Young Americans for Freedom
Grantee Organization: Young America’s Foundation (YAF)
Fund Type: Project-based Fund
3-year Granting Plan:
Table 6: Bedrock Foundation’s 3-year Granting Plan to YAF
Grantee Nonprofit Organization
(Unit: Thousand US Dollars)
Young Americans for Freedom
Young America’s Foundation
Traditional value advocacy and action education
Grantee Organization Introduction
Young America’s Foundation is committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values.
As the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement, the Foundation introduces thousands of American youth to these principles by providing essential conferences, seminars, educational materials, internships, and speakers to young people across the country.
Young America’s Foundation has a deep relationship with President Reagan. The foundation stepped forward to save President Reagan’s Western White House, Rancho del Cielo, in the spring of 1998 to preserve it as a living monument to Ronald Reagan to pass on his ideas to future generations. President Reagan committed himself to reach young people with his ideas—a goal that is also central to the Foundation’s mission.
The Foundation has several important centers and departments, including Rancho Del Cielo, The Reagan Ranch Center, Reagan’s Boyhood Home, the National Journalism Center, Young Americans for Freedom, and Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, etc.
In the fiscal year 2019, Young America’s Foundation spent $21,746,736 on educational programs. That accounted for 83% of YAF’s total operating expenses. It is through YAF programs – National conferences and seminars for high school and college students, the largest conservative campus lecture program in the country, Young Americans for Freedom chapters, National Journalism Center internships, and the Reagan Ranch project – that thousands of young people are inspired to become involved in the Conservative Movement.
YAF Official Website: https://www.yaf.org/
Grantee Project Introduction
The Bedrock Foundation plans to provide three gifts in the total amount of 250,000 US dollars to YAF between 2021-2023 for Young Americans for Freedom Project.
- (1)General Background
It can be difficult to hear conservative ideas at school. Many in academia espouse leftist ideas, yet the principles of free markets and limited government are rarely presented accurately. Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) brings students at school together to advocate for individual freedom, free enterprise, a strong national defense, and traditional American values by getting them involved with Young Americans for Freedom to start a chapter.
In 2011, Young America’s Foundation unified with Young Americans for Freedom, which serves as the Foundation’s chapter affiliate on college and high school campuses across the country. Founded by William F. Buckley, Jr. and a group of young conservatives in 1960 at his home in Sharon, Connecticut, Young Americans for Freedom today promotes to youth the principles of limited government, individual freedom, free enterprise, a strong national defense, and traditional values, as outlined in the Sharon Statement. The chapters accomplish this by participating in a wide range of campus initiatives, such as the 9/11: Never Forget Project, Freedom Week, and the GPA Redistribution Contest, among others; and by hosting prominent conservative speakers.
Currently, the Project has 446 chapters, including 213 colleges and 228 high schools (Figure 20 & Figure 21).
Figure 20 The Location of YAF 446 Chapters
Figure 21 YAF College and High School Chapter Map
- (2)Strategies and actions for cultivating young people
Ideally, students would get involved as early as high school. One of the project’s ongoing goals is to move to middle school ages. Students as young as 13 currently have access to resources from Young America’s Foundation, but typically, students get involved with Young America’s Foundation in high school. YAF reaches students at different stages of schooling, having freshmen in high school up to seniors in college as core participants in YAF programs and campus activities. All students naturally move on from YAF activities when they graduate from college. Students, upon college graduation, become alumni. Special alumni activities take place nationwide throughout the year, including events, trips to the Reagan Ranch, happy hours, and book events. However, the majority of the work focuses on the school students rather than alumni.
YAF relies heavily online on the recruitment of key students who could start and hold a chapter at school. Currently, YAF has 563,000 subscribers to YAF YouTube channel. Due to the strong work on digital media, in most cases, students come to YAF to start chapters.
YAF provides various support to chapter leaders.
- Hosting a conservative speaker is an important way for the chapter to impact its community. YAF provides toolkits and speaker resource libraries and teaching these campus clubs how to host speakers.
- YAF hosts annual, sometimes bi-annual YAF Activism Training Seminars, which are dedicated to inviting the chapter leaders from across the country to YAF headquarters to have an intimate training seminar that sketches out the steps leaders will need to take to ensure their chapter’s success on campus. Leaders maintain regular contact with YAF staff.
- YAF supports students in their regular activism projects on campus from recruitment during student activity fairs, to their weekly meetings with fellow students, to the national YAF projects such as the 9/11 Never Forget Project, No More Che Day, Freedom Week, and others.
- Students will sometimes face hurdles at school, and YAF staff is a phone call away ready to advise. If necessary, YAF will step in with a legal team to put pressure on the school. However, YAF often has students do much of the legwork on their projects so that they can both take credit for the success of an event, but also, so that their skills will encourage the club that they can fight for their rights on campus and develop the perseverance to defend their values.
- Annual conferences are the most powerful way for creating solid chapters, motivating existing chapters, and preparing members to become future leaders. To avoid the dissolve problem of strong chapters at key schools after leaders’ graduation, YAF will bend over backward and try to help them get new members to the programs to create more loyal advocates for YAF on their campus who are underclassmen. YAF spends a lot of time on phone, email, and zoom, with chapters to help coach them through the many intricacies of group management and organization.
（3）The Project and YAF’s Long Game
In 2021, the new president of Young America’s Foundation, Governor Scott Walker launched The Long Game, a campaign to impact America’s youth. The ambitious goal includes many future plans related to the Young American For Freedom Project.
- To establish a YAF presence on more than 4,000 Campuses.
- Bring a YAF speaker to campuses in all 50 states and add new speakers to the YAF roster, expanding the premier campus lecture program.
- Fight free speech violations by lawsuits.
- Organize more conferences and events programs to invite a new generation into the Conservative Movement.
- Create appealing programs for younger students in Elementary and middle school.
The Bedrock Foundation is willing to support YAF for two main reasons. First, the Bedrock Foundation sees the widespread problem of “political correctness” in the education system of American colleges and high schools. In the United States of free speech, the voice of conservatism cannot be expressed freely on campus. The Bedrock Foundation believes that this is an educational issue that needs to be improved urgently. Second, Daofeng and Angela Foundation will plan to invest USD 500,000-1,000,000 to support YAF. As mentioned earlier, as a strategic partner, Bedrock Foundation will follow the principle of joint funding and participate in the investment in this project.
At present, the joint funding team has completed the basic data investigation part of YAF’s due diligence work. Compared with similar institutions such as the Leadership Institute, YAF has outstanding performance in project and financial information disclosure and fundraising cost control. In July and September 2021, the joint funding team and YAF’s fundraising department conducted two rounds of project grounding discussions and obtained further project details, including a list of the existing 446 Chapter schools. In August 2021, Xuemei Feng, a member of the joint funding team participated in YAF’s 500-person annual meeting in Texas. At the annual meeting, she conducted random interviews with participating students and donors and received positive feedback.
Next, the funding process will enter the stage of project proposal discussion and project site visits. On the one hand, the fundraising department of YAF will submit project proposals and budgets, and it is expected that there will be 3-5 rounds of discussions and revisions; on the other hand, the joint funding team has proposed a request for project site visits, including 10 campus chapter teams in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Indiana, and Boston areas.