In 2022 Michigan won sweeping victories at the state and local level. Ballot propositions to advance voting rights and enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution passed with strong support. Voters also re-elected a progressive Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General, and pro-democracy majorities in the State Senate and State House, gaining the first trifecta in almost 40 years, and the mandate to govern.
Last week we celebrated a tremendous win in Wisconsin for democracy, reproductive rights and other core freedoms. It was a team effort — demonstrating the power of a disciplined, well-resourced, aligned civic infrastructure going all in together on a smart strategy. With the addition of Justice Protasiewicz, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will have a 4-3 pro-democracy majority, enabling them to finally take on gerrymandered election districts and voting rights, an outdated 1849 abortion ban, workers rights and more.
Loud Light organizers know the dangers of extremism. As children, they grappled with the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita. As they reached voting age, they saw extremists place deliberate barriers to voting.
So, in 2022, when Kansans’ constitutional right to abortion care was threatened by a radical ballot measure, Loud Light was ready. For seven years, Loud Light had engaged young voters, and RDI’s flexible support enabled Loud Light to shift their programs and try new ideas.
Rural communities depend on public schools so that students can acquire the skills and knowledge to become critical thinkers ready to seize their future. But these valuable tools are threatened by reactionary forces seeking to cut funding and give it to private schools.
Alaskans transformed their political landscape in 2022—thanks to a coalition led by Progress Alaska, AKPIRG, The Mobilization Center, Alaska Voter Hub, Native People’s Action, and Alaskans for a Better Government. That coalition mobilized Native, young, and women voters with well-executed strategies, including canvassing, communications, and legal fights.
Rural Democracy Initiative’s (RDI) 501c3 Heartland Fund and 501c4 Rural Victory Fund are starting 2023 by recommending $1,831,000 in grants to 31 groups, with a deep investment in the consequential spring elections in Wisconsin, fall elections in Virginia, the Farm Bill, and state level budget fights for key rural issues like public schools and elder care.
It has been nearly a month since a Norfolk Southern Train derailed and devastated the community of East Palestine - a small town in northeastern Ohio. One of our grantees, River Valley Organizing (RVO), is based in the community and has thrown themselves into documenting local residents’ experiences, helping to raise their voices and take action for immediate solutions.
70% of rural residents don’t have a college degree, and they demand a compelling economic vision that puts working people first. That’s why RDI provided catalytic support for the Winning Jobs Narrative (WJN) that rural advocates use to connect more persuasively with working-class voters.
Rural Democracy's Sarah Jaynes outlines the strategic lessons behind this year’s rural gains and how an economic agenda and narrative focused on rural working people also contributed to success and points the way toward 2024.