Democracy Summer is a one-of-a-kind Democratic Fellowship project that engages high school and college students in the nuts-and-bolts of effective campaign organizing, the critical policy questions of the day—with a focus on environmental activism and climate change, democracy reform and redressing economic inequality—and the history of progressive political and social change. Our political mission in 2019 is to deploy Democracy Summer Fellows to help progressive Democratic candidates win key state legislative elections in swing districts in the two off-year election states, Virginia and New Jersey, and to help Democrats win pivotal special U.S. House elections like NC-09.
Fellows divide their time evenly between engaging with critical policy analysis and political discussion in a classroom setting and participating directly in electoral work, including voter registration, phone-banking, canvassing, donor research, and campaign research. Fellows receive practical hands-on training in all of the major areas of political organizing and Democratic campaigning, including canvassing, field organizing, voter registration, staging rallies and protests, communications and rhetoric, fundraising, and voter mobilization.
Fellows are paid a stipend of up to $1500 for six weeks. They receive a first-class political education and grow a lifelong network of friends, mentors, role models and compatriots. They can also request academic and professional recommendation letters upon completion.
Democracy Summer features an interactive curriculum on the history of progressive politics; guest speakers on policy topics, campaign organizing, and strategy; hundreds of hours of well-designed campaign organizing projects and deployments; and a mix of popular political events. Activities in 2019 include:
- working with Democratic U.S. House and state legislative nominees and joining forces with local resistance groups to win key elections to take back the Virginia legislature and preserve the House majority
- participating in canvassing, phone banking and online organizing efforts locally and nationally
- staffing fundraisers, marches, and events in support of progressive causes and candidates
- learning from progressive policy experts, elected officials, candidates and campaign staff
- learning about the non-profit sector, public policy, and electoral politics and related career paths
Democracy Summer 2019:
In the summer of 2019, Democracy Summer is training over 100 college and high school-age participants during two six-week summer sessions in two regions: Silver Spring, MD and Richmond, VA. In Richmond and in Silver Spring, Fellows are working to flip the Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate and turn the Commonwealth blue! They’re also calling voters to turn out the vote for candidates in other competitive elections nationwide. So far this summer, Fellows have already had persuasive conversations with more than 600 voters.
Democracy Summer 2018:
In the summer of 2018, 207 Fellows across four states–Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Iowa–canvassed or phonebanked for Democratic nominees for U.S. House in 18 of the most competitive U.S. House races to take back the House. In 14 of the 18 districts, the Democratic nominee prevailed, flipping 13 seats and holding 1 tough seat for the Dems. Democracy Summer’s infusion of grassroots volunteer energy from local activists propelled the Pennsylvania Fab Four women, Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Susan Wild and Chrissy Houlahan, along with progressive women candidates in Virginia and Iowa and the first openly LGBTQ+ Rep. from New Hampshire to a sweeping blue wave that crashed down on Capitol Hill. Major canvassing trips stretched as far south as Henrico, VA; as far west as Winchester, VA, and as far north as Nazareth, PA. The 2018 wins / total races by category are in the top left corner of the attached list.
Democracy Summer 2017:
In the summer of 2017, 52 Fellows spent 6 weeks partaking in seminars with economists, environmentalists, and union leaders; participating in public speaking trainings, media messaging, campaign strategy and fundraising; and meeting with members of Congress at the DNC.
Fellows deployed heavily to Georgia for Jon Ossoff’s important grassroots special election campaign for the U.S. House. Fellows went to Virginia on weekends to help the Democratic statewide ticket sweep to victory and to propel five progressive Democrats to upset incumbent Republicans in key state legislative races. They also protested in substantial numbers on Capitol Hill against threats to the ACA.
With dramatically increased exposure for the program, volunteer support, and donor support, the program will operate in multiple states next year to defend vulnerable Democratic U.S. House seats, flip more seats, retake the U.S. Senate, and beat Donald Trump. The more we are able to raise, the more students we can recruit with a stipend that enables them to participate, the more students we can train, the more voters they will mobilize, the more races we’ll win, and the more progressive change we’ll effect in the U.S. both in the short-term and the long-term.