People in rural Minnesota want programs that enable them to live a good life and take care of their community. But rural representatives from both parties have consistently failed to take action. That changed in 2023 when Minnesota passed an ambitious agenda for widespread prosperity supported by new legislators backed by a growing group of local organizers.

The progress Minnesotans saw in 2023 resulted from a decade of organizing efforts throughout the state.

In 2014, Todd Lippert was a pastor in rural Minnesota advocating for access to driver’s licenses regardless of citizenship. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) majority he supported initially refused to pass this legislation and then lost control of the statehouse in the November elections. For Todd, it was a wake-up call that they needed to “have more power to get legislators to do what communities needed.”

To build this power, the community organization ISAIAH created Faith in Minnesota, a 501c4 partner, to run leaders for office and engage in elections. In 2018, they played a key role in electing a governor and state legislators who shared the coalition’s priorities — including Todd who was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives. In addition, Faith in Minnesota helped build a statewide coalition that shared a policy roadmap and communication strategy. 

In 2022, the coalition mobilized voters to elect a governing trifecta that championed the coalition’s policy agenda. In 2023, Todd and other rural organizers with Faith in Minnesota held press conferences, sent letters, gave public testimony, and organized district meetings. This time, things were different than in 2014; the coalition had a mobilized base, organizational capacity, strong relationships with elected leadership, and a shared mandate.

In 2023, Minnesota passed sweeping legislation for widespread prosperity, including paid family and medical leave, affordable healthcare, and improved access to child care. Minnesota also adopted an important clean energy plan, protected reproductive rights, improved access to voting, and ensured the opportunity for driver's licenses for all.