The vote is in! Political inclusion for all!

March 7th, 2011

Last month Learning Exchange webinar presented “Ballot Box to Podium: Mobilizing Immigrant Voters and New Leadership.” This city-to-city conversation between Alejandra Bravo, manager of leadership programs at Maytree and manager of the School4Civics program, and Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) in Boston, focused on the political participation of diverse communities. Watch the webinar recording and find new related resources online.

73% of webinar survey respondents have told us they would adapt these good ideas in their own cities. So, what does it take to start your own political training program and leadership network, or run a successful political and media campaign? Here are some highlights of transferable lessons from our presenters!

Alejandra Bravo, Manager of the School4Civics program, shares her tips for building a successful non-partisan mentoring program and leadership network that trains new candidates to run for office or manage a campaign:

  • Design a training curriculum that offers leadership development (identifying values and impact); practical election and campaign workshops (fundraising, communications, identifying and getting out the vote); and participatory learning styles including hands-on exercises and online formats
  • Leadership: find someone with political experience and broad political network across party lines to run the program
  • Find trainers, mentors and coaches with a multi-partisan spirit who can share their experience to bring practical lessons from the field.
  • Train the trainers – provide trainers with tools – they may have strategic, fundraising, communications, or other expertise, but they may not be teachers. Equip them with interactive exercises and other learning tools.
  • Invest in success… especially with limited resources, it makes sense to invest more (support, time, opportunities), in people who will truly benefit.
  • Partner with other organizations working to promote political leadership and participation of other underrepresented groups
  • Wait for long-term impact: the program may end, but the political journey just begins, so remain connected. The success of the leaders you trained, and their social impact, could be months or years in the making.
  • Share the stories of success of the leaders you train to garner media attention
  • Maintain a network and be deliberate about connecting people, not just with each other, but also with people in positions of power and influence (this could be an elected official or a well-connected activist behind the scenes).

Watch the webinar recording and find new related resources online.

Read more about Toronto’s  School4Civics , a Good Idea for developing diverse political leadership, and how to get in touch.


Eva Millona shares success tips for mobilizing new immigrant voters for political participation from the campaigning experiences of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition:

  • Build strong ethnic media contacts over time to reach targeted constituencies, including utilizing your own network (members and staff) for connections.
  • Excite the media by pitching compelling stories of success (from voter turnout and engagement to positive stories about active immigrants participating in civic life)
  • Speak the language: find celebrities and allies to reach out in various languages and conduct multilingual interviews
  • Give voters the information they need to make informed decisions (i.e. voter guides that outline issues from health to safety)
  • Find the new voters (e.g. make use of naturalization ceremonies for photo opportunities and story pitches), while maintaining and growing your voters database from previous campaigns
  • Spread the word using many channels, many formats – direct-mail, door-to-door, telephone, postering, postcards
  • Reduce physical and language barriers for new voters by offering transportation services to polling stations, translation services, weekend hours

Watch the webinar recording and find new related resources online.

Read more about Media Advocacy at MIRA, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition , a Good Idea from Boston, and how to get in touch.

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