Black, Indigenous and youth of color deserve to be paid fairly, equitably and with abundance and thriving in mind. As an organization where many leaders get their start, we aim to set an example for what it means to equitably compensate and value young people.
Over the last few years, we’ve evolved a new compensation philosophy to make sure our policies truly reflect our values. While the conversation originally focused on staff pay equity, we have expanded our philosophy and practices to include paying all members of our youth cohorts. Thanks to generous community members and donors and with foundation support, we have been able to take action on our philosophy and turned many of our goals into action.
Paying young people fairly, not banking on “volunteerism”
Our youth organizing cohorts drive so much of the work we do. We recognize that to be in alignment with our values, we need to pay young people for their time and effort. In 2021, we began to compensate our teen Youth Action Team with a stipend, and expanded that compensation policy to encompass all our teen youth programs in the following year. Starting in 2023, all members of our youth organizing cohorts (ages 13-35) will be compensated for their time.
In addition to our belief in paying young people, we know that relying on an unpaid volunteer model disproportionately impacts low-income youth, presenting an economic barrier and perpetuating a false expectation that everyone has free time to spare. For that reason, all internships at Next Up are also paid, hourly, to ensure these opportunities are accessible.
Staff pay equity and establishing a salary floor
We strive to be a leader in our compensation practices by providing not only a living wage, but a thriving wage for staff at all levels of our organization. This means setting salaries at or above the median for comparable positions in our area and increasing our salary “floor” to ensure none of our employees earn less than what they need to live. We reject exploitative capitalist compensation philosophies, instead designing our compensation structure to attract, retain, and care for our employees. Our compensation practices are inextricably linked with our mission; a thriving wage is critically necessary to center people most impacted by racial, economic, and gender injustices, and providing a competitive wage helps to attract and retain talented staff who move our mission forward.
Over time, we intend to share more about these practices with the larger community, and to keep updating our policies and practices as we learn and grow.
To contribute to our vision of abundance and holistic resources for young people on our staff and in our programs: