Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 01.17.18

Thursday, January 18, 2018


The Let NY Vote Coalition is making significant progress in building public support for early voting and other election reforms in New York. Governor Cuomo released his Executive Budget which includes Early Voting – a big first step for advocates - but leaves the onus on counties to implement and fund. We need make sure funding is included at the state level.

The Senate and Assembly will begin the work on the budget and they need to hear from members about why voting matters! Use the sample email and social media posts to share with your networks. Contact Jonah Minkoff-Zern ( if you would like to mobilize your members to participate in the upcoming rally and lobby day in Albany on January 23, 2018.

Visit for more information.

MLK Partner Highlights

Dr. King recognized the intersectionality between economic, social, and racial justice and the fight for democracy. In honor of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the Democracy Initiative joined 800 social justice professionals, activists, and community leaders in Houston for the AFL-CIO Civil and Human Rights Conference, Reclaim Our Dream. Participants engaged in community town halls, a day of community service, workshops, and political training boot camps. DI Senior Campaigner Getachew Kassa was a panelist for the workshop entitled “My Vote Is Not For Sale,” engaging community leaders on the connection between the right to vote and political action that shifts power to everyday people and moves the kitchen table issues that matter most in their communities. Participants discussed ways to build political participation and increase engagement among their members, to take on and win democracy campaigns at the national, state and local level, and ways to break up silos and partner with progressive groups across a wide variety of issues.

Democracy Initiative partner National Action Network (NAN) hosted prominent elected officials and civil rights leaders at their annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast on Monday, January 15. The breakfast, held at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, honors the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Baxter Leach, one of the original 1968 sanitation strikers from Memphis AFSCME Local 1733.

The event was well attended and speakers included Rev. Al Sharpton (NAN founder and president), Martin Luther King III (eldest son of Dr. King), Randi Weingarten (American Federation of Teachers president), Tom Perez (Democratic National Committee chair), and several other elected officials and leaders. “It was an inspiring event,” said DI’s Outreach and Engagement Coordinator David Sanchez. “It helped illustrate fact the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought and died for equality and civil rights -- and 50 years after his death, we must continue to fight for those rights and inspire a generation new leaders to take the baton to ensure that Dr. King’s legacy is never forgotten.”


On January 21, 2018, Women’s March will gather in Las Vegas, Nevada for Women's March: Power to the Polls, an event that will launch a national voter registration tour one year after the historic Women’s March on Washington. This next stage of the movement will channel the energy and activism of the Women's March into tangible strategies and concrete wins in 2018.

The national voter registration tour will target swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values, and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office. The coordinated campaign will build upon Women’s March’s ongoing work uplifting the voices and campaigns of the nation’s most marginalized communities to create transformative social and political change.

“In Alabama, Black women delivered as they always do,” said Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the Women’s March. “In addition to being willing to follow and support Black women, we all must commit to fighting the systemic voter suppression laws that inhibit so many of our communities from voting.

Learn more about Women's March anniversary events at


DI Communications & Mobilization Intern

The Democracy Initiative is seeking a talented communications and mobilization intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the Director of Communications and Digital Media, the Communications Intern will assist with message development and implementation, social media engagement, and online mobilizations for our diverse issue partners. Read more and apply.

Michigan Time to Care Campaign Manager

MI Time to Care is a Michigan statewide ballot campaign endeavoring to ensure all workers have access to earned paid sick time, an essential policy for helping low-wage workers stay above water financially. Currently, 70% of low-wage workers do not have access to earned paid sick time to take care of themselves or their families when they are sick. This means that when they have to stay home they miss a day’s pay and risk losing their job. It also means that many people go to work sick, which is not only a public health hazard, particularly in the case that they work with children, the elderly, or in the food industry, but also that they cannot recover as quickly and therefore are less productive at work. We are operating a statewide ballot campaign to give voters the opportunity to weigh in on this issue and to make progress for Michigan workers. The campaign is currently in the signature gathering phase. Read full job description.

Mobilizing & Collaboration

Moving Democracy Campaigns Forward

As we discussed in the Annual Meeting, we all agreed to “amp” up our efforts in 2018. To make that a reality, please take a moment to fill out the engagement form to plug into 2018 campaigns and new opportunities. Your input will guide the resource and engagement decision-making process. CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT DEMOCRACY REFORM CAMPAIGN SURVEY

Thank you to all those you have already filled out the survey.

If you would like to fill out the survey with assistance, please contact Getachew Kassa at

2018 Calendar for Mobilizing Working Group Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST
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Our bi-weekly meetings focus on field strategy with groups working both at the national and state level so we can collaborate and move democracy reforms effectively. All DI Members are welcome. Email with any questions!

Next Meeting: January 24

DI Communications Working Group

Monthly on 4th Thursday of every month at 1pm

The communications working group is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.

RSVP to, cc:

Next Meetings: January 25, February 22, and March 22

Popular Education – Democracy Champions Train the Trainers Wanted: Train the Trainer

The DI’s “Democracy Champions” popular education program will launch in early 2018. We motivate, educate, and empower the membership of our partner organizations to support grassroots democracy campaigns to build power and advance our issues. We engage grassroots members around race and class in ways that build solidarity, reduce division, and make the link between kitchen table issues (healthcare, workers’ rights, and environmental issues) and democracy reforms (automatic voter registration, early voting, same day registration, vote by mail, and publicly financed small donor elections). Democracy Champions is a key component of building power locally. We are committed to align our popular education training with local and state campaigns.

There are three ways your organization can participate:

  • Train-the-trainer trainings for staff members/activists to become Democracy Champions trainers.
  • Host a Democracy Champion training
  • Alignment with existing membership education (aligning the Democracy Champions curriculum with an existing membership education program in your organization).

Ready to motivate, engage, and empower your members? Contact Getachew Kassa ( for more information.

Enviro Working Group

Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club held an initial meeting with environmental groups and some new DI partners prior to the start of the Annual Meeting. The meeting included Greenpeace USA, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, LCV, Friends of the Earth, Center for Environmental Health, Water Keeper Alliance, and Oil Change International. The group will hold their next meeting in January to identify and collaborate on one or two democracy campaigns as an environmental community.

If you would like to participate or have questions, please contact David Sanchez ( or Courtney Hight (

Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy or a conference? Email Michelle ( to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

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