For more than 15 years, ConnPIRG Education Fund has provided research and educational information necessary to better inform consumers and better prepare citizens in Connecticut. By investigating problems affecting the general public of Connecticut, ConnPIRG Education Fund seeks to be a resource for people wanting a greater understanding of their community. We develop strategic plans to solve problems and our plans are geared toward engaging more people in the process to make our democracy function better.
ConnPIRG Education Fund also has more than 40 years of experience providing training to thousands of youth on college campuses, and our mission as an organization is in part to train young people to take on issues they care about. We believe in training the next generation of civic leaders. By honing the skills of passionate young people and equipping them to be better public speakers, writers and motivational leaders, ConnPIRG Education Fund has helped prepare dozens of young people to be effective civic leaders in their community.
- ConnPIRG Education Fund’s New Voters Project built a list of 512 young people who pledged to vote on Election Day, and made over 1,000 get-out-the-vote contacts. ConnPIRG Education Fund volunteers and staff reached out to potential voters in New Haven to allow them to get the information they needed to register to vote.
- ConnPIRG joined with PIRGs in other states and gathered the support of hundreds of doctors, medical professionals and small farmers as well as thousands of young people to show Subway, among the largest buyers of meat in the world, that switching to antibiotic-free meat is good for both public health and the company's health. In October, 2015, Subway announced it would phase out antibiotics from its meat supply.
- This year, we began a Hartford-based training program for young adults ages 17-24 at local high schools, in order to broaden our youth training efforts.
- Last summer, our Citizen Outreach directors and staff helped educate tens of thousands of people throughout the state of Connecticut about issues like the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms.
- We're working to get five more major restaurant chains to commit to selling meat raised without routine antibiotics. This will help us stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms.
- We have a goal to develop youth leadership training programs throughout the state to work with youth who would not normally have access to the training programs we run at the campuses we have a more traditional presence on in Connecticut.
- In the coming year, we're working to educate the public through the research we do on the best and worst transportation priorities in the state. We will release reports about how the environment and people’s needs can be better prioritized by the state.
- Our leadership development work with students is currently limited to three campuses. We’re looking for new partnerships with schools so we can expand to reach more students across the state.
- We’re working to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. We are looking for volunteers to help educate and engage CT through social media, panels, media work, and public outreach.
- We're working to raise the voice of the public about transportation reform that would reflect the state’s need to address the environment. Funding would allow us to run a robust program, including transit and pedestrian friendly resources, and community outreach.
- We are well positioned to spotlight the potential of small donor incentives to tackle big money in politics. We're looking for part time interns to do research and education to prop up Connecticut as an example with good campaign finance laws, and examine where our system falls short.
- Lead is a toxic heavy metal that impairs how kids learn, grow and behave. Many school buildings were built using lead pipes and plumbing back when we did not fully understand the danger. Now we do, but in many schools, they still have these old lead pipes. With funding, we could do the research and education it will take to address this problem in Connecticut.
We often hear how the younger
generations don’t care or are different, but my experience is that every
generation has people who care about the issues that society struggles
to address. My time with PIRG leads me to believe that all that most
need to get involved are the tools to be effective. If people don’t
believe they can make a difference, they often don’t try. When they
know they can, leaders will step to the forefront.
I have been lucky enough in
the 30+ years that I’ve been involved to see this firsthand. I often
get a smile on my face when a former student intern or volunteer or
staffer comes up to me and says that their PIRG experience taught them
how to approach a problem, solve an issue or challenge authority. I
know we make a difference in their lives and that is why I am still
In March 2015, we helped convince McDonald’s to stop
serving chicken raised on our life-saving medicines. Shortly after,
Tyson Foods, a major chicken producer and McDonald's supplier, followed
suit. Then, in October, we convinced Subway, with more restaurants than
any other chain in the United States, to make a commitments to stop
serving any meat raised on antibiotics, starting with chicken by the end
These were huge victories to protect public health, but
now, other major chains need to take action. That's why we're focusing
on KFC — the largest chain of fried chicken restaurants in the world. If we don’t take decisive action soon, we could face a world in which life-saving antibiotics no longer work.
Americans are increasingly looking for
more and better options to get around — options like expanded public
transit, better biking alternatives, walkable neighborhoods and
high-performance intercity trains. But while our transportation
preferences are changing, too often our transportation policies are
stuck in the past.
Our work has helped to educate the public
about the changing ways we get around and the need for policy reform to
respond to and encourage further transformation. Our nation’s
highway-focused transportation system leaves too many communities
isolated from opportunity, creates too much pollution, causes health
problems, and does a poor job of getting Americans where they want to
go. While Americans increasingly want to live in communities with other
ways to travel, our vision for a national transportation system is
largely stuck in the 1950s. Instead of simply lurching from one funding
crisis to the next, our nation needs to make smart choices that will
prepare us for the 21st
century. These include a forward-looking 21st century transportation
system that serves more places, is more reliable, creates less pollution
and reduces global warming emissions.
Kate Cohen is responsible for program and organizational development, research, and public education for ConnPIRG Education Fund. Before becoming State Director, Kate worked as a Campaign Organizer with CoPIRG. While in Colorado, Kate ran the New Voter's Project at multiple college campuses, where she trained dozens of young people in organizing, and helped register thousands of new voters. She also worked on our campaign to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. She engaged hundreds of college students on the issue and worked with many health professionals, and was ultimately successful in helping to get both McDonald's and Subway to commit to selling meat raised without routine antibiotics.
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