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State Honoree

Matthew Oppenheimer

Idaho

Matthew Oppenheimer, 18, of Boise, Idaho, a student at Boise High School, founded and presides over the Youth Lobbying Organization (YLO), a group of 250 young people across Idaho interested in speaking out on political issues. Matt conceived of YLO when he attempted to lobby in support of a proposed bill and realized that he had no idea exactly how to insert himself into the political scene. “Youth need to have the resources and support to speak out on the issues they care about,” said Matt, who moved quickly to get his organization up and running. He sought the assistance of both a Democratic and a Republican state representative, who helped Matt plan meetings with state legislators for YLO members, and helped secure Idaho’s governor to speak at the first annual YLO event. In less than a year, Matt has raised more than $2,500 to support the organization, set up an advisory council to ensure continuation after he leaves, and developed a Web site. As interest continues to grow, Matt hopes to expand YLO into a national organization that can give young people across America the opportunity to have their voices heard.