As we reflect on our fifth birthday here at Sister District, we are so proud of the community we have built—the candidates we have endorsed, the legislators we’ve supported, the passionate staff that works behind the scenes, and the incredible volunteers who are committed to building long-term progressive power in our state legislatures.
What we have accomplished over the past five years is astounding. What started as an idea our co-founders batted around on a social media thread has grown to a vibrant crew of nearly 60,000 volunteers. We have endorsed candidates in 131 races across 17 states, 73 of whom won and have gone on to fight for progressive issues in their state legislatures. We’ve raised $4.25 million in small-dollar donations directly for our candidates, and reached out to 3.5 million voters through phones, texts, postcards, and door knocks.
This year, we continued to make a massively outsized impact, making over 70% of our campaigns’ calls to voters and raising nearly 30% of the total number of candidates’ early donations (before September 1). Over 75% of both our calls and our fundraising went to races decided by less than 5%, demonstrating that we are targeting the most strategic races.
Although we gave it our all and more, Democrats still lost the majority by just 691 votes. But we are undaunted, and are redoubling our efforts to build progressive infrastructure. We’ve expanded our programming to support year-round organizing, nurture the candidate pipeline, and empower progressive state legislators. This is what real change looks like. It’s hard fought, it’s gradual, it’s done together—and it’s a long game.
In this report you’ll learn about what we accomplished in 2021. Our broad vision for how to create progressive change is guided by four conceptual pillars: 1) win elections, 2) support organizers, 3) develop legislators, and 4) educate and empower. This year, we left it all on the field in executing our strategic vision:
Win elections. Our candidate class was the most diverse in our history. Of our 12 inspiring candidates, 75% were women, 66.67% were candidates of color, and 41.67% were 40 and under. Our volunteer community completed 225,978 phonebank calls for our candidates, and raised $558,574 for our candidates. While Democrats suffered some painful losses overall, Sister District provided decisive support for our three successful candidates.
Support organizers. Our volunteer ranks now include 174 teams and affiliates in 32 states. Together, we raised $162,719.05 for allied, year-round powerbuilding organizations through our new State Bridges program.
Develop legislators. We supported progressive state legislators through launching our new Purple District Network and nurtured the state legislative leadership pipeline through our new Future Winners program.
Educate and empower. Our award-winning political research program produced important research on voter and volunteer engagement tactics, with results public and open to all, and our public education programming continues to build toward a world where voters are fired up to make real change at the state legislative level.
Thank you for being with us on this journey over the past five years. Onward to 2022 and beyond!
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Partnering with [Sister District] was a no-brainer since their strategy of supporting down ballot candidates is such a crucial piece of the work to build a progressive future and we know our volunteers are in good hands and will be able to plug in to work that is making a big difference.
-Vote Save America
Some of our field and fundraising efforts were particularly astounding in magnitude. In 2021, Sister District volunteers made huge differences in these winning campaigns:
Sister District volunteers made 54.76% of the campaign’s total phonebank calls and gave 16% of her early donations. She won by just 821 votes (1.97%).
Our volunteers made 75% of Sewell’s early phonebank calls and gave 41% of her early donations. She’ll be the first Black person and the youngest woman to represent HD-51.
We made 77% of Guzman’s total phonebank calls and gave 10.5% of her early small dollar donations. She is the first Latina and first woman to be re-elected twice in HD-31, and the first Latina reelected twice to the House of Delegates.
There is no way I would be in this position without Sister District in my corner every step of the way! Because of Sister District, I had the chance to communicate my personal commitment to my community and had countless volunteers across the nation assisting me in doing so.
-Briana Sewell, Delegate-elect from District 51
In 2021, the Sister District community were phonebanking powerhouses. We made 225,978 dials, which clocked in at an incredible 70.51% of our campaigns’ total dials.* We know that after canvassing, phone calls are the best way to reach voters. That’s why we invested considerable resources in terms of coaching, training, and content to promote volunteer participation in our phonebanking program.
*note: this does not include calls made by c3/c4 organizations or the coordinated campaign”
Collaborating with progressive partners allows us to increase our field capacity and contact more voters. Through our National Phonebank program, we multiplied our field impact in partnership with amazing organizations including Vote Save America, Human Rights Campaign, Run for Something, DLCC, South Asians for America, and more.
In 2021, we expanded our work to fill critical gaps elsewhere in the Democratic ecosystem. Over the last 5 years, we have seen a need for increased investment in training and developing former candidates and current legislators. Our Future Winners and Purple District Network programs were developed with these needs in mind, and were incredibly successful in their inaugural year. Through those programs, we were able to train 15 former candidates to run for office again in 10 states, and bring together 58 progressive state legislators from 32 different chambers to collaborate and learn from each other.
In 2021, we supported 12 candidates with full field and fundraising support. These candidates were demographically diverse, reflecting our commitment to helping build a democracy that looks like the people it represents.
Sister District considers increasing the representation of underrepresented groups in our state elected bodies to be one of its core missions. This includes but is not limited to women, people of color, and individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+.
will be the first Black person and the youngest woman to represent HD51.
is the first Latina and first woman to be reelected in HD31 and the first Latina reelected twice to the Virginia House of Delegates.
Sister District makes you feel like they’re in the fight with you, both personally and professionally. Every volunteer, donor and staff person demonstrates an unmatched level of passion and commitment when you need it most.
–Lashrecse Aird, 2021 Delegate and candidate from District 63
Many of our 2021 races were incredibly close, underscoring that every vote counts. And, wins and losses are not our only metric for success. We value providing support in close races, where tight margins indicate district competitiveness, laying the groundwork for future success.
94 votes <1%
127 votes <1%
512 votes <2%
647 votes ~2%
821 votes <2%
From all of us at Sister District, thank you for dedicating your time to save our democracy, for believing in our candidates, and for working toward a brighter future. As a grassroots organization, we know we are nothing without your endless support and hard work.
Whether you’ve been here since the beginning, donated a dollar here or there, or joined a phonebank this year-we want to thank you! Thank you for dedicating your time to save our democracy, for believing in our candidates, and for working toward a brighter future. Onward to 2022!