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What is Outspoken?

The Tribune launched Outspoken, a special grant-funded project, as a way to amplify the voices of young San Luis Obispo County voters during the November 2020 election.

So often, we hear that local city council or government meetings are dominated by the concerns of older residents, who tend to be more engaged in local governance. Outspoken aims to change that, by increasing awareness of issues of major concern for younger voters in the region and pushing those to the forefront of the conversation. Through the project, we hope to increase turnout among millennial and Gen Z voters and help them become more engaged in their local governments.

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How we reported this story

SLO Tribune reporters Cassandra Garibay and Kaytlyn Leslie began working on the Outspoken project along with former Tribune reporter Monica Vaughan in March, just before the first positive case of coronavirus in San Luis Obispo County was reported.

The project is possible thanks to a grant and support from Renewing Democracy, an initiative of the Solutions Journalism Network.

In April, Garibay, Leslie and Vaughan conducted a virtual listening session with local stakeholders to gather preliminary direction on what issues might be of concern to young voters in the county, and how best to perform outreach to gather more information.

With the onset of the pandemic and Vaughan’s move from The Tribune to Fresnoland, a reporting and engagement lab with the Fresno Bee, the project was briefly put on hold as the newsroom pivoted to covering coronavirus in the community.

In July a Google Form survey was sent out to those initial stakeholders and shared on social media and The Tribune’s website. Between July 7 and Aug. 13, The Tribune received 209 unique responses to the survey. The responses spanned almost all of San Luis Obispo County, from Nipomo to San Miguel, and covered a broad range of issues.

In early September, Garibay and Leslie began examining the results from the survey to condense into a citizens’ agenda that would present the top issues for young SLO County voters. The five topics presented in this agenda were the issues the most respondents in the survey indicated they were interested in hearing more about from candidates this election.

Reporting based off of these findings is currently underway. To contact either Leslie or Garibay regarding the project, you can email them at or

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This story was originally published August 4, 2020 5:30 PM.

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