How Four Grassroots Groups are Building Power in Their Communities
About Us: Progressive Turnout Project is the largest voter contact organization in the country, specifically dedicated to mobilizing the Democratic Party and defending democracy. Our mission: rally Democrats to vote.
As part of our roadmap to success for the 2022 election, we committed to a new initiative to expand voter contact — providing early funding to grassroots organizations across the country with individual grants of up to $250,000. This Turnout Grants program complements our existing programming while supporting additional research and building capacity for direct voter contact.
They include groups:
- providing language-accessible materials to Asian-American voters
- recruiting Matriarch Organizers on Tribal lands in Arizona, and
- organizing rural voters with in-depth, authentic conversations.
Last month, we had the pleasure of introducing our supporters to four of our Turnout Grantees — as well as our special guests, Nevada State Assemblywoman and Fellows Advisory Board member Cecelia González, and Lt. Governor of Wisconsin and our endorsed Senate candidate Mandela Barnes — during our call highlighting these hard-working community leaders who are working to increase Democratic turnout.
The discussion was centered around the strategies our grantees are testing to connect with Democrats in meaningful ways. On the call, our panelists discussed cultural barriers to voting, and how grassroots organizers can help voters overcome them.
For the full scoop on what you missed, we have the full recording available here.
The guests featured in this webinar were:
Mohan Seshadri with Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance
This Turnout Grant will support the creation and testing of a first-of-its-kind Language Access Center for API PA, committed to making voting accessible by connecting with Pennsylvania voters in over 15 languages.
Mohan, on the importance of language accessibility:
“The first question on all of our scripts, no matter what we do, is what language do you want to have this conversation in. And we offer 15 languages to make sure that folks know that we care enough about earning their vote to meet them where they’re at in the language they’re most comfortable in.”
Missa Foy and Lorraine Coin with Northeast Arizona Native Democrats / Navajo County Democrats
Northeast Arizona Native Democrats’ Turnout Grant will support the Family Votes program — in particular, Matriarch Organizing, to recruit and train 100 Matriarchs from Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and surrounding Tribal Nations in voter outreach.
Missa, on voter empowerment:
“We knew in 2020 that the key to winning the elections in the state of Arizona were matriarchs on sovereign land. We really focus on having women help sign up their entire families to vote by mail. In one of the counties that we served we saw a 300 percent increase in mail-in ballots in the communities that we were calling in to. We let folks know that if the current situation they were in was unacceptable to them, their vote was their power to make changes.”
Cassie Charles and Erika Castro with PLAN Action
This Turnout Grant will support PLAN Action’s Rural Organizing Weekends in three counties that have historically been left out of the Nevada political landscape.
Cassie, on relationship building:
“At Plan Action we know that when it comes to relationship building, especially in communities that we’re reaching out to for the first time, what matters most is consistency and authenticity. We know that when we’re talking to people in rural areas of our state, we need to have the ability to follow up with them and create that relationship post that one door-knock that one phone call. We need to have the infrastructure in place to follow up on those commitments, on those relationships.”
Cynthia Wallace with New Rural Project
New Rural Project’s Turnout Grant will support their outreach work in seven rural counties, in particular their work with Native Lumbee and Black voters in Robeson County.
Cynthia, on the importance of consistency:
We let the communities know that we care about them beyond a vote. Similar to PLAN Action, our organization knows that that work doesn’t start or end three months before an election. It means that you’re in a community every single day 365 days a year. It begins and ends with listening.
Cecelia González, Nevada State Assemblywoman
Cecelia González serves as a Nevada State Assemblywoman. She is a Thai-Mexican American, daughter of immigrants, and native Nevadan, who has dedicated her life to being a public servant for over a decade.
Assemblywoman González on her start as an organizer:
I started as a community organizer. [Working with] PLAN Action was actually the first time I ever went to the state capital. So for me, I feel that it was really the experiences with these grassroots organizations that motivated me, inspired me, and propelled me to run for office.
Mandela Barnes, Lt. Governor of Wisconsin
Lt. Governor Barnes serves as Wisconsin’s 45th Lieutenant Governor. He is the first African American to serve as a Lieutenant Governor in Wisconsin, and the second African American to ever hold statewide office.
Lt. Gov. Barnes on his start as an organizer:
I was working around issues that didn’t get the attention they deserve from our elected leaders and I thought to myself, well this is a job I felt I could do better. I had the choice to either get mad or get elected. So I ran and I won with a broad base of support from people from all over, all different communities across the district and city. I’ve continued to grow those relationships which has gotten me to where I am today.