Since launching Turning Point USA three years ago, Eagle Scout 21-year-old Charlie Kirk—an Eagle Scout who still lives in his mom’s house—has built an organization that has a presence on 800 college campuses and registered thousands of voters in 2012. Since January, Kirk’s non-profit has raised $1 million and it appears to only be gaining more momentum.
Gaining some notoriety in 2012 after he published an article on liberal bias in textbooks, which landed him an interview on Fox Business, Kirk began to raise money for what he envisioned would be a conservative version of MoveOn. org geared toward reaching young voters. Beginning with some start-up funds from millionaire investor Foster Friess, Kirk has been able to attract a number of key backers to create what Bloomberg describes as the “go-to group for reaching young conservatives."
Turning Point's mission statement outlines its key purposes:
- Educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets. With innovative messaging techniques and strategic outreach methods TPUSA is able to educate thousands of college students each day.
- Identify student activists in every corner of the country who believe in limited government and individual liberty. TPUSA activists are the community organizers of the right.
- Register students to vote. TPUSA has helped thousands of college students apply for voter registration and access vote-by-mail ballots.
- Empower young activists to get involved in the fight for free markets and limited government. Through building strong campus networks, organizing conferences and training workshops, and equipping activists with the knowledge and strategies needed to combat the left, TPUSA empowers young people to make a difference within their own campus and community.
- Organize young activists in chapters and networks on colleges across the country. TPUSA believes there is strength in organization, and our activists work tirelessly to build grassroots networks on every college campus in America.
- Mobilize students who believe in free markets. Email lists don’t mean anything if they aren’t used properly. TPUSA mobilizes its activist networks to get involved in activism, issue-advocacy, public policy education, and grassroots organization.
Turning Point takes an aggressive approach to reaching college students, using the left’s tactics against it, particularly through campus campaigns promoting conservative principles and ridiculing the left and big government. Featuring slogans like the popular Obama-mocking “LOL,” “Socialism: You Make It, They Take It,” and “Yes, We Can…Read Your Emails,” the group attends club fairs and other events, engaging students on issues like the national debt and government overreach and pointing students toward ways they can get involved in the conservative movement.
Turning Point’s paid employees are tasked with making 1,500 student contacts per semester. Perhaps surprisingly to many, the group reports enthusiastic response on many campuses. “People love our message,” said Stephanie Conway, the organization’s Texas field coordinator. “We’re giving them something to think about—like, hey, maybe government is too big, maybe we shouldn’t have this huge federal debt—that they probably haven’t ever heard before in a college setting.”
The organization has held a number of events, which have had around 20,000 attendees so far and have landed some big names on the right, including three presidential candidates: Sen Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina. Some upcoming events for the group include the Young Women’s Leadership Summit (June 14-15) and the Young Latino Leadership Summit (July 16-22).
Interview above via Fox News, August 2014.