Democrats are launching an outside group seeking to help address economic challenges facing millennials who have become disconnected from politics.
On Wednesday, Democratic leaders announced the formation of the Future Forum Foundation in hopes of bolstering the work of the House Future Forum caucus, a group of the youngest Democratic members of Congress.
The nonprofit group, chaired by former Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida, will research the changing nature of work in the so-called gig-economy as well as the thorny issues posed by automation, artificial intelligence, and the growing burden of student debt.
The organization is intended to serve a series of roles — part research hub, part conduit between businesses and Democratic legislators in Congress.
The foundation has begun talks with organizations and businesses to advocate public policies and business practices that provide financial stability for young Americans.
Murphy said the foundation would help strengthen the existing House caucus, which he believes is a source of fresh leadership in the party, by studying economic issues facing millennials and in some cases developing progressive, center-left, and bipartisan policies that can appeal directly to young Americans.
“I think a big part of what needs to happen across the board is we need some fresh blood, we need people, new energy,” Murphy told Business Insider.
“I think groups like this will help — new leaders will rise from this. When there is new blood and new leadership I think some folks will come from this group.”
The foundation is hosting its kickoff event Wednesday in Washington, DC, bringing together 20 businesses that employ and serve a largely millennial audience.
Many younger Democratic politicians have been keenly aware of the growing disillusionment with political parties among young voters who largely vote Democratic but are unreliable at the ballot box and approach Democratic candidates warily.
According to the US Census Bureau, in the 2016 election, people ages 18 to 29 voted at a slightly higher rate than they did in 2012, though young voters still voted at lower rates than any other age cohort.
But while President Barack Obama won 60% of millennials to Mitt Romney’s 37% in 2012, Hillary Clinton won 55% of millennial voters to Donald Trump’s 37%, meaning roughly one in 10 voted for third-party candidates like Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, or other write-in candidates.
Also last year, nearly as many millennials identified as nonpartisan as those who identified as Democrats.
The House Future Forum caucus has ramped up its activity of late, with some Democrats grumbling that part of the party’s problem may lie in its lack of credentialed young leaders.
Formed in 2014, the 26-member House Future Forum added several members to its ranks following the 2016 election and, according to its chair, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, launched a separate campaign arm earlier this year to back Future Forum candidates for reelection.
Swalwell said the caucus had visited tech incubators, breweries, community colleges, and other locations where millennials tend to congregate in 40 cities, meeting with students and new employees and millennial-focused businesses with the goal of identifying issues facing young Americans.
“This Swiss army knife is getting more and more tools to help young people,” Swalwell said of the new foundation. “That shows that young leaders are on the rise in and out of Congress.”