Grand Valley Students United

Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of SPOKE+BLOSSOM

PHOTO: JORDAN CHAVEZ  L to R: Founders Rebecca Dilbeck, Gabriela Reitz, Annika Johnson, Katie Fry, and Johneth Price

PHOTO: JORDAN CHAVEZ

L to R: Founders Rebecca Dilbeck, Gabriela Reitz, Annika Johnson, Katie Fry, and Johneth Price

The youth of the Grand Valley have long neglected their voice and relegated their advocacy to the adults. In the process, the needs of the youth have often gone unheard and unmet. Grand Valley Students United (GVSU) was founded over one year ago to fill this gap in representation.

GVSU is a non-partisan nonprofit that brings a student voice to the politics of the Grand Valley. It was started by five teens, representing the four stand-alone high schools in Mesa County.

“We understood that as students, we had an ability to enact real change by working together. We are not focused on antiquated ideas or set in our ways; rather, we are open to new ideas and innovative thinking,” says Venice Miller, founding member of GVSU and Fruita Monument High School student. The goal of the group is to promote student activism through five pillars: youth voter registration, common sense gun laws, environmental conservation, education and supporting the community. Today there are 30 core members.

While all members of GVSU are high schoolers, they don’t just work during the school year. Last summer, they worked nonstop registering youth to vote and representing the Grand Valley in Aspen at the Ideas Conference. During the school year, they continue to hold voter registration drives. At Palisade High School, they have registered more than 40 percent of the senior class. They also hold community forums, participate in marches and represent youth in Denver during lobbying trips and in Washington D.C. to meet with legislators at the federal level. This past election season, members spent hours canvassing and making calls in support of the Community Center initiative.

“GVSU is a manifestation of hours of meeting, organizing and brainstorming. These experiences help me value the work I do, and I could not be happier to work with others my age wanting to make a change,” says GVSU member Liliana Flanigan of Palisade High School.

GVSU continues to work on its five pillars. Upcoming projects include a march for mental health and a partnership with Powderhorn to raise money to keep winter cold.

Through these efforts, GVSU demonstrates their commitment to the environment, safe schools and student well-being. You can find out more at gvstudentsunited.org or contact them at gvstudentsunited@gmail.com.

Gabriela ReitzWho We Are