Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.07.18

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


DEMOCRACY CHAMPIONS - Are You Ready to Build Local Power?

We have a bold vision to create a grassroots army of Democracy Champions who will be inspired, motivated and empowered to take on strategically-targeted democracy campaigns across the country. The Democracy Initiative held a Democracy Champions train-the-trainer session for DI partner staff in Washington, D.C. Partners participating in this first training include American Postal Workers Union, Common Cause, Every Voice, LGBTQ Task Force, NAACP, and Working Families.

Our training program is an essential part of our priority campaigns to help build sustainable grassroots engagement on democracy. Is your organization ready to build local champions?  Email Getachew Kassa, to get started.


It was a great day on Saturday, March 3 for local DI partner advocates who joined together with others across the social justice movement to collect signatures for the CLEAN Missouri and RaiseUp Missouri ballot initiatives to bring a fair and transparent democracy to the state legislature and raise the minimum wage. Local members from Jobs with Justice, Sierra Club, and NAACP were among the roughly 60 people out on the streets across three cities – Jefferson City, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

Over the past few years we’ve seen the state legislature - influenced by big donors and lobbyists – pass laws to make it harder for Missourians to sue for discrimination. We’ve seen legislators deny workers the ability to organize and fight for a living wage by passing right to work. And we’ve seen legislators attack the most powerful tool everyday people have (our vote) by passing voter ID laws that make it harder for low income, seniors, and communities of color to have a say. All of these attacks on our democracy have had a direct impact on the ability to fight for the issues that matter in our communities – from a living wage, to healthy rivers, to accountable policing.

Change can happen. The moment is right to have our members to demand state legislators deliver on the promise of democracy by getting big money out and creating fair district maps. The CLEAN Missouri and RaiseUp Missouri campaigns are critical opportunities to advance a democracy that is for all people, not just wealthy and corporate interests.

The next opportunity to engage with the campaign will be on Saturday, March 17. To get involved, email Getachew Kassa at


Supporters for Promote the Vote hit the streets to gather signatures to make sure every eligible voter in Michigan has the chance to participate in democracy. More than 60 volunteers canvassed 12 sites on Saturday.

Here are the key ways DI Partners can help mobilize to win in Michigan:

  • Endorse the campaign. As issues groups, it's important to show why voting is key to moving the core issues we work on everyday. Once your organization endorses the campaign, we will follow up with you on your level of engagement.
  • Signature Gathering & Field Operations. The campaign is ramping up its outreach to communities across the state with 29 house parties (tonight) and signature collection Day of Action on March 3.  
  • Education Voters. We have the chance to engage with people on the ground and connect kitchen table issues with the ability to vote. Along with voter education, the DI will host Democracy Champions trainings to build a field of advocates for 2018 and beyond.
  • Participate in local meetings. For partners with state affiliates, the DI will coordinate in-state meetings to help build our movement for success and identify emerging leaders. The DI will align allies that can help support efforts on the ground and bring new people into the democracy movement.

To get involved, email Getachew Kassa at


EVERYBODY VOTES MARYLAND - Participation is "central to delivering on the promises of democracy"

The Democracy Initiative’s Communications Director, Michelle Whittaker, joined Damon Effingham from Common Cause Maryland, Natalie Tennant from the Brennan Center for Justice, Emily Scarr from Maryland PIRG, and other local and state advocates to support the Secure and Accessible Registration Act (SARA). SARA expands the ability of eligible voters to register through certain state agencies and have their information transferred securely to the Board of Elections. DI Executive Director Wendy fields provided written testimony on the need for reform:

As Americans, we believe democracy is for all, yet it has been a slow and sometimes painful and bloody process to expand access to all eligible voters. Removing barriers to participation and allowing citizens the freedom to participate as they choose are central to delivering on the promises of democracy. To achieve a reflective democracy – where the needs of the people are reflected in our budgets, our policies, and our programs – all eligible Marylanders must have the ability to register to vote.

Read full testimony

The DI is supporting efforts on the ground in Maryland to expand voting access along with increasing participation through public financing in Prince George’s County. To get involved, email Getachew Kassa at


Mobilizing & Collaboration

Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar.

Contact Michelle ( or Elana ( if you have questions.

2018 Calendar for Mobilizing Working Group Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST
RSVP to, cc:

Our bi-monthly 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 Meetings: March 7 and March 21

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: March 22

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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