats of America is separate on three main levels, reflective of the structure of the government of the United States: local, state and national. Local chapters, due to the differing political situations of each state, are generally given a high amount of autonomy.
THE LOCAL LEVEL
Local HSDA chapters, located within individual high schools, make up the pulse of the entire organization. Members on the local level – from the bustling streets of New York City to the quiet towns of rural Indiana – work on campaigns, hold fundraisers, and even run for office themselves in order to improve their communities and turn their states blue.
Individual chapters fall under their respective state organizations, who connect them with the national organization. State chapters, usually consisting of a state chair and a state committee/board, help organize statewide conferences, connect members to state candidates, and plan major phone banks and get-out-the-vote campaigns.
THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION
The national leadership of HSDA consists of three main bodies: the National Committee, the National Staff, and the National Executive Board. The National Committee, which votes on proposals from the Executive Board such as bylaw amendments, consists of two representatives from each chartered state/territory – the State Chair, and one member selected at the discretion of the state itself. The National Staff consists of members appointed by the Executive Board to provide input, work on specific tasks and initiatives, and essentially serve as an informal cabinet. Finally, the Executive Board consists of five officers democratically elected by HSDA’s national membership the National Chair, the Executive Vice Chair, the Communications Director, the Programs Director, and the Development Director.
In 2015, HSDA established an Adult Board of Advisors, a group of Democratic leaders who provide organizational continuity, outreach opportunities, and programming guidance. Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL) and Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX) currently serve as honorary co-chairs.