For R14: Intentional Growth Requires Intentional Investment

YDSA chapters do not currently have a way of reliably getting funds from the national organization. Supporters of Resolution 14 argue in favor of a grant system that would get funds to chapters and allow the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) to have more influence over local campaigns. 


Lots of ink has been spilled over how YDSA needs more “intentional recruitment” to become an organization which is representative of the diverse working class. In our local chapters, this involves focusing on issues which deeply affect all working-class people on and off our campuses, engaging with existing community organizations, working to develop the politics and leadership skills of our chapter members from all backgrounds, and even helping to establish YDSA chapters at neighboring campuses. 

The concrete steps we have been able to take on a national level, however, have historically been very limited. National can recommend courses of actions for chapters to take, and can provide mentorship when a chapter requests it, but the incentives to do so have been based on the chapter’s existing level of buy-in to national and its priorities. A robust system of chapter grants as laid out in “Resolution 14: Establishing a Chapter Grant System,” with priorities set by both convention and the National Coordinating Committee (NCC), has the potential to provide YDSA a never-before-seen level of control over the growth and direction of the organization on the national level.

R14 states that the NCC should prioritize giving grants to chapters who will use the funds for campaigns which increase engagement with BIPOC communities, work with their local DSA chapter, are part of the work of existing national commissions or a national campaign, grow the chapter, and are located on community colleges, historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs) or public universities. These guidelines ensure that these grants will grow and promote the work of the organization in a way which matches the political decisions of convention and the NCC.

For National Priorities and Expanding Chapter Capacity

Due to the mass character of Y/DSA, national priorities and campaigns have always been “opt-in.” National is never going to, or be able to, force any chapter or chapter member to participate in a national priority campaign, whether it is approved by convention or not. National campaigns, such as College for All, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal all suffered from a lack of chapter and membership buy-in. 

No amount of money is going to make a campaign applicable to a chapter’s local conditions, but what it can do is allow chapters to overcome barriers that would have otherwise blocked them from participating in ambitious national campaigns. By making it known that a chapter could receive financial support from national YDSA for participating in a national priority further encourages buy-in and gives every other decision made at the national convention more weight. Additionally, requiring that the chapters actually have a plan to use the financial support makes it even more likely that their campaigns will be successful, the chapter will grow, and that we will develop more life long socialist organizers.

For Integration with DSA

In order for national priorities to be run successfully however, YDSA chapters also need direct support from socialist organizers who understand their immediate conditions. YDSA chapters that have a strong relationship with their DSA chapter generally are stronger and last longer than chapters who don’t have that type of relationship. They have access to a wealth of mentorship, experience, advice, and resources which make their campaigns stronger and members more likely to stay in DSA for the long run. The chapter grant system establishes direct incentives for YDSA chapters to develop a consistent plan to engage with their DSA chapters. Fostering relationships between YDSA and DSA on a local level is paramount to the longevity of the socialist movement.

It also seeks to encourage the integration of YDSA within DSA as, by encouraging more contact between chapters, it builds a direct pipeline from YDSA to DSA on a local level. By building this pipeline directly at the local level, it further fulfills our goals to develop lifelong socialist organizers.

For Diversity

By prioritizing the universities which are most representative of the working class we can play an important role in not just diversifying YDSA, but DSA as well. Unfortunately, these chapters often face the most obstacles towards organizing. Community colleges and commuter schools have all of the normal problems YDSA chapters encounter, but at a level which makes organizing without additional support incredibly difficult.

In order for chapters at two-year institutions, like community colleges, to last they must speed up the already tight timeline for recruitment and membership development that most chapters face. These chapters need to take students from unorganized, to member, and to leader within the span of two years. Commuter schools often lack a strong culture of participation in student organizations, which is more common on the average college campus. This means they deal with strained capacity as they need to come up with different ways to engage and recruit students. Support from YDSA national would allow these chapters to run large and effective campaigns that will quickly grow and recruit members to the chapter. The criteria encouraging them to connect with their local DSA chapter will allow them to develop connections and mentors who will help keep their chapters active for the long haul.

HBCUs do not inherently contain any unique obstacles, besides the fact that Y/DSA has a reputation for being a very white organization. Providing direct support for new chapters at these universities will allow them to quickly grow and sustain themselves, leading to a national organization which in the long run is more diverse. 

Even for a chapter at a typical four-year university, the NCC can use the chapter grant system to encourage intentional recruitment on the local level. An essential part of cultivating a more racially diverse membership is running campaigns which tackle racial justice justice head-on. By materially supporting campaigns centered around racial justice, police abolition, immigrant rights, or which have a plan to directly engage with communities of color YDSA national will be putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to intentional recruitment.

For Socialism in our Lifetimes

Up to this point, YDSA’s explosive growth has been due to a combination of good timing, dumb luck, and an intense amount of work from groups of disconnected individual organizers. Due to DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC) approving stipends for the 2023 budget, we have a never before seen opportunity for the NCC to have a true guiding hand in the material priorities of the organization. Making gains for the socialist movement means ensuring that through our national convention we have the ability to guide our growth in the most sustainable and effective ways possible.

We strongly urge all delegates to support R14 at convention, for all NCC candidates to consider how to responsibly use this new tool, and for all chapters to start planning for how they can take advantage of this amazing opportunity.