Our recent victories and ongoing campaigns build on years of policy achievements led by WFPower and our allies, but they only speak partially to the strides we have taken in recent years. Our timely and effective responses—taking advantage of opportunities presented by the crises we face—are another kind of victory. Making innovations, building effective tools, shaping narratives, growing our base, developing leaders, and building deeply aligned coalitions are all victories in and of themselves, but are also steps toward future policy wins. Some highlights include:
- Green New Deal Network: WFPower helped build and steer the massive Green New Deal Network, which we now co-lead with 14 allied organizations as part of the Coordinating Team. The Network brings together grassroots climate justice organizations, community organizations, labor unions, civic engagement groups, and big green organizations to build infrastructure, power, and alignment. Our expertise in issue advocacy, coalition building, legislative campaigning, and civic engagement, plus our deep trust among diverse partners, allowed us to facilitate early conversations and consensus-building that resulted in a formal and powerful network emerging. As part of the Network, we demonstrated the flexibility of our coalition by being nimble around the rapidly arising challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Network is a key vehicle through which WFPower will continue to organize and advocate federal systemic change.
- COVID-19 Response: Our Radical Education team responded to COVID-19 by creating online presentations walking people through the pandemic in a way that reveals the built-in frailties in our system and the failures of market ideology. We hosted mass education sessions on making sense of the crisis, customized for different audiences, including internal staff, funders, members of allied organizations (IfNotNow and SONG), and the public. Working with the Movement for Black Lives, we co-led education and advocacy efforts around housing justice. In partnership with our Green New Deal Network allies, we have lead efforts to shape the policy response to the pandemic through the People’s Bailout and THRIVE Agenda, tying together health mandates, racial justice, economic justice, and long-term resiliency under a cohesive narrative framework rooted in Green New Deal principles. A major role WFPower played is recruiting aligned leaders to sign onto and champion THRIVE. Another role included performing rigorous message development, testing, and polling to inform ourselves and our partners about the best way to communicate our values and demands.
- Election Defense: In recent electoral cycles, we have helped expand voter participation through nonpartisan turnout efforts that included vote-by-mail and early vote education; safety and de-escalation tactics at polling places; and music and dance programming to help make voting a safe, joyous experience. Our largest effort was Frontline Election Defenders, in partnership with the Movement for Black Lives and Rising Majority in the 2020 election cycle. This project trained over 8,000 volunteers in de-escalation tactics and in reporting instances of voter intimidation, harassment, and aggressive electioneering to election lawyers and voting rights organizations. Election Defenders tracked 630 incidents de-escalated with direct engagement, joy, and music in cities across the country, including in Detroit, MI; Surprise, AZ; Kenosha, WI; and Cobb County, GA. One of the largest localized efforts included defending over 100 polling stations in Philadelphia, PA, including providing water and PPE alongside live music and performances. Another was training over 100 volunteers in Madison, WI in partnership with Freedom Inc. to phone bank voters; provide music, food, and water at polling places; and hand out backpacks and school supplies to support young people.
- Joy to the Polls: Originally an initiative within our Election Defenders campaign, Joy to the Polls has spun off into a sizable program of its own. It has garnered immense attention, coordinating pop-up music concerts at polling places around the country to encourage voters to stay in line and set a positive tone around voting. This effort went viral in 2020, including a recording from Philadelphia that was seen by more than seven million people. Many artists and influencers made Joy to the Polls playlists, including Selena Gomez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Questlove, Spoon, the Foo Fighters, and even Barack Obama. The media took notice, with major coverage in outlets like CNN, The Guardian, Teen Vogue, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Resist Trump Tuesdays: In the aftermath of Trump’s victory, we saw an incredible groundswell of activist energy—much of it from people who had never before been activists—rising to the surface and in need of organizing and development. Seeking to have an immediate impact on governance as well as to organize activists and new leaders into our movement for the long term, we launched Resist Trump Tuesdays as a regular organizing and mobilizing vehicle to strategically respond at mass scale to the Trump administration’s latest monster-of-the-week. In partnership with movement allies across the country, we created toolkits and trainings, mobilized individuals, and launched sophisticated campaigns to oppose the administration at every juncture, including but not limited to the Tax March to put the spotlight on Trump’s hidden taxes; the healthcare battle to protect the Affordable Care Act; countering the rise of white nationalism, especially following the Charlottesville violence; fighting Trump’s tax scheme for the rich; protecting Dreamers as Trump escalated his assault on immigrant communities; and organizing against the “Infrastructure Week” privatization scam.
- 2020 Racial Justice Uprisings: As the Movement for Black Lives grew into the largest social movement in American history, the uprisings against police brutality shifted the civic, economic, and strategic reality in which we do our work and brought masses of previously unorganized people into progressive movement circles. Our job is to recognize any new openings that might advance our vision—and demonstrate the vision, flexibility, and competence to use them. Joining with Black Lives Matter activists, we called upon elected leaders to defund the police and invest in our communities. One key part of that effort was a series of reform-minded teach-ins hosted both nationally and in Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. As a leader within The Frontline, we helped accomplish the goal of electoralizing the energy of the uprisings, elevating Black power and influence in our democracy. That effort leaned heavily on our tech platforms—rapidly recruiting, training, and deploying thousands of volunteers and giving them the tools to reach millions of voters.