The Arena’s first investment is “more helpful than the DNC”
When we started The Arena back in December 2016, we set out to shine a light on up-and-coming leaders across America who have been inspired to enter the civic arena. We’ve been blown away by the caliber of prospective candidates and social entrepreneurs we’ve met from around the country in the last few months. To galvanize these leaders and help them achieve their goals, we’re excited to move forward with our plans to actively support a few of them as Arena Fellows.
These Fellows will participate in a new accelerator program that will include strategic planning support and training from our team; access to the networks of Arena participants, staff, and supporters; and where necessary a stipend to help them focus on their core work. We will formally announce the vision for the fellowship and release the application later this month.
That said, true to our roots, we remain nimble and had to seize on an opportunity to support a talented and visionary member of our community. That’s why we are excited to announce that we will be bringing on Catherine Vaughan, co-founder and CEO of Flippable, as our inaugural Arena Fellow and will be extending Flippable a fellowship stipend to help them stay afloat during these critical next few months.
Our support won’t get them all of the way there. They also need your help. But before we talk about what — and how much — they need, let us tell you a little about Flippable.
Catherine Vaughan and her team at Flippable have been one of the best examples of the high-caliber, game-changing work that we helped accelerate at our first Arena Summit in Nashville last December. Flippable works to flip state legislative seats from red to blue across the country by mobilizing a grassroots base to spread awareness, volunteer, donate, and vote.
As many of you know, winning state seats is critical to Democrats’ success at the national level. Over the past few decades, and particularly the past 10 years, Republicans have invested heavily in state legislative seats. As a result, Republicans now control both chambers in 33 states, and Democrats hold 1,000 fewer state seats than they did in 2008. The impact of these losses extends far beyond any one state. With their control of state chambers, Republicans have radically redrawn Congressional district lines in their favor, leading to the loss of 69 Democratic House seats. They have kept the most vulnerable in society from the ballot box by enacting voter ID laws, cutting early voting, and disenfranchising felons. And as Democrats lose seats in state legislatures — and, worse, stop running for these seats — our pipeline deteriorates. We risk losing out on a generation of progressive leaders.
Flippable is yielding some strong results where they are needed most: supporting Democrats running in contested state legislative races. Catherine and her team have driven more than $225,000 in funding to multiple state candidates. They’re incredibly scrappy, and they’re changing outcomes already. Last week, Delaware state senate candidate Stephanie Hansen won a pivotal race, ensuring that the state senate remained blue. In a district that Democrats scraped by in the previous election (with just a 2% margin), Stephanie won with a 17% margin, turning out 1,000 more Democrats. Flippable raised national attention to the race, amplified her candidacy with press partnerships, and raised $130,000 for her campaign. This was over half of her original campaign budget ($215,000) and one-third of her eventual funds raised ($400,000). Indeed, Flippable was so crucial to that race that Hansen’s campaign manager recently told Vice that Flippable was more helpful to their race than the DNC.
“I would go out on a limb,” said campaign manager Eric Raser-Schramm, “and say Flippable was more helpful [than the DNC].”
Vice.com, The New Grassroots, March 4, 2017
And Flippable will make an impact beyond small dollar donations. By making information transparent to candidates, donors, and support organizations, the organization is building the data infrastructure to inform each step of the candidate pipeline. Flippable’s data on district “flippability” can inspire committed Democrats on where to run for office and serve as a valuable input into candidate recruitment efforts. Its emphasis on measurement will serve campaigns as they test and refine messaging and get out the vote tactics.
But here’s the catch: Flippable faces the reality of having to stop what they’re doing if they’re unable to raise funds to continue their work. That’s why The Arena is pitching in early. And they need your support too.
For $350,000 more, Catherine and her team can continue their work through the summer and continue driving funds and support to state legislative candidates. Can you help them get there?
We’re so proud to make Catherine a formal part of The Arena community, and our first Fellow. We would love your support, financially and otherwise, to ensure they are successful and can help us retake state legislative seats across America.
You can donate directly to Flippable here.
Ravi and Swati