Our focus is on developing infrastructure for the long term, so that the scale and scope of our victories is ever-widening, the capacity of our movements ever-growing, and the depth of grassroots leadership ever-sharpening.
Key to that is developing leaders who bring their passion, talents, and perspective into our campaigns and movements, as well as their capacity to activate and inspire their peers. WFPower takes a uniquely impactful approach to leadership development, teaching through the work we do. It’s one thing to teach skills to help our campaigns, another to teach people to see the world differently, and yet another to offer people an impactful community of practice—a community of both belonging and action, with a culture grounded in shared ideology (not just individual policy goals). We could teach ideology and history and even put people to work without providing a deep power analysis that allows them to campaign strategically. We could also recruit and train volunteers into our campaigns without giving them a deeper, shared understanding of the world and how all our issues are fundamentally interconnected. Neither would be sufficient. We see power analysis as necessary to developing a cadre of non-delusional leaders with not just an analysis of what is wrong, but also a clear-headed path to power to make things different. Our supporters and volunteers are never asked to do something if it doesn’t have a grounded power analysis behind it, and we share that explicitly. This means being honest about the limits of our power in a way that both helps get things done in the near term and inspires our supporters to imagine what could be possible if those limits were expanded long-term.
We believe that women of color and young people are essential to building people-powered movements and a leadership model that emphasizes participatory democracy. Therefore, we are investing in developing leadership skills with emphasis on youth and women of color through training, tools, and ongoing expert and peer support.
Leadership Development Programs
Our Freedom Corps program recruits 18-25 year-old activists for a full-time, 10-week paid fellowship program that provides an ideological foundation and develops core organizing skills through training modules and practical experience.
In 2019, Millennials passed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the US, and young people ages 18 to 35 will soon become America’s biggest voting bloc. Yet despite their potential influence, working class young people have few entry points and face many obstacles to full civic participation. Moreover, most see little reason to engage in the status quo establishment. Most young people do not feel represented in power and public life.
Freedom Corps addresses this need, offering a full-time fellowship for young people interested in economic and social justice who are ready to go all-in at this critical moment in history, if given the opportunity. The program’s four primary goals are to:
- Provide an ideological foundation grounded in a historical analysis of economic exploitation, patriarchy, and white supremacy; the systems which uphold these forces; and a longer-term vision for the society we deserve.
- Develop core organizing skills through training modules and on-the-ground experience.
- Prepare fellows to become local leaders capable of organizing peers in regional and virtual organizing hubs.
- Help attract young people to the fight for social change and build a more representative democracy by empowering womxn, people of color, and working class youth.
Our fellows have done impressive work while learning invaluable skills. Some former fellows have already been hired full-time as staff both at WFPower and in allied organizations, and others have become volunteer leaders in their communities.
Bet on Us:
BIPOC womxn are often critical to electoral victories and often take center stage in turnout operations—but the political establishment does little to invest in their power and leadership. Our Bet on Us program is disrupting that status quo.
Bet on Us seeks to invest in BIPOC womxn to:
- Become leaders who will bring an intersectional framework to the policy making process.
- Provide the proven training, tools, and resources needed to lead and win organizing campaigns.
- Increase the civic engagement of BIPOC women, transgender, and non-binary communities.
Bet on Us trainees move from thought-provoking discussions about the history of racial capitalism, to power mapping sessions, to practical distributed organizing tactics, and more. That is just the beginning, however. Bet on Us alums are invited into our Bet on Us Organizing Hubs program to base build in their local communities. This “organize your neighborhood” model proved especially effective in Georgia, where we ran large turnout operations. Alums are also invited into our virtual Bet on Us community space to share insights and opportunities.
Amid the pandemic, we proudly partnered with Re:power and Planned Parenthood to create a Bet on Us interactive online co-learning space.
Women Run Campaigns:
In order to disrupt our current racist and patriarchal systems, we need to change who holds the levers of power—and that means more than just developing women, transgender, and non-binary activists to run for office themselves. We know firsthand that when it comes to communicating a campaign’s values, making strategic decisions, and building a safer and more inclusive organizing environment for all volunteers and staff—decisions made by campaign senior staff can be just as important as those made by candidates themselves.
In 2018, inspired by former Working Families staffer Erica Sagrans’ article in Teen Vogue encouraging more women to become campaign managers, we launched a signup form for women who wanted campaign manager training and were blown away by the response—within a week, over 2,600 women had signed up. Women and non-binary staff at WFPower jumped to the cause and launched Women Run Campaigns, pulling off four trainings in four states that trained over 200 participants within months of launching the survey. Since then, the program has trained over 1,000 participants across NYC, Oregon, West Virginia, Connecticut, Iowa, Wisconsin, Georgia, South Carolina, and more.
Participants are invited into deeper community with fellow alums, including forums for sharing job and volunteer opportunities in campaign infrastructure. Likewise, many remain connected with our staff for ongoing support, ranging from campaign skills, to management practices, to job seeking support. We are proud to have seen dozens of campaigns hire Women Run Campaigns alums across the country.
Vets for the People:
As a nation and world today, we’re facing a hurricane of crises as a result of the politics of domination, greed, and violence at the hands of a wealthy few. In the US specifically, we are experiencing the “spiritual death” about which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us when outlining his three evils: systemic racism, economic exploitation, and unchecked corporate militarism. We can see this most clearly in our corrupt war economy, regressive national security policy, and unaccountable defense and military leadership.
To build the multiracial, working class movement to transform America, we must invest in the leadership development of military/veterans who share our values and can speak directly to white supremacy, militarism, and inequity in a powerful way that also unites new blocs of power. WFPower’s’ Peace & Security team is meeting the task by running and growing a one-of-a-kind, community-building, cohort-based training program for military veterans and voters.
Curriculum includes anti-oppression teachings, issue advocacy and education, and hard skills to build analysis and organizing acumen. The program only starts with training, but maintains connection to build a growing movement of veteran and military activists committed to building a nation and world divested from war, nuclear weapons, and violence.
A Movement Organizing Technology Engine
Leaders need tools to effectively recruit their own people, and those new volunteers need pathways to become leaders themselves. To develop that cycle and campaign most effectively, we have made exceptional investments in our technology infrastructure. That includes peer-to-peer texting, paid and unpaid social media strategy, a powerful database, virtual phone bank tools, distributed organizing, and more. Within social movements and organizational coalitions, we share these tools openly and eagerly. Because we have invested deeply in building relationships within movements and in developing on-the-ground volunteer leaders, we are able to make those tools relevant and actionable, both rapidly and at mass scale. This has been game changing in rapid response efforts, from our coronavirus response work to turnout in the 2020/2021 Georgia runoffs. This is one of our most significant contributions both to our partnerships and to the progressive cause as a whole. Doubling down on our technology platforms and remote organizing tools was already a priority before the pandemic, but the crisis further necessitated and accelerated that progress.
Expanding Visionary Thinking
WFPower has established a National Organizing team focused on recruiting and developing a diverse mass base of volunteers and leaders to expand our distributed organizing and advocacy capacity, as well as support our state-based organizers. Working in close partnership with them is our Radical Education team, working to achieve near-term and long-term narrative and consciousness shifts around the issues working people face today, the origins of and solutions to those problems, and the scope of what is possible if we organize together. Our educational efforts range from mass communication; to deep e-learning tools; to intensive, week-long trainings with international recruitment. As we build our base, we are focused on increasingly sophisticated radical education opportunities.
We have seen tremendous success and enthusiasm in our popular education programming, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, to defunding the police, to housing justice, to modern-day public school segregation, and more. We are continuing to expand our investments in rigorous ideological education through our state and local chapters as well as our institutional and movement allies, building a deeper shared understanding of capitalist economic exploitation, patriarchy, white supremacy, and our rigged political system.