May 9, 2016
Piper Action Fund, a Proteus Action Fund initiative, invests in leading edge efforts to address special interest influence on America’s political and judicial systems. This past year, Voqal partnered with Piper to support several efforts aimed at achieving real, long-term campaign finance reform. This included Demos’s Inclusive Democracy project, a movement-building program to train a new generation of money in politics “Movement Makers” from communities of color. Piper also took action to strengthen local campaign finance laws in Seattle by supporting Win/Win Network and Washington Community Action Network ‘s field program as part of the successful Honest Elections Seattle campaign to pass ballot initiative I-122, a comprehensive public financing program.
Through its Inclusive Democracy project, Demos was able to create a learning community of leaders of color. To accomplish this, two meetings were held comprised of workshops focused on integrating important issues like public financing and universal voter registration into efforts to accelerate racial and economic justice agendas. The program also helped participants develop criteria, leadership and timelines for campaigns to promote democracy reforms. These trainings led to action by many of the workshop participants including the formation of public financing campaigns in Chicago and Washington, DC.
Piper’s work with Demos, coupled with the financial support it provided state organizations also led to concrete success in making voting more accessible for low-income people and people of color in Seattle. Piper not only helped create Movement Makers in Seattle to tackle policy reforms through their work with Demos, but also they provided direct financial support to the Win/Win Network and the Washington Community Action Network for their role in building the broad, diverse coalition needed to pass local campaign finance reform in Seattle. Thanks to the work of these organizations and the partnerships they were able to create with Piper’s financial assistance, the coalition was able to pass I-122 which will limit large donor contributions and make local elections more accessible to traditionally underrepresented communities.
While Piper’s efforts contributed to a great policy victory in Seattle, their investments promise to produce a ripple effect elsewhere. The learning community of state-based leaders that was created to build alignment around the reframing of democracy reforms like public financing of elections as important racial and economic justice issues has the potential to serve as a catalyst for lasting change throughout the country. Voqal believes it is important to empower individuals to address gender, racial and economic inequity and is proud to have supported the Piper Action Fund in this work. We look forward to seeing the continued success of this movement and its leaders.