During the Summer of 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic and protests around racial justice, the Walton Family Foundation embarked upon a study of what young Americans thought about their own futures: their prospects for success, what they want out of life, and what they fear will stand in their way.
At the conclusion of that work, a question remained: why, in the face of so many obstacles, do young Americans feel so optimistic about the future? Do they believe the world will change for the better, and if so, who do they think will drive that change? How do they think change will be made?
To better understand Generation Z and Millennials in their own words, this research effort surveyed a diverse and representative sample of 1,000 members of Generation Z (ages 13–23) and 1,000 Millennials (ages 24–39) across the United States. The survey was conducted January 12-22, 2021 and tracked the results of key questions from the Summer 2020 study as well as introduced new topics about who and what can effectively create change. This survey also covered key issues such as education, the environment, and the communities Millennials and Gen Zers hope to create.