The Power of Millennials

By LIFT on May 13, 2014

Categories: First Person Perspective, Our Work


It seems like everyone is talking about them these days. I was at a marketing conference, recently, where the topic turned to Millennials. I heard the same comments and stereotypes I have heard many times before. Millennials are lazy, immature, entitled, and too attached to technology. But this time, something was different: it went beyond the playful banter of “how do we make them stop taking selfies long enough to see our products?” One panelist even asked how we find the “upright Millennials,” described as “those who are not living in their parents’ basements eating hot pockets.”

I kid you not. I was compelled to respond. “I am right here, I can hear you, and I am sick of this!”

Do not worry, though. I will not tell you a story of how I prove all the Millennial stereotypes wrong. In fact, I know I embody more than a few. Instead, I am going to point you to LIFT, an innovative nonprofit where every day, Millennials do the hard work to help lift people out of poverty for good.

At LIFT, volunteer Advocates, primarily college students, work one on one with low-income community members to help them set goals and work towards achieving them. In fact, this past year, LIFT mobilized over 900 volunteers, many of which are Millennials, to engage in over 77,000 hours of service working with LIFT Members. That’s an average of 84 hours of service per volunteer and $1.7 million worth of workforce. That is not even including the 24 AmeriCorps staff members (also Millennials) who work full-time with LIFT generating over 48,000 AmeriCorps hours and $1 million worth of workforce per year. For those of you who are keeping count, each year, these Millennials contribute almost $3 million worth of service to our six locations: New York, Boston, DC, Philly, Chicago, and LA.

That is enough to buy 2,967,032 hot pockets, in case you were wondering.

In some ways, LIFT can be considered a Millennial. At 15 years old, we are no longer a startup, but we are still carving out our place in world. Being a Millennial comes with a sense of possibility. LIFT sees the possibility and ability in everyone. We see our Members’ ability to achieve their goals and create positive change in their lives and we see our Advocates’ ability to help others get through their shaky ground moments. We know that things are not okay in this world, that they can be better, and that we can and will change them.

It is exactly this way of thinking that draws people to LIFT, myself included. While you may argue that we are not changing the world, I want to point out that every time a LIFT Member gets a job or a safe home, we are changing their world.

That said, if you were to ask me where you can find these “upright Millennials.” Well, you can find them at LIFT working every day with some of the nation’s most resilient citizens to help them find better jobs, safer housing, and an education for themselves and their kids.