Community organizations have incredible power to win change and move their communities to greater justice. Wellstone helps build the skills and leadership to make that happen, and Movement Building is one of our three key focus areas when it comes to making a real impact in people's lives.
Why This Work Matters
Wellstone was founded with the vision of a country that offers justice for all, and the need for greater justice, right now, is urgently clear. Our Movement Building work empowers organizers and organizational leaders with the tools needed to create real change in their communities.
We believe this work requires more than just inspiring leaders or teaching technical campaign skills. Ultimately, movement building exists to build power in communities that don’t have it. What that looks like is different for every community – it may be a social justice issue or a particular public policy, but it’s crucial that we combine democracy work along with civic engagement and capacity building. And, at the heart of it all, we’re doing it from a lens that advances social and racial justice.
Communities that don’t have power can’t win on a particular issue unless they build it, and they can’t build power unless the rules of the game are changed.
What We’re Doing
We’re building capacity within state-based, grassroots organizations, empowering them to move public policy in meaningful ways at state and local levels. We help them integrate traditional relational organizing with nonpartisan voter engagement and policy advocacy.
These organizations traditionally operate in isolation, with limited resources. We help to build relationships and bring together partners as part of a broader, collaborative progressive movement. We guide movement leaders to develop the theory, practice, and human capacity that will let them operate at a statewide scale and win real change on the critical issues of our time – racial, social, economic, and gender justice in particular.
Reclaiming Our Democracy: This work focuses on how justice is carried out through our traditional systems of American democracy, many of which are still weighted toward injustice. This includes fighting for fair and impartial courts, just voter registration laws, and equitable representation through redistricting. In 2015, we facilitated fair courts work in nine states, helping organizers in each state build the strategies and tools needed to fight for judicial independence.
Integrated Civic and Voter Engagement Programs: This work is about helping organizations think more strategically about how and why they engage with voters. It’s about integrating civic engagement with broader policy goals and building power in the community at the same time. In 2015, we trained folks at The New Florida Majority on civic engagement and helped them to build partnerships with other organizations. We also partnered with Make It Work for advanced leadership trainings with a gender justice lens.
Ballot Measure Initiatives: Through our long-time strategic partnership with Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC), Wellstone is working to help groups engage in ballot measure initiatives as a strategy to win change. Almost 130 people attended five online trainings for ballot measure work, with almost half attending additional in-person ballot measure strategy sessions.
- Youth and Movement Leadership Pathways: We are also developing intentional youth and movement leadership pathways – where young people can find their voice through activism, and their vocation in movement work. Our work in 2015 included three summits with Generation Progress (and almost 400 young people). We also partnered with Project Pericles and Generation Progress to train nearly 300 students on seven college campuses.
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