The 2023 Mayoral runoff saw the youth vote play a crucial role in the election of now Mayor Brandon Johnson. Voters aged 18 to 24 years old flexed their electoral muscles, increasing their participation in the mayoral run-off election by 32% according to data from the Chicago Board of Elections. There was also a 24% increase by those 25 to 34.

Mayor Johnson, a former organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union, credited his “multicultural, multi-generational movement” for carrying him from relative obscurity to the fifth floor of City Hall. He promised to create a government that truly belongs to the people of Chicago. “It’s more than voting,” Johnson said in his victory speech. “We’re building power.”

It is imperative that more young people actively participate in the decision-making in their communities and the city including voting and ongoing civic engagement, advocacy, policy development and implementation. KOCO believes in building the power of the people every day. From community organizing, leadership development, education, and training, we empower our young people, senior citizens, and the entire family. We aim to show young Chicagoans how to participate in their own rescue by actively engaging in the community and advocating for the changes they want to see in their city.

When young people are truly empowered and encouraged to use their power they create real positive change in our communities and the city overall. This process of investing in young people benefits everyone right now and into the future. As KOCO continues to work toward developing the next generation of leaders, the role of youth in Chicago’s politics and communities will undoubtedly remain a force for positive change.

While the city seeks to partner more authentically with community organizations, churches and other stakeholders to keep young people safe over the holiday weekend, KOCO will continue to advocate for year-round investment in our youth. Below are some youth-led, community-supported events and activities designed to engage young people, create safe spaces and advocate for policy change.