Sister District builds enduring progressive power in state legislatures by filling critical gaps at every point in the political lifecycle. We win elections by “sistering” teams of volunteers across the country to support candidates with field and fundraising capacity, and providing strategic professional support to campaigns. We support organizers through hands-on training and coaching, and also direct grassroots fundraising support to power-building organizations on the ground in the states where we work. We develop legislators to help our alumni hit the ground running in office, and by supporting candidates who lost but who should run again. We educate and empower through cutting-edge voter and volunteer engagement research and broader education about the importance of states.
Since launching in the wake of the 2016 elections, we have grown to over 50,000 members nationwide, raised $3.6 million for candidates, and reached out to 3.1 million voters through phones, doors, postcards, and texts. While we have a Democratic trifecta at the federal level, our progressive values—in terms of voting rights, reproductive health, climate change, and more—are under attack and vulnerable in the states. Our 2021-2022 strategy is laser-focused on building power in the states that matter most.
We have a top notch research and data team, led by our political director, that analyzes quantitative data from past election cycles, as well as qualitative data on the candidates and districts, to inform our selection process. We support a portfolio of candidates with the strategic goals of (1) flipping chambers, (2) holding chambers, and (3) making inroads into badly gerrymandered states.
At Sister District, we are working to build and maintain Democratic majorities in state legislatures across the country. Since our founding in late 2016, we have had tremendous success by executing a comprehensive strategy that involves both electoral and non-electoral tactics. Read more about our political strategy.
Not at all! We encourage volunteers (and candidates) of all genders to work with us. The “Sister” in our name refers to the concept of pairing teams of volunteers with races in a different location (kind of like “Sister Cities”). We believe in gender justice and gender equity, and have many fantastic volunteers and candidates who are not female.
We are pleased to say that we are in touch with the leadership of the organizations listed here and count them as our allies. Sister District regularly communicates with these groups to ensure that we complement each other and, most importantly, are on track to accomplish our common goal. Read more about the organizational allies we are actively working with here.
The Sister District Project is a 527 political organization and PAC. The Sister District Action Network is a 501(c)(4) organization.
We build teams of volunteers in securely blue districts and “sister” them with campaigns in vulnerable districts. Volunteers support their Sister Races by phonebanking, canvassing, postcarding, fundraising, and raising awareness on their behalf.
In 2020, Sister District supported 45 races in 9 states. We grew to over 50,000 volunteers across the country, raised over $1.8 million for our candidates, and reached out to over 1.2 million voters in critical swing states.
Read more about our 2020 Impact!
Sister District Project’s political strategy is complemented by non-electoral efforts performed at our affiliated (c)(4), Sister District Action Network (SDAN). These include voter registration projects, civic education about the importance of state legislatures and state issues, and field experiments testing new methods of voter and volunteer contact. Each year, SDP and SDAN work together to create a mix of electoral and non-electoral activities for our volunteer community.
First, sign up on our website. You will receive a welcome email from us, and you should also receive a welcome email from your local district captains (DCs) who will begin looping you in to nearby activities. If you have any questions about volunteering before signing up, please fill out this form. Other ways to get involved include encouraging friends and family to get involved, sharing some of our posts on social media, or donating to Sister District!
As a volunteer with SDP, your core mission is to support your assigned Sister Race. If you’ve volunteered with a campaign before, these tasks will be familiar to you:
Small donations. Campaigns need cash to run, especially the modest down-ballot races we support. We’ll make it easy by making available secure links that allow you to donate straight to the campaign. SDP does not take any of the money you donate to campaigns.
Fundraisers. You’re encouraged to organize and/or attend fundraisers in your home district to support your Sister Race. Depending on the campaign, it may be possible to feature a message from the candidate, or even a live stream or in-person conversation. These are a great way to build your local community too!
Phonebanking. Voter outreach is incredibly important, whether it’s persuasion calls or reminding people to vote. Whether you organize or attend a phonebank, you’ll learn a lot and be able to do it as part of a team.
Canvassing. Where feasible and appropriate, we encourage you to travel to the location of your Sister Race. Person-to-person contact makes an enormous difference, particularly through canvassing (knocking on doors). The goals might be voter registration, persuasion, or GOTV (get-out-the-vote) on or near election day. This can be a rewarding opportunity to travel somewhere new and make meaningful connections. And don’t worry, we’ll make sure you have the training you need!
Social media. No matter what the Sister Race, we’ll ask you to spread the word. Liking and sharing posts helps promote them in other people’s feeds, and sharing your excitement and activities around your Sister Race helps build momentum.
Keep in mind that SDP’s focus is elections. Although there will be exceptions for special elections, much of the work we’ll be asking you to do happens during election high season, from June to November.
Elections are cyclical, and we typically wait until there is just one Democratic candidate before officially supporting campaigns. (In some cases, if the primary is late and there is a strong candidate, we may start supporting a candidate before the primary has occurred.) Sometimes we support special elections. The best way to stay updated is by signing up to volunteer.
Yes, we encourage our teams and volunteers to get engaged year-round with the things they are passionate about. However, SDP HQ goes through an extensive legal, compliance, and candidate vetting process prior to officially supporting a campaign, and we do not have the resources to do that for unofficial races. Therefore, teams that want to support races that are not official Sister Races are responsible for their own compliance.
A district captain (DC) is someone who has volunteered to help lead his or her team. Most teams have more than one DC, so no one person has to shoulder all the responsibility alone. We are always looking for enthusiastic folks who want to take on this role! If you’ve never been an activist before, don’t worry—many of our best DCs are new to political activism. We will provide you with the support that you need to get up and running. Tasks include maintaining and managing your email list of volunteers, holding meetings, helping plan events, and communicating with HQ and your team about Sister District campaigns and operations. If you are interested, please fill out this form!
It depends on if you donate to our candidates, or to Sister District as an organization. If you donate to any of our candidates, every penny goes directly to their campaigns—Sister District does not take a cut. If you donate to Sister District itself, your money funds our extremely lean organization. If you have further questions on how to donate, contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. States are critical to securing fairly drawn districts and fighting back against gerrymandering and voter suppression.
2. States are incubators of strong progressive policies and leaders.
3. State level campaigns are often small and under-nourished—our volunteers’ dollars and hard work can have an outsized impact.
In 34 states, the state legislatures control redistricting. Elected officials often take advantage of the redistricting process by drawing district lines in their own favor, which can determine election outcomes before voters even head to the polls. By turning state legislatures blue, we can help put an end to the undemocratic practice of gerrymandering and win back both state and congressional seats.
Redistricting is the process of redrawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected. Redistricting typically takes place every ten years following the census, and impacts which voters elect which members of Congress, state and local legislators, and other elected officials. The next round of redistricting will begin following the 2020 Census.
When done improperly, redistricting can result in partisan gerrymandering, minority vote dilution, and districts that favor incumbents. Voter turnout can decrease, as confidence in the legitimacy of the electoral system wanes.
If nothing is done to address inequitable redistricting in our country, public opinion will continue to be at odds how representatives are voting.
When redistricting in our country become more transparent and equitable, our representatives will vote more aligned to constituents desires, and our voting process will be more democratic.