A Data-Driven Future

February 25, 2016
Earlier this month, 56 organizers from across the country gathered in Baltimore for Data BootCamp – a six-day intensive training designed to further the skills of those working in (or transitioning to) data-related positions that fuel progressive campaigns.
They came from a diversity of backgrounds and a variety of causes to unite around a common passion for data-driven strategy. Now, with new skills, expanded networks, and amplified passions, they are ready to take our movement to the next level.
Alex Sheldon, research analyst at the Movement Advancement Project attended Data BootCamp to boost the data skills she uses daily in her research work.
Alex’s early passion for social justice work was fanned by an internship with the Human Rights Campaign at the age of 17, leading her to volunteer with the Peace Corps after college where her work on an HIV awareness program relied on the important intersection of data and policy. 
“Whether measuring the effectiveness of our HIV awareness program in my small Peace Corps village in Dominica or assessing the health needs of young women in urban settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, I found that while data and the tools we use to analyze it may vary, the importance of data-driven strategy is universal.”
She went on to pursue a Master of Arts in International Human Rights at the University of Denver, and now, as a researcher with MAP, uses those same data-driven strategies to help propel LGBT inclusive policy. 

“To me, data is an integral part of the fight for social change. The progressive movement continues to expand and evolve, and we need the strategies that guide our movement to expand and evolve right along with it.”  
Like many of the other attendees, Alex spent the week building relationships as well as skills. “This training united a wide array of progressives with varied data skills from around the country and from around the social justice universe,” she explains. “The space that Wellstone created by bringing these people together was a powerful, potent world: we could spend all day talking about complex SQL codes and data collection ethics, only to eagerly spend all night talking about the social justice causes, campaigns, and the progressive values that unite our collective movement.”
Alex goes on to explain that the diversity of the trainers and coaches present in the room was important to the success of the group: “This meant that we were taught by people who looked like us, who represented us, who were dedicated to developing the skills of the newest progressive data lovers. We all have a place in this movement.”
“Now there are 56 more people in the progressive movement who are ready to utilize these new skills and eager to change the world with numbers.”
This month’s Data BootCamp is only the first of an important new body of work for Wellstone. As we continue the legacy of work begun by New Organizing Institute, you’ll see more of these movement technology trainings providing important skills for organizers and campaigns to fight for a world where we all do better.