Reflective Democracy

WDN founded the Reflective Democracy Campaign in 2014 to change the conversation on the demographics of political power, and to begin piloting solutions that could break down structural barriers preventing the full talent America has to offer from serving in elected office. WDN members have invested nearly $4 million in the Campaign and its grant partners, and have leveraged more in partnership with other funders.

The Campaign’s groundbreaking research has measured and made publicly available — for the first time ever — the race and gender of America’s elected officeholders and candidates from the municipal to federal level and garnered coast-to-coast media attention from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to local talk radio. Using the results of a robust messaging project, the Campaign helped to change the national conversation. Reflective democracy is now a term that nearly every mainstream news outlet uses when talking about women and people of color and political power, most recently in a cover story in Cosmopolitan Magazine.

In October 2017, we released an update to our game-changing data. Access our data set and key findings at WhoLeads.Us.

In the wake of the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and a series of cases across the country where the role of elected prosecutors took center stage, the Campaign released an analysis of the demographics of America’s elected prosecutors, showing that they are 95% white, 83% male, and that two-thirds of states have no Black elected prosecutors. This data, also widely covered in national news media, helped to catalyze a growing movement focused on prosecutor accountability, led by Color of Change and other groups.

Since 2015, the Campaign has granted close to $500,000 each year to a series of Reflective Democracy Innovators — leaders, organizations, and projects seeking to dismantle the structural barriers standing in the way of a reflective democracy. Through this program we have funded leaders like Jessica Byrd of Three Point Strategies, who in 2016 was named the “January Woman to Watch” by Essence Magazine, “12 New Faces of Black Leadership” by Time Magazine, and one of the most influential millennials shaping the 2016 election by Rolling Stone.

We have supported women like Chrissie Castro, who through the Campaign’s early funding launched Advance Native Political Leadership, which seeks to increase political representation from Native communities. And by supporting well-respected community organizing groups from Oakland, California to Houston, Texas to Detroit, Michigan, the Campaign is helping to change the face of political power in these communities, and creating models for movement-centered political leadership development that is being replicated by peer organizations across the country.

Research projects the Reflective Democracy Campaign has published to date:

Visit What We Fund to see a full list of funded projects.

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