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John McCarthy

The Advocate

John McCarthy

Executive Director
Future Civic Leaders

The Advocate


Before serving as the Executive Director of Future Civic Leaders, John McCarthy served as the organization’s Chief Financial Officer from 2009-2011. He has been actively involved in political campaigns on the national, state, and local levels.

Mr. McCarthy sits on the board of directors of several nonprofit organizations that focus on youth engagement in the political process, including the Young Americans for Diplomatic Leadership.

He is a frequent media resource and commentator on issues relating to young people in politics. Mr. McCarthy has been quoted or featured by: Fox and Friends, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Huffington Post Live, Canada TV, The Chronicle of Higher Education, TV Russia, Swiss Public Radio, and NPR.

Q &A with John McCarthy

What do you think the ACT Foundation can really do?

One of the most powerful things this organization can do is bring together key thought leaders and the people whom these policies actually affect. What makes the ACT Foundation so unique is that it plans to directly engage students from underserved populations and work with them, rather than solely on their behalf, to build a new learning economy that promotes greater economic mobility, community participation, and reinvigorates the American dream.

What are you passionate about? What really excites you about this journey with the ACT Foundation?

My greatest passion in life is giving young people the tools they need to actively participate in the political process. Young people are so often the subject of the decisions made in Washington. We constantly hear that decisions need to be made for our “children and grandchildren.” Yet, rarely are the young people themselves consulted in the process. Engaging young people gives them the ability to utilize the political system to make positive changes for themselves and their community.

Why is it important to focus on young, low-income working learners?

Young people from underserved communities are rarely an organization’s target audience. With limited financial resources, the rest of society often overlooks them. This has severe consequences not only for our economy, but for our entire social structure. Young people from underserved communities are systematically left out of the political equation. The ACT Foundation works to balance this by ensuring that all of these students have the ability to learn in a way that is conducive for them, making them more effective contributors to society at large.

What are some early insights about how the Aces Research Network can collaborate?

One of the most important values that is evident so far with the ACT Foundation is that it is working with rather than for. The diversity of the Aces Research Network is staggering: academics, economists, athletes, workforce leaders, etc. The only way to solve the incredibly diverse and complex problems facing young people today is to engage diverse and complex problem-solvers. One of the earliest ideas for collaboration would be looking at the actual structures that prevent young people from reaching their full potential.

How is the research different?

Bringing in young working learners throughout the process will be key to differentiating our research products and solutions. If they are consulted from the beginning to end, they will be able to translate the process back to the community they represent in a comfortable medium. Stakeholders will be best served from this as well, because it involves them directly in the community rather than simply as observers.

Where do you hope to have the most impact?

I believe that I can have the most impact having worked hands on with underserved communities and sharing insights from that process. Success for me will be benchmarked on how best I can articulate their voices and make sure they are included in the process.

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