Project Voice 2016: Philly Youth Made Their Political Voices Heard

Logo for Project Voice: a skeleton from a Vesalius image lost in thought as it casts a vote into a ballot box.

We are one day away from the end of an exciting, acrimonious, and downright unusual Presidential campaign. This has given CEPI a unique opportunity to help prepare the future architects of public policy. To that end, this past Saturday, we hosted a special event for our youth programs called Project Voice 2016. We invited students from the Karabots Junior Fellows Program and Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program to come and get a glimpse into the political process by designing their own political parties and hosting an election. We divided the students into two political parties and hosted “conventions,” where they designed their own party platform, developed a party brand (including a name and logo) and nominated their own candidates. It was up to our parties to decide which were the most important issues facing our country, choosing from such contentious topics as student loans, economic inequality, and police brutality; they then debated over how their party would solve the issues facing our country. It was a marvel to watch them work out important issues; something that the two major American parties can take note of given this year’s election’s heavy focus on personalities over issues. The parties also went through the nomination process, wherein they chose a candidate to represent their platform.

CEPI youth debate which issues will be part of their party platform during the Project Voice 2016 event

Students sit around a long table in the Gross conference room to develop a platform for their political party as part of the Project Voice 2016 event

The event culminated in a showdown between the two party nominees in which they took part in a brief debate. They explained their party’s plans for the future and why they should be elected to an audience of volunteers from the University of Pennsylvania, who acted as undecided voters. This was then followed by our voters casting ballots for our candidates. After some networking between our candidates and our intrepid volunteers, we announced a winner. The decision was a close one, decided by a mere two votes!

Student candidates present their party platforms to an audience of undecided voters at the Project Voice 2016 event

Our students learned the challenges of deciding which issues are important and how to convince others to believe in their plan of action. In doing so, they gained some hands-on insight into the world of politics.

Photo of Viviana, a student in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, who is wearing a top hat to commemorate her victory in the Project Voice 2016 election.

Our winning candidate: Viviana




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