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This Start-Up Wants To Put 100 Progressive Women In Congress By 2020

Project 100’s founders have decided to bridge the gap between “talk” and “action” in a fascinating way.

Cries for diversity alone, no matter how numerous, can’t be equated with actual empowerment. But Project 100 aims to ensure that progressive women who decide to run for office can raise funds, recruit volunteers, and market themselves to create a successful campaign for office.

The new start-up platform is being run by former leader of the Tony Blair Foundation Danielle Gram, writer Isabel Kaplan, and former U.S. Digital Service creative director Eduardo Ortiz. Former Google politics head Eric Hysen serves as a senior adviser to the company.

The founders’ experience in politics taught them that while good intentions are a noble first step, the ability to manage and run a campaign, especially with limited resources, is what so often keeps qualified candidates from election.

Their mission statement, per the Project 100 website:

“Our digital platform gives everyday activists the tools they need to find and support the strongest candidates running so that women who deserve to lead can gain the backing they need to win.”

From their experiences in the public sector, the founders knew better than to develop a naively idealistic “cure” for the current lack of diversity in politics. Instead of platitudes, Hysen uses more straightforward means of harness public attention to level the playing field for the project’s candidates.

“A lot of start-ups tried to make the one shiny app that everyone will get on their phones and suddenly will make the entire world politically engaged. That's an idealistic view of how politics works that doesn't line up with the real world,” Hysen said. “I don't think there will ever be the Uber or Google of politics that takes off in the same way you see in Silicon Valley. Every part of this design is designed around how people actually engage in politics, not how we hope they would.”

Designed to serve voters as much as candidates, Project 100 comes online at a time when political issues seem to permeate every facet of life but the action actually taken to effect change remains disproportionately small.

“The time is right for this,” said Danielle Gram. “2.5 million men and women marched in the Women's March. Between the #MeToo movement and activism for equal pay and reproductive rights, everyone is talking about these issues, but they haven't yet found a home for action. We want to be where they can go.”

Image via Project 100.

Project 100’s current goal is to “achieve 100 progressive women serving in Congress by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote” — and that effort is already underway as they promote candidates in congressional districts throughout the nation.

The project seeks progressive candidates with aligning views on these three issues:

  • Equal treatment under the law. We believe all people, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, or physical ability deserve equal protection and opportunity. This means supporting LGBTQ equality, criminal justice reform, defense of voting rights, and immigration reform.

  • Economic opportunity. Americans deserve job opportunities that afford a living wage, and people deserve equal payment for equal work. We support candidates who will expand access to quality public education, address rising inequality, create jobs and raise incomes.

  • Healthy people and communities. All people deserve access to affordable health care, communities free of violence, bigotry and hatred. We support candidates in favor of gun violence prevention, contraceptive access and reproductive choice, domestic and sexual assault prevention and response, environmental preservation, and health care access for all.

Project 100 pledges an inclusive approach to the candidates it supports and the voters it serves.

Those interested in donating, volunteering, or campaigning themselves can find the resources they require here.

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