Image Credits: YAF
Joining Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) was one of my better life decisions.
When I was a freshman, I remember entering my student organization fair looking for a conservative organization to join. I’d already stalked all the different organizations my school had to offer. In fact, I had composed a list of all the conservative and libertarian groups on my campus. After my first meeting with our YAF chapter, I was hooked.
In 1960, Young Americans for Freedom was started when a group of young adults met together in William F. Buckley Jr.’s house to create the Sharon Statement, our founding document that details all that we believe as conservatives. Fast forward to 2018, and YAF has been noted as one of the foremost activism groups on college campuses in the United States by media publications, such as the New York Times and popular figures, like Vice President Mike Pence.
Young Americans for Freedom chapters are the affiliated student groups for Young America’s Foundation, a national nonprofit that was started nine years after the creation of the first chapter groups. The Foundation was created by a chapter member, and current chairman, Ron Robinson. Today, chapter groups promote freedom at universities with the help of the Foundation.
Joining or starting a YAF chapter is one of the best ways for high school and college students to impact their fellow students and communities. It also provides life-changing experiences and unforgettable opportunities.
Conferences, activism and speakers
Sure, there are plenty of ways to find conservative speakers to bring to your school. YAF, however, has perfected the process or has gotten it as perfect as it can be. Bringing a conservative speaker to a liberal campus can be challenging regardless.
YAF has been the leader for campus lectures for years, helping popularize speakers like Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, Steven Crowder, and Christina Hoff Sommers. According to the New York Times, YAF has more than doubled its campus programs over the past two years alone. On any given week, there is at least one YAF campus lecture somewhere in the country.
YAF’s staff is with you from initial plans all the way through the end of the lecture. If you run into administrative trouble, such as ridiculous security fees or the disinviting of your speaker, YAF will do everything they can to make sure the event happens.
YAF’s speaking list is full of great people who speak on an expansive list of topics. With each speaker you bring, you are cultivating the conservative message on your campus and exposing other students to new ideas.
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to bring dozens of center-right speakers to your campus at one time. The good news is that opportunity is available at YAF conferences. Attend one and you won’t be disappointed. While there are always tons of people to meet, they keep conferences at a reasonable size.
In addition to general conferences that take place in Washington D.C., Young America’s Foundation also preserved Rancho Del Cielo, President Ronald Reagan’s ranch in the mountains of Santa Barbara. Being able to walk through the home that he loved was the most humbling experience of my life. Trying to describe the experience wouldn’t do it the justice it deserves. I can only urge you to jump on any opportunity to go there.
Notable alumni and supporters
YAF has nurtured so many young leaders, many of whom grew up to be some of the hardest-working and prominent people in the conservative movement.
Among YAF alumni are individuals who expanded upon the conservative movement with other groups, such as Michelle Easton, who started The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, and Morton Blackwell, who founded The Leadership Institute. The founder of the Libertarian Party was a YAF alumnus.
The Conservative Political Action Conference was started in joint effort between YAF, American Conservative Union, Human Events, and National Review. Former president of the National Rifle Association, David Keene, started my own campus’ YAF Chapter in 1965.
President Ronald Reagan was the Honorary National Chairman for YAF for over four decades. A number of US Senators and House Representatives, along with former Vice President Dan Quayle and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are all YAF alumni.
In addition to people who’ve emerged from YAF to be successful members of the movement, there are people who didn’t participate as students, but put effort and faith into YAF. These are folks who won’t benefit directly from the work YAF does on campuses but continue to give money and time to the organization, and I am so incredibly grateful for that.
These generous individuals want to see the values that they believe in spread and nurtured among young Americans. They want us to succeed as leaders and patriots. What I love best about YAF is that we are a huge group of high school and college students who will not fail the people who’ve believed in us from the start. We will continue to work hard to give our supporters hope for America’s future.
If you’re willing to work hard, there is no end to what you can do through YAF. Look no further than the alumni described above. They got their start in YAF chapters as I did myself. I entered college as a music major who listened to Ben Shapiro podcasts in my free time. I joined YAF, not having ever really being involved in politics. YAF provided me an outlet to discover what I truly loved doing. It has done this for countless people before me.