New home, new staff, and a new round of funding!

By Brandon Naylor

It’s only March, but it's already been an exciting year at Democracy Works.

A Great Way to Begin 2015
We recently announced our second round of fundraising (which began in late 2014) with $1.4 million in grants from our friends, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This support will assist with a technical rewrite of TurboVote and the launch of Ballot Scout, our first tool for local election officials. It also moves the ball down the field toward our goal of financial sustainability — entirely supporting our work through the colleges, nonprofits, and local governments that cover the costs associated with serving their communities. We are grateful to have funders who understand our mission to upgrade the infrastructure of our democracy.

Knight News Challenge on Elections
Another wonderful benefit of our relationship with funders like Knight is that we get to be a part of the awesome projects they develop. Just last week, they launched the Knight News Challenge on Elections, which asks people to submit ideas that address the question "How might we better inform voters and increase civic participation before, during and after elections?" A collaboration between Knight, the Democracy Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Rita Allen Foundation, the challenge is offering more than $3 million for innovative ideas. We encourage you to spread the word about this opportunity and submit some yourself. Submissions close at 5:00 p.m. Eastern on March 19th.

New Home Sweet Home
The first of the year represents change in many ways: New Year’s resolutions, the coming of spring, and in our case, relocating to a new Brooklyn office! After three great years at the Blue Ridge Foundation, we have moved to new office space at 20 Jay St., Suite 824, Brooklyn, NY. This new office will accommodate Democracy Works as we continue to grow (and the view isn’t bad, either).

Welcome A Few New Democracy Work-ers
Brady Kriss, a highly educated and exceptionally good, if disgruntled, technology and privacy attorney has run screaming from the legal industry and into Democracy Works’s open arms. She has lived dozens of places in her life, but now calls Pasadena, CA, home. Brady has joined the team as a Partner Success Lead and will dedicate her time and effort to making sure our TurboVote partners have all of the resources and support they need to make the most of the program on their campuses.

Mike Ward, our new TurboVote Outreach Lead, comes to Democracy Works with experience in for-profit and nonprofit organizations, most recently in human rights. He was born and (mostly) raised in the great state of New Jersey and now lives in Harlem. Mike will focus on finding and developing new TurboVote partnerships around the country.

And I’m Brandon Naylor, the new Director of Communications for Democracy Works. I’m originally from Kansas (Go Jayhawks!), but spent 6 years working for members of congress in Washington, D.C. Having returned home, I now represent half of the Democracy Works team working remotely out of “the Kansas satellite office,” and I look forward to helping tell the story of this exceptional organization.

We’re also currently looking for budding student talent to submit application materials for our TurboVote Summer Associate positions. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please encourage them to visit our website for application details.

2015 began with a lot of good news, but we are doing everything we can to ensure the rest of the year is just as exciting. And don’t even get me started on how great 2016 is gonna be...

Brandon Naylor