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16 March, 2021

Paid fellowships bring innovation to grassroots groups

icon innovation,internships,Online training
Students For Justice  trains interns on innovative technology and apply it for nonprofit causes.

How can grassroots groups learn about new ways to have a bigger impact with less money? How can college students find paid internships, learn new skills and support causes they care about? How can donors have the most impact?

Students for Justice (SFJ) has a win-win-win solution that benefits nonprofits, donors and future progressive organizers. SFJ offers paid internships for college students to learn about affordable technology apps, apply them to meet the needs of grassroots groups, and train their staff on how to use them. Donations help train the next generation of organizers and bring affordable innovation to grassroots groups and campaigns.

This blog also features two free apps for creating videos and targeting along with video lessons in Spanish and English.

The challenge

A lack of funding and staffing prevents many groups from trying new and better ways to do things for less money. How can organizations get help with their current projects and become trained on new approaches at the same time, so they can make a bigger impact with less money?

How can nonprofits and advocacy groups adopt new approaches without disrupting their current projects? How can grassroots staff and volunteers learn about new and better ways to reach, persuade and mobilize voters? How can this skill transfer be done in a scalable manner and in different languages?

Additionally, the pandemic has reduced the number of meaningful internships opportunities for college students. How can future progressive organizers get paid to learn new apps, apply them and make contacts while still in college?

How can donations be stretched to help advocacy groups with current projects, improve productivity with new apps and get trained at the same time while also training the next generation of progressive organizers?

Students For Justice, The Democracy Labs train interns on apps to help nonprofits.

Students For Justice

Students for Justice (SFJ) is a paid internship program that was developed in 2020 to engage college students in the struggle to fight systemic voter suppression in the United States and to get out the vote.  While it was created in response to the twin challenges of a pandemic and a national election, SFJ has developed a model that continues to be powerfully relevant.  SFJ brings young people, many of them first-generation college students, together from all around the country in a virtual program, offering them a meaningful, educational, paid work experience.   

Most interns’ work focuses on expanding the electorate through voter outreach targeting communities of color in voter suppression states and youth 18-24 nationally, in part through intern-designed social media campaigns.  In a pioneering collaboration with DemLabs, SFJ also places interns with grassroots nonprofit organizations engaged in voter empowerment to help them adopt efficient technological tools.  SFJ benefited in 2020 from a substantial one-time grant from the Open Society Foundation, allowing it to involve over 200 interns in its first three internship sessions, and is now seeking funding sources to allow it to continue to offer these meaningful paid internships.  SFJ is an initiative of the Center for Common Ground, a Virginia-based 501(c)(3).

Make the Road Nevada - Dignidad, Comunidad y Poder

Make the Road Nevada (MRNV) builds the power of Latinx and working-class communities of color to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, and transformative education. Their vision for Nevada begins with building a strong grassroots foundation in Las Vegas. It ends with elevating the power of working-class immigrant communities in every community around the state.

Tech empowerment for progressives

Make The Road Nevada (MTRN), like many other grassroots groups, needs to attract more supporters and donors. Melanie and Marcos, the two Students for Justice interns featured below, worked with MTRN to apply apps in order to target campaign efforts and created videos to share through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to expand MTRN's outreach. They used two free apps tested by DemLabs:

Statistical Atlas - Provides free detailed demographic data for all U.S. states specific to the county, district and tract level. 
Lumen5 - Create videos with royalty-free, professionally made video clips and soundtracks.

Melanie and Marcos recorded training videos in both Spanish and English to show Make The Road Nevada how to quickly create make videos for free with just a laptop and improve their targeting efforts. These training videos are freely available as well.

Melanie Ortega, a Student For Justice intern created this online course for Make The Road Nevada, on how to quickly create campaign videos with the free Lumen5 app.

Melanie Ortega is a first-generation Latina studying Anthropology a t Whittier College (CA). She created this course on how to create campaign videos with the free Lumen5 app.
Training: Spanish / English

Marcos Montana, a Student For Justice intern created this online course for Make The Road Nevada, on how to target campaign efforts with the free Statistical Atlas app.

Marcos Montana is a recent graduate of Grinnell College (IA) looking for ways to boost electoral participation. He created this course on how to target campaign efforts with the free Statistical Atlas app.
Training: Spanish / English

Building capacity to do more with less

Students for Justice  pays interns to help nonprofits do more withe better technology

Takeaway: Triple the impact of your donation by supporting groups that train future progressive organizers, while also helping advocacy groups make a bigger impact with less money.

Deepak
DemLabs

Image credit: Noun Project

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18 Mar’ 2021

How much will you get from the American Rescue Plan? Check this map.

Americans are feeling the benefits of public investment as they receive direct survival checks and tax credit expansions to keep food on the table and a...

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17 Mar’ 2021

Jim Crow lives here

Republican racists bills to suppress voting have been called "Jim Crow in a Suit". We mapped where Jim Crow breeds, groups like ALEC supporting, companies supporting...

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15 Mar’ 2021

Fact or fiction? Find out with Checkology.

Learn to separate fact from fiction. Use the free Checkology app to determine the credibility of what you're reading. "Lack of news literacy is a threat...

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13 Mar’ 2021

Jim Crow. Cat-In-The-Hat. COVID Stimulus Bill. The week’s top political cartoons.

‘Jim Crow in a suit and tie’: Outrage over Georgia’s new bills to restrict voting access. Bills would reduce weekend voting , end automatic registration, and...

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12 Mar’ 2021

Black Owned Media Matters

Media outlets serving immigrant and communities of color are under threat and deprived of resources needed to sustain their vital role. "Communities of color and immigrants...

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11 Mar’ 2021

Think different to persuade more people

Polarized voters. People trapped in information bubbles. Corporations making billions spreading disinformation in order to sell more ads. How do you get heard when calling and...

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9 Mar’ 2021

Zoom event production made easy

Presenters run over their allotted time, others drift off script, struggle with audience questions... How can virtual events be kept on track and presenters on script?...

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7 Mar’ 2021

How Senator Joe Manchin’s cuts to unemployment benefits will hurt his state of West Virginia

West Virginia is already the poorest state in the country. It'll be even poorer because of Senator Manchin's cuts to benefits in the American Rescue Plan....

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6 Mar’ 2021

Unemployment insurance. Domestic terrorism. Texas. The week’s top political cartoons.

Republicans gave billions in tax cuts to the wealthy but now vote against a living wage for workers. This week's top Political Cartoons capture the hypocrisy,...

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3 Mar’ 2021

When they go low with more voting restrictions, we expand free internet access so no voter is left behind

As Republicans introduce new Jim Crow style voting restrictions, it's vital to empower more eligible citizens to vote. Free internet access enables more people to learn...

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2 Mar’ 2021

Why do poor Americans get bad water? What’s race got to do with it?

Contaminated water is a health hazard for many Black, Hispanic and Native American communities. It is even more fatal with disasters such as the recent Texas...

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27 Feb’ 2021

Minimum wage. Filibuster. Cult followers. This week’s top cartoons.

Republicans give billions in tax cuts to wealthy donors but use the filibuster to deny working Americans a living wage. They gerrymander and deny the poor...

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22 Feb’ 2021

How to FOLLOW THE MONEY driving politicians

Money is the root of all evil. Especially in politics. Learn how to trace the money behind a political decisions. Who is donating? What do they...

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21 Feb’ 2021

For The People. Mapping how H.R. 1 fights voter suppression.

"We the People deserve a responsive, accountable government that gives us all a stronger voice and puts our needs ahead of special interests. Congress must pass...

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20 Feb’ 2021

Bickering. Conspiracy theories. Beach time. This week’s top ten political cartoons.

The top ten Political Cartoons this week showcase Republican bickering, conspiracy theories and beach time. Check out these cartoons in two new formats: as a GIF on GIPHY...

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19 Feb’ 2021

Make videos the easy way. Free app includes hundreds of royalty-free video clips and soundtracks.

Videos get six times more traction on Facebook! Learn how to quickly and easily create videos for free with Lumen5. We created a 25 second video...

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18 Feb’ 2021

Fighting disinfo? Coordinate a rapid response with shared talking points.

Disinfo requires a rapid, broad spread response. Get talking points to supporters for them to spread the truth and have their messages reinforce each other. A...

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15 Feb’ 2021

Listen to the experts. Subscribe to the Digital Politics Podcast.

Listen to weekly Digital Politics podcasts to stay abreast of innovations in political technology. Karen Jagoda has hosted the weekly Digital Politics Podcast since 2007. The podcast features...

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14 Feb’ 2021

Impeachment Illustrated — McConnell Edition

"He's guilty... but I'll acquit him". These Political Cartoons help understand Mitch.DeepakDemLabs Mitch McConnell acquits Trump (GIF) McConnell Acquits Trump (90 second Video) ACQUITTAL ON 5TH...

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13 Feb’ 2021

How well do you understand redistricting? Take this quiz.

Many states allow public input to make sure district maps are drawn fairly. Check your understanding with this online quiz? "Redistricting affects whether the nation’s diverse...

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11 Feb’ 2021

Reach more people. Caption and translate videos.

Reach the one in five Americans who do not speak English and others who prefer to watch videos on mute. Add captions and translations to your...

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10 Feb’ 2021

Guard against hackers. Reduce your digital footprint.

Reduce the amount of public information that hackers can find about you online to disrupt your work, harass you and steal confidential information. What can you...

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8 Feb’ 2021

Organizing resistance against Republican State Senators’ scheme to suppress Georgia voters

"Georgia Republicans have proposed a fresh round of measures to increase voter suppression and limit participation. Hiding under the guise of making sure “legal” votes count, Republican lawmakers want to eliminate...

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7 Feb’ 2021

Want to make your vote count? Learn how to draw redistricting maps.

All votes are equal. Some are just more equal than others. It all depends on how voting districts are drawn. And that's how some politicians get...

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6 Feb’ 2021

Double-talk. Denial. Stupidity. This week’s best political cartoons.

This week's top ten political cartoons lampoon Republican double-talk, denial and stupidity. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon" - Saul Alinsky “It is almost impossible to...

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2 Feb’ 2021

Fight negative media stereotypes

Media stereotypes perpetuate racism. Let’s tackle diversity and representation one photo at a time. Images influence our perception of people and issues, which over time solidify...

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16 Jan’ 2021

Political Cartoons Say It Best

No description necessary... Feeding The Fringe - Adam Zyglis Les Deplorables - R.J. Matson Butthurt Base - David Fitzsimmons Trump or the nation? - Bruce Plante...

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13 Jan’ 2021

Follow the corporate funding behind sedition and violence

"Millions of people had to be whipped into a frenzy over bogus charges of voter fraud and a critical mass of them had to be directed...

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11 Jan’ 2021

Fighting dark forces online? Focus on the tech vendors they need to spread hate.

Parler is being forced to change tech platforms after being ejected from Amazon AWS, Google Play Store and Apple App Store. How can tech firms be...

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10 Jan’ 2021

How YouTube makes money selling ads next to videos of the U.S. Capitol being attacked

A violent mob attacks the U.S. Capitol building and threatens elected officials. Who profits from video streaming the attack? Is it ethical to make money off...

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8 Jan’ 2021

Fed up of politicians inciting mob violence and sedition? Hold the companies funding their campaigns accountable.

“Armed violent protestors who support the baseless claim by outgoing president Trump that he somehow won an election that he overwhelmingly lost have stormed the U.S....

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6 Jan’ 2021

Trumpland? Meet the Republicans and their corporate donors trying to overturn election results.

"Eleven Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory ... to defy the unambiguous results of the...

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30 Dec’ 2020

Horse racing over COVID relief? Thank Mitch and Citizens United.

Horse racing is important to some. American lives matter to even more people. Why would a politician prioritize horses over people? Money, judges and voter suppression....

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28 Dec’ 2020

Redistricting: What to know now

Redistricting has been hijacked. Partisanship has increased. Political districts are supposed to be revised to to reflect population changes but instead they're being manipulated. Politicians in...

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27 Dec’ 2020

Relational organizing in action

"Relational organizing focuses on the most important tools at our disposal: our relationships and our ability to talk with one another about things that matter." -...

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22 Dec’ 2020

Voting early or using a drop box to vote in Georgia? Find your closest location with just two clicks.

You're about to vote early. Where's the closest location in your county? When is it open? How do you get there? Vote Georgia makes it easy...

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19 Dec’ 2020

See Something, Say Something. Georgia.

Voter suppression has evolved. The systems used to track and respond to it need to keep pace. How can voters be empowered to report incidents of...

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17 Dec’ 2020

GOTV Concerts organizes virtual concerts featuring Georgia musicians to get out the vote

Music can move people to action, but with COVID raging, online performances have replaced large concerts. Virtual events are tailored to local audiences. Turnout increases as...

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14 Dec’ 2020

How YouTube spreads COVID Disinformation

290,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19, yet people protest wearing masks and are skeptical of vaccinations. How does disinformation manipulate people into risky behavior? Who...

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9 Dec’ 2020

How BLUE FUTURE uses textbots to mobilize young voters in Georgia

Young voters are a key Georgia voting group with many voting for the first time! They prefer texting over calling. This demands frugal innovation so organizing...

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7 Dec’ 2020

Zoom performance anxiety? Follow these expert tips.

Perform better on Zoom with these expert tips. - How to prepare your script- Body Language- Using a teleprompter- Directing your attendees to take an action-...

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2 Dec’ 2020

How to spot BS being used to manipulate public opinion

Disinformation often comes as Bullshit (BS) packaged to trick readers with impressive language, graphics and bogus logic. Spot and push back with tips from Calling Bullshit. How...

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25 Nov’ 2020

Create online training with free, easy-to-use apps

Remote learning is urgently needed but creating training courses the traditional way is slow and expensive. How does a group with little money and few technical...

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24 Nov’ 2020

How to design smart route plans for canvassing, campaigns and non-profits.

How do you stretch limited time, money and workers to reach the most people? The problem comes in different forms: canvassing, delivering campaign supplies or giving...

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21 Nov’ 2020

How relational organizing helps Georgia voters learn about acceptable forms of voter ID

Voter ID laws prevent or intimidate millions of eligible Americans from casting their ballot. Obtaining an ID that fulfills voting requirements is costly and confusing. It...

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20 Nov’ 2020

Fundraising through ZOOM events made easy

ZOOM makes it easy to connect, but how do you get supporters to take the next step and donate? How can they do this while still...

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14 Nov’ 2020

Hit the road to mobilize rural Black voters in Georgia

Rural voters decide many elections. Organizers have to deal with remote communities, poor roads and sparse internet coverage to organize and mobilize them to vote. Reclaim...

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28 Oct’ 2020

Keep ’em honest. Photograph publicly displayed poll tapes of the vote count.

"Photograph poll tapes at the polling place on election night and check the vote totals against the official vote totals to catch erroneous election results." - Scrutineers...

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26 Oct’ 2020

Don’t even think about intimidating voters. State laws and penalties.

Federal law prohibits voter intimidation. The right of each voter to cast his or her ballot free from intimidation or coercion is the foundation of a...

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18 Oct’ 2020

Combat voter suppression. Data by the people, for the people to react quickly.

Spot and combat voter suppression. Get the facts quickly to the public, journalists, influencers, lawyers and voting rights groups. Information that has been screened, provided with...

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16 Oct’ 2020

Lincoln Project: See Something, Say Something!

With just under three weeks left until the November 3rd election and early voting well underway in many states, The Lincoln Project is today beginning to...

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4 Oct’ 2020

Searching for voter suppression incidents as they happen? Use these Twitter expert tips.

Analyzing tweets it is like drinking from a fire hydrant. New apps make it easier to analyze tweets to spot instances of voter suppression as they...

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3 Oct’ 2020

Take a bite out of vote counting crime: Track the poll tapes!

Image credit: DFS "POLL TAPES are printed vote results from voting machines that are transferred to a central tabulator. This process can be used to manipulate...

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1 Sep’ 2020

Train protesters to better ‘frame’ issues to cut through the lies and control the narrative.

"While this literal battle rages—with tear gassing militias on one side and kneeling protestors on the other—the rhetorical one does as well." - Race Class Narrative...

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19 Aug’ 2020

Save money. Do good. Crowdsource texting campaigns to low income American workers.

Campaigns save money with crowdsourced texting and help low-income American workers at the same time. A win-win solution. What is crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing matches online workers with...

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1 Jul’ 2020

David vs Goliath in Kalamazoo

Necessity is the mother of invention. A team of Kalamazoo candidates innovate to overcome their lack of resources. BackgroundThe candidates have little funding and few technical...

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21 Jun’ 2020

Scan this to recruit volunteers

How to recruit supporters during a pandemic: Recruiting supporters at an event is hard. Lot's of people, activity and little time. How can it be done...

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9 Jun’ 2020

Three Free Safety Apps For Protestors

Police violence and digital surveillance shouldn't be used to intimidate peaceful protestors. These free apps protect protestors exercising their First Amendment right to "assemble peaceably and...

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3 Jun’ 2020

NAACP Volunteers Use ‘Smart’ Texts To Reduce Lines At Georgia Voting Centers

Voters braving a pandemic, shouldn't have to struggle to find their closest polling location. It's easy for Georgia voters to get confused, and many end up not...

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21 May’ 2020

Organize Workers Forced To Re-Enter COVID-19 Infected Facilities

Workers pressured back to work in dangerous conditions have a tough choice: their paycheck or their lives? How can they organize for safe working conditions and fair wages in such a...

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6 May’ 2020

Who Lives? Who Dies?

Why do some black counties in Georgia have 20 times as many deaths as nearby white counties? What impact does voter suppression have on the healthcare provide to African...

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12 Apr’ 2020

Organize Gig Workers Digitally In A Pandemic

The pandemic has devastated gig workers. No unemployment insurance. No health insurance. Unsafe working conditions. How can gig workers organize to demand their rights when they...

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6 Apr’ 2020

Statewide Michigan Indivisible Rapid Response To GOP Demand That Jeopardizes Lawmaker’s Lives

Michigan Republicans insist legislators vote in-person in the middle of a pandemic! "The vote will come a day after it was announced that State Rep. Karen...

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17 Mar’ 2020

Coronavirus Guide. Mobile Training Delivered By Voice And Text.

Coronavirus safety training now available freely by phone. How can safety recommendations be shared with hard-to-contact groups in the middle of a pandemic? Technology designed to...

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5 Jan’ 2020

Podcast Training Retreat For Women Changemakers

[caption id="" align="aligncenter"] Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash[/caption]   Millions listen to podcasts but not enough are hosted and produced by women. How can we fix this?...

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30 Nov’ 2019

Five Free Online Training Platforms To Training Volunteers And Organizers.

How do you train volunteers and staff the skills to be better activists and organizers? Especially when a range of skills have to be taught from...

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6 Nov’ 2019

Online Training For Activists On How To Frame Issues To Build Support.

How do you get someone with very different beliefs to support your cause? Frame the discussion to align with their existing beliefs. Framing is an effective...

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16 Sep’ 2019

New Artificial Intelligence (AI) Powered App, Coaches You To Become A Better Public Speaker.

A very few of us are naturally, gifted public speakers. The rest of us need to practice. Technology can now coach activists, organizers and candidates to become better...

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29 Aug’ 2019

Personal Data: Political Persuasion. How Consumer Data Is Sold To Campaigns To Better Target Voters.

Collecting and selling personal data to businesses is a big industry. Political campaigns are increasingly using the same data.  Campaigns rely heavily on voter files for targeting. Many are...

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12 Aug’ 2019

Group Mounts Social Media Video Campaign To Block Redevelopment Of African-American Community.

Make the Road Nevada is fighting in solidarity with Windsor Park residents as the City of North Las Vegas is proposing to sell 80% of the land of...

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12 Aug’ 2019

Mobilizing Citizens To Prevent Cuts To The Food Stamp Program. Technology For A Rapid Response.

The Trump administration is planning to cut the Food Stamp program. This would eliminate SNAP benefits for 3.1 million individuals and take free school meals away from the children in...

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29 May’ 2019

Recording a video to shine a light on injustice? Do it right for maximum impact with these expert tips.

[caption id="attachment_1345" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Photo of Leisha Evans taken by Jonathan Bachman for Reuters from Wikipedia[/caption] A powerful image can tell a full story without a single word. Organizers, however, often...

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10 May’ 2019

Virginia Candidates Create Issue-Specific Campaign Videos With Free, Innovative App.

"There is an 80% increase in the time spent on watching videos ... 45% of the people surveyed in North America said they expect to watch even more videos on...

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3 May’ 2019

Up your game with this library of free campaigning and organizing ‘how to’ guides.

Grassroots organizing changes constantly with new tactics and apps. How can the lessons learned on one campaign be quickly shared with other progressive groups? Blueprints for Change converts know-how from campaign organiziners into free...

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1 Apr’ 2019

Midwest Academy Online strategic campaign training for Organizers.

The Midwest Academy has trained over 25,000 grassroots activists. Heather Booth founded the Academy in 1973 to train leaders fighting for social, economic and racial justice. It has played a...

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18 Feb’ 2019

Enough of old, male and pale. Let’s train more campaign staff of color.

[caption id="attachment_1113" align="aligncenter" width="394"] Genny Castillo & Ashley Robinson - Co-founders, The BLUE Institute.[/caption] “Lack of minority staffers threatens to hobble 2020 Democrats. If you don't...

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31 Jan’ 2019

8 Highly Effective Training Resources for Organizers

[caption id="attachment_1086" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash[/caption] "Change requires more than righteous anger. It requires a program and organizing, which is the only way to...

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16 Oct’ 2018

See something. Say something. Especially at polling centers.

"See something - Say something". We see this at airports and on public transportation. So why not do the same while we are trying to vote?...

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11 Sep’ 2018

Micro Target Your Canvassers

Uber does it. Lyft does it. Send drivers to where there's known demand - rather than going to the same old locations as many cabs do. It's...

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1 Jun’ 2018

Is your Voter ID acceptable?

11% of voting-age U.S. citizens don't have a current government-issued photo ID. That's roughly 25 million voters in 34 states who don't have an acceptable Voter...

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23 May’ 2018

It All Starts With Training

Training new campaign volunteers is hard. They're often remote, pressed for time and difficult to schedule. Online learning platforms are affordable and offer training on demand. Campaigns struggle to train volunteers as in-person training can't...

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17 May’ 2018

Knock. Knock. Who’s there?

FedEx does it. Uber does it - optimize delivery routes with better software.How can campaigns up their game so canvassers spend less time walking and more time talking with people? The...

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13 Oct’ 2017

Is Open Source the Transformative Solution for Activism?

Organizing public rallies really is rocket science. A successful launch needs careful planning and good software. Especially when highly vocal users are involved! How well does...

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5 Oct’ 2017

Resisting? Running for office? Get trained online, you will.

Darkness is in the air. The Rebel Alliance is hopelessly outmatched. The Empire terrorizes the galaxy. The rebels train to fight back. The ‘force’ is with...

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4 Oct’ 2017

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised — It’ll be Computerized

Imagine that you have millions of supporters eager to help your cause. You only have a few weeks to get organized and hardly any existing systems...

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