Over the last year, the California Alliance has built and tested a statewide civic engagement apparatus through innovative technology, topnotch training and tight coordination among anchor groups. Now, this powerful network — capable of reaching hundreds of thousands of voters — is positioned to make a real difference. This fall, the Alliance will begin to engage in statewide policy battles to reform the broken budget process and curb corporate power abuse.
The Alliance has grown significantly over the last year, expanding to 10 California counties via 12 anchors representing 27 individual organizations, including base-building groups, human service providers, and labor unions. Beginning this month, the Alliance intensifies work in demographically “shifting” suburban and rural counties by welcoming two new anchor formations in three Central Valley counties – Fresno, Tulare and Kern.
Along with geographic expansion, the Alliance has dramatically increased the scale of its operations. The Alliance’s long-term goal is to mobilize 500,000 Californians — 5% of the electorate — through local, trusted community-based organizations. After only one year, the Alliance will already be a third of the way there.
The Alliance launches the Fall Civic Engagement program this Saturday, September 25, during which members will engage 200,000 Californians on fiscal and governance reform through its state-of-the-art predictive dialing system coupled with enhanced skills-building for phone-banking and door-knocking team members. The fall program will also mark the beginning of the Alliance’s efforts to build a large, vibrant network of grassroots volunteer leaders who will have face-to-face conversations with tens of thousands of their neighbors, especially those who are not civically active on a regular basis.
To inspire and motivate community members who are new to civic participation, it is vital that the Alliance “change the story” about government and its role advancing shared prosperity in the state. In scripts and materials, the Alliance will field-test an emerging narrative that draws on the enduring widespread love for California – for the state’s promise, its opportunities, its natural beauty. This narrative highlights the “California Dream” and how re-energizing that golden promise is possible only by updating tax and fiscal policies necessary to increase public investment in education and other structures of support for individual achievement.
This new narrative has emerged during a three-year process working with research, communications and polling experts on a communications strategy that can speak to the “moveable middle” as well as existing supporters — particularly urban people of color not yet tapped by progressive organizing and rural and suburban moderates. Building on extensive social values analysis and polling by American Environics, themes crafted by smartMeme (a creative communications firm), and recent focus groups in four regions led by Hart Research and Associates, a new story that can bolster the case for more equitable taxation is being shaped and sharpened through real-world testing. Combining a strong communications strategy with increased scope and scale of civic engagement, the Alliance is poised to build grassroots power and reshape policy in California over the years to come.