The Black Youth Project has been one of the only institutions to consistently monitor the thoughts and actions of young people of color. Since our beginning in 2005, part of our work has been focused on amplifying the voices and perspectives of young people, especially young people of color, by asking them through surveys what they think about politics, the economy and their lives. We have collected data and published short policy memos and full reports on what young Americans think about a range of issues including the Affordable Care Act, the killing of Black Americans by the police, immigration policy and the rights of LGBT members of our communities. We are very proud of our work to make visible the policy preferences and political attitudes of young Americans, especially young Americans of color. We believe, however, that a more consistent and rigorous survey infrastructure is needed to ensure the timely monitoring and amplification of the voices of the next generation of the American public. GenForward is that critical piece of needed infrastructure.


Beyond voting, the most consistent method for monitoring the pulse of the public is the use of surveys and polling. The reporting of statistics on what percentage of Americans support or oppose policies works to insert the voice of the public into public-policy discussions. Unfortunately, because of cost and interest, the voices of young Americans, especially young Americans of color are routinely absent in public opinion polls. For example, while much of the news over the past year has focused on negative interactions between the police and young black Americans, few news outlets have taken the initiative to survey young people, especially black and Latino young people, exploring their political attitudes on issues such as policing and violence. The absence of polling among these constituencies is a signal that we do not take seriously their standing as young citizens and critical members of our political community.


The GenForward survey is a project of the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Interviews for the survey are conducted with a representative sample from GenForward®, a nationally representative survey panel of adults ages 18-30 recruited and administered by NORC at the University of Chicago and funded by grants to the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The GenForward survey was built from two sample sources: Fifty-four percent of the completed interviews are sourced from NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Panel. AmeriSpeak is a probability based panel that also uses address-based sample but sourced from the NORC National Frame with enhanced sample coverage. During the initial recruitment phase of the AmeriSpeak panel, randomly selected U.S. households were sampled with a known, non-zero probability of selection and then contacted by U.S. mail, email, telephone, and field interviewers (face-to-face). Forty-six percent of the completed interviews are sourced from the Black Youth Project (BYP) panel of young adults recruited by NORC. The BYP sample is from a probability-based household panel that uses an address-based sample from a registered voter database of the entire U.S. Households were selected using stratified random sampling to support over-sampling of households with African Americans, Latino/as, and Asian Americans ages 18-30. NORC contacted sampled households by U.S. mail and by telephone, inviting them to register and participate in public opinion surveys twice a month. Panelists on both the BYP and AmeriSpeak panels are invited to register for the panel via the web or by telephone to participate in public opinion surveys.