This feature appears in the April ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Most people tend to see a problem and expect someone else to do something to solve it.
Charlie Kirk is not “most people.”
The 23-year-old founder and executive director of Turning Point USA (tpusa.com), Kirk has taken on the daunting task of fighting the institutional leftism and liberal indoctrination running rampant on college campuses throughout the country. Born and raised in Chicago, Kirk started Turning Point USA when he was only 18, after he began to realize his generation was quickly letting our treasured American way of life slip away. Our college campuses are battle ground zero. And this organization is fighting back and making a big difference at that.
“I felt back in 2012 that our generation was willingly giving away our freedoms to the far radical left,” Kirk said in an exclusive interview with America’s 1st Freedom. “So I saw an opportunity to launch a
counter-political movement. We will have our five-year anniversary in June. I’ve really been pleased with the growth and success.”
Indeed, the growth has been quite impressive. Starting from scratch, Turning Point USA now has chapters on more than 1,100 college and high school campuses around the nation and 75 full-time field staff, making it the largest and fastest-growing youth organization in America. Turning Point’s mission statement is equally impressive: to identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.
Like many who are closely watching American society right now, Kirk considers runaway radical liberalism on our college campuses to be America’s gravest danger.
“Young people on college campuses are just inundated with leftist garbage,” he said. “That’s where a lot of our really radical ideas come from. And countering it is a massive challenge.
“I am, however, optimistic about the future of America. But it has to happen by fighting back on the campuses. I can’t emphasize that enough. They are taking minds for molding and completely misrepresenting … basic American values.”
With that goal in mind, Turning Point is engaging youngsters through a number of resources: coalitions, a speakers bureau, technology tutorials, partner resources and a number of fine publications. All are designed to engage students to fight runaway liberalism on their own campuses.
“We plan to continue getting bigger and better,” Kirk said. “Growing more chapters. Training more activists. Hosting bigger conferences. Making a bigger impact. We’re uniquely positioned to really make the positive impact.”
One of Kirk’s biggest projects—and the most critical, he feels—is the group’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit (YWLS), scheduled for June 15-18 this year in Dallas.
“It is specifically designed for young conservatives, young libertarians, young freedom lovers who are women,” he said. “We found that most of our stronger chapters and leaders were young women and thought, ‘What if we did a young women’s event?’ It’s something that really hasn’t existed in the movement.”
Two years ago, about 100 young women attended this program, aimed at building and reinforcing important values. Last year, attendance grew to about 400. This year, Kirk is expecting 750 to 1,000 young women at the event. Starting from scratch, Turning Point USA now has chapters on more than 1,100 college and high school campuses around the nation and 75 full-time field staff, making it the largest and fastest-growing youth organization in America.
One reason this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever is because the NRA has signed on as the headline sponsor.
“We’re really thankful for this great partner,” Kirk said. “The NRA is the leading charge for our freedoms. This partnership shows how important it is to build a strong movement. Our college campuses are battle ground zero. And this organization is fighting back and making a big difference at that.”
Kirk said the past summits have resulted in many young women having their values reinforced and learning how to share those values and fight for our country’s future.
“Hundreds of young women walked away with more energy and more motivation to make change possible,” he said. “This year’s summit will be even better.”
With that in mind, Kirk is asking all NRA members to tell a young woman in their life—whether daughter, granddaughter, niece or just a friend—about the YWLS, and strongly encourage them to attend.
“Take that leap of faith,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. This conference might change a young lady in your life.”
Kirk added that TPUSA offers a limited number of travel stipends for students who need financial assistance. To learn more about the summit or to apply to attend, go to tpusa.com/ywls. For more on Turning Point USA, visit tpusa.com.Mark Chesnut has been the editor of America’s 1st Freedom magazine for nearly 17 years and is an avid hunter, shooter and political observer.