At Groundwork Project, we invest year-round in local community organizing. With a primary focus on Appalachia, the Deep South, and the Plains, we play the long game. Day to day, year to year: We show up to help build durable civic and political infrastructure in communities that have been overlooked, excluded and disenfranchised.
Meet our first three partner states. And stay tuned for more!
Alabama's rich political history features some of the most history-changing local organizing of the Civil Rights Era - and some of our nation's most stark setbacks to justice and equity in the form of white supremacy. Reckoning with this juxtaposition offers a path to durable power-building and progress over the next ten years.
Beginning with the infamous "Southern Strategy" of the 1960s, the conservative movement executed a successful effort to wrestle near-complete political control in Alabama at the local, state, and federal level. They've used this power with reckless abandon in recent years, imposing myriad voter suppression tactics, a near-total ban on abortions, and a transgender athlete ban.
Nevertheless there are signs of real opportunity and hope for the road ahead including demographic shifts, a broad base of likely voters committed to a more progressive future, and a vibrant, multi-racial coalition of 501c3 and 501c4 organizations and local political leaders working creatively and collaboratively to execute a long-term plan to undo conservative dominance in the state. Sustained organizing is needed to engage likely voters, listen, and build trust.
In Alabama, Groundwork Project Will:
Invest in local organizers on the ground who are working year-round to engage and educate voters, fight back against right-wing control, and expand progressive power.
Support efforts to create the durable political infrastructure needed to reach likely voters, break a conservative state supermajority and build a diverse voter base that can consistently win statewide.
Partner with organizers, activists, local leaders, and everyday voters in the frontline fights over Alabama's future, from voting rights to labor rights to racial justice.
United Women of Color
Based in Huntsville, United Women of Color was founded to empower women, girls, and their families in Madison County. From their "Vote Gone Viral" campaign to register and turnout disenfranchised voters during COVID-19 to their community advocacy around local police reform and youth program for middle-school girls: United WOC is deploying grassroots civic engagement to build power for this generation and the next.
Alabama Forward is a statewide civic engagement network committed to bringing together organizations to work together in building power around progressive civic issues and movement towards greater freedom.
Check back soon for updates on our work in Alabama
For all of modern history, Mississippi has been the epicenter of some of our nation's most consequential fights for voting rights, racial justice and democracy itself.
Today, the legacy of Jim Crow echoes through the politics, public policy, and lived experience of residents in this still deeply segregated state. But there are signs of hope for growing progressive power in the electorate - as evidenced last cycle when voters overwhelmingly passed progressive ballot initiatives to remove the Confederate flag from its state flag and legalize medical marijuana.
With this in mind, local leaders have built on Mississippi's historic tradition of organizing and advocacy, working over the last five years to create critical infrastructure, develop voter engagement strategies and expand data capacity. But more resources are needed to overcome generations of racial disenfranchisement and build equitable power for all residents.
To counteract the powerful forces of white supremacy and segregation still at play in the state, a deep, sustained, and year-round effort is needed to engage young, Black voters, activate sporadic voters (particularly those in rural areas that have lost faith), and to implement long-term strategic persuasion campaigns aimed at shifting moveable white voters around a more progressive future.
In Mississippi, Groundwork Project Will:
Invest in the local organizers on the ground who are working year-round to engage and educate voters, fight back against right-wing control, and expand progressive power.
Support efforts to develop and execute a long-term plan that will end the systemic political disenfranchisement of Black Mississippians, increase voter participation among young people, in particular, and build a diverse, statewide voting base.
Partner with organizers, activists, local leaders, and everyday voters in the frontline fights over Mississippi's future, from voting rights to anti-poverty and racial justice.
Mississippi Workers' Center
Location: Greenville, Mississippi
Executive Director: Jaribu Hill
For 25 years, the Mississippi Workers' Center has been organizing and advocating for low-wage workers in the Mississippi Delta. They serve on the frontlines of some of the most entrenched injustices and oppressions in the entire United States and advocate for the radical idea that the working poor should be treated with dignity, humanity and respect.
Mississippi Votes is an organization of intergenerational synergy centering and led by young people invested in the progression of Mississippi. They do this through programming and outreach strategies that empower young people, encourage civic engagement, and educate communities on voting rights through place-based grassroots organizing.
Check back soon for updates on our work in Mississippi
The premier front for some of the most consequential labor battles in modern American history, West Virginia spent decades defined by proud populism, a distinct economic identity, and a deeply rural livelihood. But its rightward turn has been stark. Hollowed out political infrastructure has left progressives largely hamstrung in efforts to address the impact of the generational decline of the steel and coal industries on policy, politics, and public opinion in the state.
The only way to build back depleted trust is a coordinated, sustained, and several-cycle deep-canvassing effort, led by trusted, local community members, to persuade voters who have lost faith that a progressive future will benefit them and their loved ones.
A growing organizing ecosystem on the ground is ripe for additional investment as it begins to implement smart and sustainable strategies. From expanding 501c3 and 501c4 civic engagement tables to an energetic populist coalition, we see a rising generation of leadership who will change the trajectory of the state if they can secure the resources to do the work.
IN WEST VIRGINIA, GROUNDWORK PROJECT WILL:
Invest in the local organizers on the ground who are working year-round to engage and educate voters, rebuild progressive infrastructure, and improve the lives of West Virginia families.
Support efforts to execute a year-round, likely decade-long voter engagement strategy to understand, communicate with, and persuade voters who have lost faith.
Partner with organizers, activists, local leaders, and everyday voters in the frontline fights over West Virginia's future, from voting rights to labor rights to economic justice.
west virginia grantees
West Virginia Can't Wait
Location: Charleston, West Virginia
Executive Director: Katey Lauer & Stephen Smith
WV Can't Wait is a movement to win a people's government in the Mountain State. In three years time, WV Can't Wait has built the largest electoral organizing infrastructure the state has seen in decades. With county teams in all but one of the 55 counties, 39 constituency groups representing seniors, veterans, and more, and 107 candidates running under the WV Can't Wait banner, this movement is fighting for a West Virginia that works for everyone.
For West Virginia's Future
FWVF is building a powerful and permanent social change movement in West Virginia. They believe elected officials must do more to increase economic opportunity and security for West Virginians by supporting bold policies and programs that are loyal to Mountain State values.
Check back soon for updates on our work in West Virginia
While not an official focus state, the work begins at home. Groundwork Project will always be doing the work in Massachusetts!
To the outside, Massachusetts may appear to be an improbable fit for Groundwork's mission. With its liberal reputation and wealth of progressive representation, it's easy to assume that our state lacks little when it comes to blue infrastructure, coalitions and capacity. That reality is much more complicated and reveals a state wrestling with profound racial, social, economic and political disparities.
Consider this: This past election cycle, wealthy, white suburbs around Boston saw voter turnout hovering as high as 90 percent. Meanwhile communities of color and Gateway Cities saw two-thirds of that, at best. In 2018, people of color made up nearly 20 percent of eligible voters, but cast only around 10 percent of all ballots - a power gap of nearly 50 percent.
We believe that dramatic investment in community organizing is the only way for Massachusetts to address this systemic divide in political power and build a Commonwealth that is as inclusive, representative and innovative as its reputation leads the nation to believe.
IN MASSACHUSETTS, GROUNDWORK PROJECT WILL:
Invest in the grassroots organizers and hyperlocal organizations working to increase civic engagement and build political power in Gateway Cities and communities of color across MA.
Support efforts to execute year-round voter engagement strategies in order to address the profound disparities that plague our progressive state.
Partner with the organizers, activists, and civic leaders working to build strong and equitable civic infrastructure and increase representation at every level of government.
Location: Statewide, Massachusetts
Conveners: Massachusetts Voter Table & MassVOTE
The Democracy HUBS are a group of six community organizing collectives across Massachusetts dedicated to tackling our state's pervasive economic, racial, and social disparities by building civic power in BIPOC and working-class communities.