connect Finalist / 2018
Women Lead L.A.: Activating Women to Collaborate, Lead, and Make Positive Change
Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.
VoteRunLead is an expert at building independent political power and grassroots movements at the local level. Through the LA2050 Activation Challenge, we aim to train at least 10,000 women by 2020 through online and in-person events, helping to motivate underrepresented leaders, and ultimately ushering at least 50 women to run for offices in L.A. County by 2020. Women not running will also catalyze positive change by voting, speaking out on issues, and organizing their communities.
Which of the connect metrics will your activation impact?
- Government responsiveness to residents’ needs
- Participation in neighborhood councils
- Voting rates
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?
- Advocate for policy
- Digital organizing or activism
- Trainings and/or in-person engagements
- Create new tools or technologies for greater civic/political engagement
- Increase participation in political processes
- Influence individual behavior
Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to connect?
A recent poll showed that LA is one of VoteRunLead’s “hotspots,” with a huge demand for our trainings coming from LA County. With relatively low voter turnout and a city council that is 77 percent men, LA is an ideal location to connect and engage through civic participation and women’s leadership training. VoteRunLead would be honored to help residents connect through our tried-and-true strategies:
In-Person Trainings and Engagements. Our signature training, called “Run As You Are,” is a six-point curriculum covering key ways for women to develop and execute their public leadership skills, including 1) Confidence & Qualifications; 2) Campaigns & Elections; 3) Government & Civic Literacy; 4) Practice & Feedback Cycles; 5) People & Networks; and 6) Reputation & Impact. Evaluations of these award-winning trainings show that women emerge with greater knowledge and confidence, committed to the path to lead.
Digital organizing and activism. VoteRunLead’s online trainings and workshops provide an opportunity for leaders to learn from anywhere, on their own schedules. In 2017, 6500+ views of our curriculum demonstrate that women are willing to partake in online experiences, and our social media network of nearly 20,000 individuals is active, engaged, and supportive.
Increasing participation in political processes. VoteRunLead targets women to run for office between now and 2020; specifically, those who are underrepresented: women of color, younger women, women with lower incomes – and they are eager to lead. Our data shows that our trainings are effective: In November 2017 elections, we had 49 women on the ballots across the country (a similar organization, 6x the size of VoteRunLead, had 55 women running). Nearly 70% of our candidates won their elections, including 70% of first-time candidates (statistics show that usually, first-timers win 10% of the time) and 39% were women of color. And, even if trainees don’t run, they vote.
Advocating for policy. Studies show women are more likely than men to pass a bill and work in a bipartisan manner. Our alumnae pass pay equity bills, bring long-ignored issues to the fore, and advocate for vulnerable populations. Nonpartisan VoteRunLead welcomes women of all backgrounds and beliefs, speaking to all parties and millennials who often claim no party affiliation.
VoteRunLead creates new tools and technologies for greater civic/political engagement. As mentioned above, VoteRunLead has an engaged online community and aims to expand online tools.
Influencing individual behavior. VoteRunLead’s message of empowerment and collaboration impacts women not only on a systemic level, but also on an individual one, which opens new doors in their everyday lives.
Through this work, VoteRunLead will deliver specifically on the LA2050 metric to increase participation in neighborhood councils, training and propelling women into office to create a more responsive governance that addresses residents’ needs.
How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to connect
Since its inception in 2014, VoteRunLead has maintained a population of trainees that is at least 60 percent women of color, with approximately 25 percent coming from lower-income households and 30 percent of our trainees starting their leadership trainings with us at age 35 or younger. No other leadership training organization for women is so diverse or so intent on finding and connecting the untapped, unheard voices that are so necessary to making our democracy an inclusive, effective one.
Moving forward, VoteRunLead will continue our commitment to diversity and inclusion, ensuring that the next waves of leaders are truly representative of the population. To do so, we will continue the strategies and tactics that have been so effective to date, partnering with like-minded organizations that focus on recruitment of diverse voices, such as Higher Heights, IGNITE, 9 to 5 Working Women, Gamma Phi Delta sorority, MomsRising.org, and more. We will also bring in additional partners to reach women from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and political affiliations, to bring the full perspectives and power of women leaders forward.
Additionally, creative partnerships with corporations such as WeWork, wherein space is donated for trainings and workshops, connect VoteRunLead to reach entrepreneurs, movers, and shakers in communities across the country.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.
Measuring success through the following goals and outcomes, VoteRunLead will:
VoteRunLead aims to tap into the potential of women in LA, across party lines, who are motivated to and ready to lead. By 2020 (during the grant term), the organization aims to:
Train 1,000 women in LA through in-person trainings and workshops;
Reach 9,000 women in LA through online experiences;
Propel at least 50 women to run for office in their communities, whether through elections on the school board, city council, etc. and through appointed positions;
Activate all women to step into their unique leadership roles in their communities, joining the ranks of motivated citizens who connect and improve their city and county; and
Propel women into public leadership so that representation reflects the actual population (currently, 51 percent of the U.S. is women; about 40 percent are women of color, but approximately 80 percent of government is led by men, and they are overwhelmingly white men).
We believe that our activation crosses over into the LEARN, PLAY, CREATE, and LIVE areas as well. Through VoteRunLead trainings, women are encouraged to articulate what they value and explore how they can realize those values in their communities. Thus, even if an alumna doesn’t run for office, she may take it upon herself to become an entrepreneur, engage with her child’s school, and/or advocate for green spaces and healthy environments.
Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?
In five years, VoteRunLead as an organization hopes to have trained more than 1.2 million women nationwide, with approximately 10,000 of them hailing from LA. We know this is possible, because the excitement and motivation are happening now, with no signs of slowing down. We cannot miss the opportunity to align our tools and training with the the enthusiasm women are showing through marches, protests, and social media movements! VoteRunLead has the expertise, the proven program, the team, and the model to activate the next wave of activated citizens.
Ilhan Omar is a great example of who we attract and what we do. VoteRunLead was founded in Minnesota and works regularly there to provide trainings. Omar is currently a MN State Representative, who trained with VoteRunLead for years, solving work/life challenges as we provided scholarships and child care–because we know that’s what it takes for women to be able to run. With training, personal meetings with our experts, and our nationwide support network, Omar has become a nationally recognized leader, the first Somali-American legislator, and a trainer for VoteRunLead. We’re shifting the story that women cannot or should not lead, and making it possible for women to do so en masse. We would love to create this kind of success in LA.
VoteRunLead is fortunate to have a growing media presence, supported by an active network of trainees, alumnae, and experts who live our message of empowerment and inclusivity. These women sit on school boards and in state houses across America, are racially and ethnically diverse, and come from both rural and urban areas. Recent media coverage includes:
The aforementioned alumna Ilhan Omar, a former refugee, Muslim, and mother of three was profiled in Time magazine’s “Firsts” series. She was also featured by NPR, BBC, and NBC (all searchable online);
VoteRunLead was recently featured in ABC’s Nightline; and
Politico is talking about how VoteRunLead trainees are changing the game.
Your support is critical in ensuring our success. We are nimble and tech-savvy, well-known for the racial and ethnic diversity of our leaders and alumnae. We have a proven curriculum, a track record of significant “wins,” a network of powerful individuals and partnerships, and an engaged, diverse group of 10,000+ new women ready to vote, run, and lead. We are eager to make a seismic impact on the political practice and policies in LA, to include all voices and create equal opportunity. Yet we need innovative opportunities such as LA2050 in order to make this happen.
This is not a moment, it’s a movement. It leads the way for generations of women and girls who will be civically minded and politically active, and this movement includes all of us. We are ready to activate LA!