RISE Organization advocates for free college, informs students how to vote

Sophomore RISE intern, Jessica Tauriainen, poses on the sidewalk in her RISE shirt on Sept. 23, 2020.

Some people believe their vote won't make a difference, but members of RISE think otherwise.

RISE is a national, student-led nonprofit that helps students register to vote and advocates for free college. RISE originated in California but moved to Michigan in 2019.

Members of RISE want their voices heard and think the best way to bring about change is voting progressives into office. They encourage everyone, even non-progressives, to vote.

“Voting is so important and really vital; a lot more than I think people realize,” RISE member Abbie Slate said. “We really need progressives in office to make the plans that we want and the change that we need to see in the world, because obviously, what is going on now is not okay."

Slate, an Allen Park sophomore, said RISE amplifies student’s voices, with each member being under the age of 35. Joining together in one large group raises awareness of the issues and policies that they believe are important.

Just like many other organizations, RISE had to make some changes amid COVID-19. Switching over to virtual without any in-person contact was not ideal, but they did their best to get their message across. 

Even with the adjustments, success has come their way. 

Earlier this year, Whitmer signed the "My Reconnect" bill, which was advocated by RISE. The bill allows for people under the age of 25 to attend two years of community college for free. State director, Hannah Miller, said that RISE is now trying to further the development of these laws into free college for all.  

Miller said RISE mobilized about 10,000 Michigan students to create a plan to vote in the March primary election and the November election. 

RISE is also making sure students know how to vote, where to vote, where to get an application for their absentee ballot and where to drop off their absentee ballot. Miller said making sure students know all there is to know about voting, along with who and what they are voting for, is important. 

“While I think that everyone should vote at each election, I think that being an informed voter is essential. RISE’s program is an amazing resource for that,” RISE intern and Macomb sophomore Jessica Taurianen said. “Not voting is the same outcome as voting for the opposer. Using your vote to help better this world is essential to get the right people in office.” 

RISE works with other non-profit organizations such as ACLU, Michigan Student Powers, and the Sierra Club. Miller, along with the other members of RISE, believe that making connections is important to helping the growth of not just RISE, but other organizations as well.