How to get Gen Z to care about politics? Throw a nationwide pizza party

Three Gen Z girls smile at a table. Beside them is a tall stack of pizza boxes.

It’s an “idea so ‘elementary’ it just might work,” according to Cameron Katz, the head of content and partnerships at Made By Us.

That idea? Pizza parties in cities across the United States, all with the same goal: To connect Gen Z voters over pizza and learn about American history.

Made By Us is a nationwide network of over 400 museums and historic sites that serve as civic hubs for young adults. In 2021, the organization created its flagship program, Civic Season, an annual tradition led by a group of Gen Z fellows that spans from Juneteenth to July 4th to help inspire young people to get involved in democracy.

Three Gen Z girls smile at a table. Beside them is a tall stack of pizza boxes.
Photo courtesy of Made By Us

The season includes a myriad of activations, like quiz bowls, socratic dialogues, and yes — pizza parties.

They are formally called “Slice of History” pizza parties, and they are being hosted by local organizations in over 30 locations across the country this summer. 

“We all know it’s important to understand power, how our country works, and how it was shaped. But so much of civics education — especially for young adults — is either nonexistent, is too ‘eat your vegetables,’ or leaves young people out of decision making,” Nia Mosby, head of programs at Civic Season, told Good Good Good.

“We think people are more likely to learn and act when they feel a sense of belonging and empowerment, so we create opportunities for young people to lead.”

To make civic engagement a little more mouth-watering, the group of young people teamed up with Pizza to the Polls to entice those who are hungry for change. Partnering host sites have also been invited to put their own spin on the event, zeroing in on different issues and subjects.

On a table, a myriad of open pizza boxes sit next to each other. In front of them, a sign reads "Pizza provided by: Pizza to the Polls."
Photo courtesy of Made By Us

For instance, the White House Historical Association in DC is hosting a party that features trivia. The University of Michigan Museum of art is incorporating bingo with their pizza party. And the USS Constitution Museum in Boston is even creating a themed mini golf course to attract attendees.

With many members of Gen Z feeling disillusioned about the democratic process, playful events and educational concepts aren’t frivolous — they are a strategy to capture the energy needed to organize for a brighter future.

“For Gen Z to take the reins of adult citizenship, they need credible and nonpartisan resources — like those provided by history museums and civics organizations — to be able to make up their own minds amid all the noise that exists online,” Katz said.

“Civic Season is one of the few places you can find credible information, about relevant topics, in appealing formats that are designed by and for younger people’s civic journey.”

A young woman with light skin and brunette hair smiles while holding a slice of pizza. She wears brown glasses and an orange cordoroy shirt
Photo courtesy of Made By Us

Mosby said the “national program with local impact” is designed to work “for communities of all shapes and sizes, no matter what or how they’re celebrating.”

After all, celebrating American history is not one-size-fits-all.

“Civic Season unites our oldest federal holiday, July 4th, and our newest federal holiday, Juneteenth, for a reason. July 4th represents the creation of our nation’s ideals: freedom, equality, justice, and opportunity, while Juneteenth reminds us of our ongoing journey to bring those ideals to life,” Katz explained.

“Though we are optimistic about our democracy, we also recognize that our American story is more complex than fireworks and hot dogs.”

By making the nuanced conversations about politics more approachable, organizers hope that Gen Z — a group that now boasts 41 million eligible voters — feels compelled to act this election cycle.

A sign reads: "I stand for building a better future when I learn from the past."
Photo courtesy of Made By Us

In addition to IRL activations, Civic Season has a “Know Your Superpower” quiz that helps interested young voters “create an itinerary” of events and tap into their organizing skills. 

On the organization’s website, folks can also find a virtual exhibit about a Japanese American family’s experience when they were incarcerated during World War II or a conversation at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello about today’s struggle for racial equality

“As we were developing Civic Season, we definitely did not want to shy away from the challenges our country has faced in the past and the new challenges that the next generation is facing now,” Katz said.

“It’s all about making space for difficult conversations and navigating the complexity of pride, aspiration, and reckoning all together — so we can build a better future. In other words, we can’t hate our country into being better. Urgent times like this call for urgent, inspiring action; not doom-scrolling and inattention.”

Header image courtesy of Made By Us

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