Q: Why was Rise to Run created?
Rise to Run was born because the makeup of our government — at all levels — does not adequately represent the women who make up the majority of Americans. In fact, women hold only 17 percent of the more than 500,000 elected positions in the United States.
That’s why we’re creating a pipeline of progressive girls and young women who are mobilized, trained, supported, and excited about running for office. A recent study of high school and college students found that only 19 percent had any interest in running for office. That’s probably because the whole process is pretty damn daunting. From economic barriers to racial divides to an overall lack of inclusion of women from many different identities, electoral politics still presents many structural hurdles that make the process inaccessible for young women.
Rise to Run will help remove these obstacles and begin filling the pipeline with an army of women — “Risers” — who are ready to run for office or work on political campaigns. We believe if we can organize communities of young progressive women, build power at a local level, and get women into elected office as soon as they’re ready, we’ll build a better, stronger, more inclusive country. A country represented by people who actually look like us and who have actually lived our experiences.
Q: Aren’t people doing this already? What makes Rise to Run different?
A: There are many organizations that do candidate training — and we think that’s great! We want to complement the work these groups already do and, ultimately, strengthen the effort to get women elected through new tactics and new people. Here are just a few ways we stand out:
We’re progressive: Many other groups that do this work are non-partisan. We are fiercely and unapologetically progressive and looking to train women who feel the same. People at all levels of our organization, including our Risers, are seriously committed to upholding and promoting progressive values that uplift the voices and identities of many communities. This is especially important in the wake of a presidential election that has threatened so many of our core values.
We’re on the ground: Rise to Run is taking a boots-on-the ground approach to get young women to run for office by creating a grassroots network that starts by building a community and includes training and an alumnae network. Some groups that train women for office exist exclusively online, but a community-based strategy gives our Risers a network of like-minded peers and mentors they trust to help them to enter public office – from campaign manager to city council member to Congresswoman. We want girls and young women on the ground to be able to go to their peers for support and to our Trailblazers for advice.
We’re here for the next generation: Other groups are geared toward women (and often men) of all ages. Rise to Run is laser focused on uplifting progressive girls and young women. We believe the best way to bring sweeping change to the electoral landscape is for our representatives reflect the vibrant communities that make up America. That means providing this age group with the right resources, trainings, and allies when they run for office.
Q: What is the Rise to Run structure? What does it mean to be a national, grassroots organization?
Our current staff is made up of volunteers who help develop the national direction and structure of Rise to Run and provide support and resources for the grassroots, community-based Hubs.
At the core of our organization are our Risers: girls and young women on the ground who belong to local Rise to Run Hubs. Hubs are community or campus based groups led by progressive high school girls or college-aged women. They meet regularly and set their own agenda for civic engagement and learning by hosting speakers, attending public meetings, lobbying on progressive issues, planning or participating in events with ally groups — all while building a community and a support network.
The Hubs are supported by the national team and a local coordinator or advisory council. Hub members are invited and encouraged to participate in Rise to Run’s in-person training to prepare them to run for elected office at all levels and to have careers as key campaign staff. Graduates of Rise to Run trainings become part of an alumnae network with mentors and other opportunities.
We also have an amazing cohort of women advising us in every aspect of the organization — from messaging to geographic priority to partnership development.
National Advisory Board: These women and men provide strategic advice and vision for Rise to Run. They represent a diverse set of experiences and come from industries inside and outside of politics.
Trailblazers: These women are former or current candidates,, and former or current elected officials who are leaders in their communities and embody our mission statement and values system. They serve as ongoing inspiration for the young women joining our Hubs and participating in our trainings. Trailblazers demonstrate that women of all different backgrounds, identities, abilities, and faiths can and should run for office.
Q: What does the Rise to Run Training program look like?
A: Rise to Run will offer high-quality, age-appropriate training that prepares Risers to run for office at every level of government and in every region of the country, or to fill high-level campaign staff positions. The training will reflect our commitment to progressive values, diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality.
Even before formal training begins, Rise to Run provides Risers with basic strategies and tools for understanding the electoral and political process, as well as a primer on the feminist movement and historical barriers to women’s engagement in electoral politics.
Candidate training covers the practical mechanics of conducting and winning a progressive campaign. Topics will include overall strategy and planning, messaging, media, communications, public speaking, fundraising, budgeting, field operations, endorsements, networking, technology, as well as legal, ethical and select policy issues.
Campaign staff training will teach the practical skills for managing a winning progressive campaign. Topics will include: overall strategy and planning, messaging, earned and paid media, fundraising, budgeting, endorsements, partnerships, technology, targeting, field operations with direct voter contact, and legal issues.
Q: Who are you working with?
A: We’re working informally with many groups in the progressive and electoral politics space. We have so much respect and appreciation for the organizations already helping uplift women and ready them for politics. As we continue to build out our organization, we’ll begin to form more formal partnerships. There is so much work to do to create a government at all levels that actually represents women of all identities and we know the best way to do that is to work together. Let’s get started!