2021 With State Voices
The work we've done in 2021—and every year—is guided by a simple mission: using civic tech and innovation, people-powered campaigns, and leadership and capacity building to collectively create a multiracial democracy that allows everyone to thrive and live in their full dignity.
2021 has been a year of both challenge and triumph. We’re struggling with public health globally as the COVID pandemic continues its course. We’ve seen countless brazen attempts to further entrench voter suppression across the country. We’ve seen loss, but we’ve also seen resilience, creativity, and deepened commitments to freedom.
We see this in the work of our Affiliated Network of State Tables.
State Tables have been working in coalition to push for increased resources to our communities. The Nebraska Civic Engagement Table joined the Raise the Wage Nebraska Coalition to advocate for raising the state minimum wage to $15/hour by 2026.
State Tables are bringing marginalized communities together to advocate for their needs, including around redistricting. In November, Pennsylvania Voice presented proposed redistricting maps informed by more than 700 community drawn maps. Salem Ogunmefun, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Voice, shared that “No one knows their lives, no one knows the boundaries of their communities better than the actual community members.”
State Tables are fighting for the Freedom to Vote and encouraging civic participation. In Cleveland, Ohio, voters passed a municipal ballot initiative to strengthen civilian oversight over police. Virginia expanded early voting access that resulted in higher turnout than the previous two decades of gubernatorial elections.
State Voices works hard to support the incredible work of State Tables and their partners. Learn more about what State Voices departments accomplished this year to support people-powered campaigns and the fight for healthy democracy!
Data & Technology Department
- Democratizing data is the core of our department. Through our Data Certification Program, we provide training for field, program, and data staff, and other organizers to grow in their ability to use data and digital tools to foster positive change in their communities. We ran our first ever Data Certification Program Digital Organizing Track and raised funds through our Data Certification Program for the first time since its inception in 2017!
- We continue to provide State Tables and their partners with cutting-edge civic tech innovation. We doubled the organizations using our Switchboard Texting Platform, and our platform now supports 12 State Tables with engaging their communities around civic participation via text.
- We recognize texting is one of the best ways for our movement to engage with our people. We played a leading role in the Coalition for Open Messaging, a coalition formed to call on the wireless carrier industry to halt the implementation of harmful texting rules and work with impacted stakeholders to agree on solutions that ensure we can send person-to-person civic messages. We're leading the development of 2022 best practices for texting that we share with our coalition partners.
State Capacity Building Department
- It takes a village to build political power, and the collective power of State Tables and their on-the-ground partners are the heart of all of our work. In 2021, the State Capacity Building Department grew to make sure we are in service to the states. We brought on our new Co-Directors, Tierra Ragland and Zack Burgin. Michaela Brown was promoted to Deputy Director of Training, and we've recently hired a State Capacity Manager!
- We also organized the first ever virtual convening for State Voices. We had nearly 450 attendees, raised over $110,000 in sponsorships, and had participation from every state in our network, with each state having multiple partners join on Day 3. In total, we had 51 different speakers and facilitators covering topics ranging from Self-Care to Relational Organizing and so much more.
- 2021 also brought the launch of Project Power Up, our capacity-grant program that distributed more than $1M to our State Tables with a focus on building and growing their internal fundraising and communications capacity! In total, 19 states participated in the program with nearly all of them receiving multi-year funding commitments, a first for our organization!
- Achieving a healthy democracy where we can all participate will take multiple tactics, including community districting. We played a leading role in redistricting education and advocacy support through the Coalition Hub Advancing Redistricting & Grassroots Engagement, including facilitating training sessions, toolkits, and guidance for organizers and advocates on the ground.
- Centering the voices, votes, and experiences of marginalized people is the path to democracy, and it's crucial that our right to vote is protected. We completed our Election Protection Assessment to help ensure states get the support they need to run successful EP programs built from the ground up. We also continued to provide direct support to states, including research and technical assistance for legislative and other policy advocacy around voting rights and opportunities to get involved in federal democracy advocacy.
- Texting is the safest way to reach everyday people in the U.S., especially when it comes to civic participation. It's critical we protect our movements' ability to text. We serve on the steering committee for the Coalition for Open Messaging, and helped craft guidance for the State Voices network, talking points for engaging with elected officials and the FCC, and legal strategy for negotiating with wireless carriers for better policies.
Strategic Partnerships Department
- The Strategic Partnerships Department aims to help grow the movement for healthy democracy and BIPOC political power through deep collaboration. We're leading the effort to expand the State Voices Affiliated Network with the inclusion of two new State Tables starting in 2022. We'll make the official announcement soon!
- We ensure State Voices is providing support to organizations not just at our State Tables, but across all fifty states. We manage the State Voices VAN access for 126 civic engagement nonprofit organizations with 5,102 users. Our team administered the data and provided technical support and training to enhance the non-partisan electoral programs, public education and organizing efforts of those organizations.
- The Data Certification Program: VAN is a means to increase the data skills, particularly among women and persons of color, in the organizations that we partner with. In 2021, the program graduated 220 individuals and our department assisted with the Learning Management System used for the program and staffed office hours.
- To center the leadership, voices, and votes of marginalized people, it's critical that we are able to move resources to organizations and coalitions fighting for BIPOC political power. To help us do this in 2022, the Development Department has expanded to six staff! This includes more capacity for frontline fundraising (June Angole), grants administration (Alyssa Montchal), and new dedicated capacity for individual giving (Walter Castaneda). Our new full team of six is 5/6 women, 4/6 BIPOC, and one of the only fundraising teams in the 501c3 space led by a woman of color! Our people are our power.
- Our department launched our first known formal sponsorships fundraising campaign at State Voices, securing $110,500 in unplanned funds from 17 sponsors including TWO Visionary Sponsors ($25K), ActBlue Charities and Catalist!
- We held three funder briefings and strategic discussions including our 2020 post-election debrief, democratizing data, and building new Election Protection infrastructure from the ground-up.
- The Communications Department envisions a community of storytellers using our voices for power and mobilizing others to do the same. In 2021, we coordinated with the State Capacity Building Department to make strategic investments in staff capacity, training, and thought partnership at our State Tables via Project Power Up. Seven State Tables are participating to hire new communications staff with our funding and training support!
- We recognize the need for continued narrative shifting in civic engagement and electoral work. We developed message guidance for our network that moves beyond vote shaming and beyond a focus on winners and losers of any particular race or legislative outcome, and towards a frame of integrated civic engagement that specifically makes note of people's material realities and our ability to change them through action.
- We also led the communications strategy for the Coalition for Open Messaging, including a panel featuring Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and the planning and execution of an Axios web and app ad that had 1,291,205 impressions and a 0.34% click through rate, which is well over Axios’s 0.16% benchmark for web and app takeovers.
As we close 2021 and head into 2022, we will continue to center the power and needs of people on the ground making change with their communities. 2022 will bring midterm elections and legislative opportunities to advance the protection of voting rights. By centering the leadership, experiences, voices, and votes of marginalized people, we can chart our path to power and a healthy democracy.
Thank you to everyone who supports the State Voices Affiliated Network and the effort to build BIPOC political power!
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