25 Grantees Named for 2021 Accelerator Award Program
In partnership with the RepresentUs Campaign Accelerator, the Unite America Fund has selected 25 recipients for the 2021 Accelerator Award program.
The new and emerging campaigns are working to advance voters first reforms at the local and state level; grantees will receive funding and in-kind support in an incubator program designed to bring more reform campaigns to scale.
The Accelerator Award program is designed to provide seed resources — both money and expertise — to nascent efforts to advance voters first reforms across the country.
The effort solves several key challenges facing our movement: early stage efforts rarely receive the support required to emerge as politically viable campaigns; philanthropists want to invest in strong teams and organizations, requiring an incubator to get campaigns ready for larger investment; local and state-based organizations desire opportunities to learn from experts and act on insights from campaigners from other areas of the country.
The recipients will have the opportunity to apply for follow-on funding from the Unite America Fund as their campaigns emerge, and they will receive in-kind strategic support from RepresentUs, who will advise on policy design, conduct research, provide digital assets, support earned media efforts, consult on building strong field programs, and run accountability campaigns for opponents.
Over 120 applications for the program were received in the second quarter of 2021 representing an exciting level of interest and engagement on democracy reform across the country.
The grantees are nonpartisan organizations focused on advancing one or more of the four following powerful reforms: ranked choice voting, nonpartisan primaries, independent redistricting commissions, and vote at home. They are working in states that reflect the political diversity of the country, from Texas and Arkansas to Washington and New Mexico. Overall, the 25 selected grantees represent 21 states and Washington, D.C.
A few illustrative organizations supported by the program include:
- Ranked Choice Voting for Texas started as a group of Texans frustrated with the political environment who decided to work together to try to get Texas to adopt RCV as a way to elect candidates with broader voter support and make elections more civil, less expensive, and more satisfying to voters. In its first year, the organization gathered supporters throughout the state and advocated for three bills. A bill to implement RCV for military and overseas voters was passed by one chamber, but was caught up in end-of-session pressure to pass contentious voter integrity legislation.
- Washington for Equitable Representation, a multi-racial, multi-generational coalition focused on achieving equitable representation through ranked-choice voting. The organization is working on a 2021 legislatively referred ballot measure in King County, Washington to establish ranked choice voting for countywide elections and set the stage for future statewide legislation.
- In Wyoming, Take Back Our Republic (TBOR) is working to advance ranked choice voting to ensure majority winners in elections, especially primaries. TBOR is a non-profit educating the public on conservative solutions for political reform. They are a non-partisan organization that advocates to ensure power and influence is returned to "We The People" instead of outside special interests groups.
- Ranked Choice Voting for Colorado, an organization that convenes an RCV stakeholder policy roundtable, educates voters, and supports initiatives. Recent accomplishments include the 2020 RCV initiative in Boulder which won with 79% support and the 2021 bipartisan passage of legislation building the administrative infrastructure to implement RCV in all counties. Grant funds will support local organizing to advance adoption of RCV in more cities statewide.
- Common Cause New Mexico, an organization that has been on the front lines of advancing bipartisan redistricting reform in 2021, as well as supporting the implementation of RCV in Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Accelerator Award support will allow for continued work in expanding RCV in the state.
New and emerging campaigns are encouraged to apply for Accelerator Award program support on a rolling basis, and our teams will continue to vet opportunities for potential investment.
The Unite America Fund also seeks to raise more resources for the program, to ensure all the needs of these nascent campaigns are met and so we can continue to consider new applicants.