2019 Strategic Framework

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There are myriad organizations working in the political reform and democracy revitalization space. Most of these organizations have traditionally worked independently of one another, achieving various levels of success or, far too often, experiencing a frustrating lack of effectiveness in creating  systemic solutions. It is now widely understood that for maximum effectiveness and productivity, these organizations must work together to boost efficiency in order to leverage funding and impact.

The Bridge Alliance is a coalition of more than 90 organizations working together as active stewards of our democratic republic. Bridge Alliance member organizations span the ideological spectrum, but are unified to work efficiently, outside arbitrarily defined political lines. Currently, we define the work of our members as residing in three sectors:

  1. Civic Engagement
  2. Electoral Systems and Campaigns
  3. Governance and Policy Making

Within each sector, members specialize in one or more segments of work. Individually, these organizations do noble work. Together, these organizations are a democracy ecosystem (field) that is the backbone of a transformative cross-partisan movement. This movement is timely and crucial, so we may halt the corrosive effects and reverse the national antagonism that permeates our social and political processes.

The cross-partisan community seeks to bridge traditional political and cultural divides. We honor open minded political debate, value fresh ideas and political innovation and are committed to working together to advance evidence-based solutions to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Simply stated, we put country before party so our government works more effectively for “We The People.”    

Bridge Alliance Infrastructure Plan

The Bridge Alliance’s mission is to provide backbone support and services to the democracy ecosystem and advance the cross-partisan movement. Collectively, we are building the constituency that will maximize collaborative outcomes. The Bridge Alliance nurtures consistent and open communications between the many Bridge Alliance members, developing a foundation of trust and assuring mutual objectives while creating actionable influence. The Bridge Alliance and Bridge Alliance Education Fund foster a greater shared identity, fortifying the organizations and individuals dedicated to collaborative civic problem solving and public policy innovation.  

Bridge Alliance Strategic Framework Areas

  • Member convenings; fortifying community identity
  • Member education, knowledge & resource sharing, best practices

Bridge Alliance Education Fund Strategic Framework Areas

  • Media - exposure and promotion through traditional and social media
  • Signature projects
  • Financial support (collaborations)

1. Member conferences; fortifying community identity

Bridge Alliance members consistently express their need and desire for focused, strategic convenings (conferences and working sessions).

The convenings will be focused on specific outcomes and goals and will feature deliberately diverse participants and presenters. We will support action-oriented events in which our members — who are experts in their own right — share ideas, deepen relationships and develop collaborative work in complementary ways. As in the past, we will include potential funders, thought/action leaders, and journalists at our convenings.

We are scheduling ongoing sector meetings (for members working on similar issues) throughout the year plus one annual “state of the Alliance” full member meeting.  

We amplify the outcomes of the convenings; highlighting successes of our members. With proper funding the Bridge Alliance will also offer sponsorships and participation to out-of-sector members for these convenings to encourage cross-sector alignment leading to meaningful collaborative actions.

In the Fall of 2018, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund held its annual convening in Washington, D.C. The report developed from the event can be viewed here.

2. Member education, knowledge sharing, best practices

The Bridge Alliance’s operational strategy is focused on building and supporting the democracy field, which was previously an unaffiliated and often competitive group of organizations. Our success has resulted in our members understanding more about each other; collaborating more frequently while learning what works and how to improve the collaborative methodology. Perhaps most importantly, these bonds of trust and friendship are infectious and lead to growth and expansion of impact from Bridge Alliance membership.

As stated by one of our leaders:

The Bridge Alliance is not just about networking and resource sharing, but fostering true collaboration among its members organizations. Established to facilitate collective action, it supports its members in coming together to more effectively and efficiently reach shared goals. A key strength of the Alliance is how it works to lift up its members.”

Because our staff is in constant communication with our members via 1-on-1 calls, we have a unique vantage point that provides us with agility to adjust knowledge sharing and convenings based on the current needs and circumstances of our members. And beginning in 2019, we will also have experts presenting webinars focused on capacity building and skills development amongst our members.

Our members have specifically requested the Bridge Alliance’s help in promoting those members as speakers and panelists to outside organizations. They also lament that there are far too many national events about which they are unaware. Finally, they count on the Bridge Alliance’s networking and connectivity with event conveners to serve as a connection in suggesting members as expert and keynote speakers.

3. Media; traditional & social

Sharing the expertise of Bridge Alliance leaders with the world

A key ingredient to capacity building includes providing media attention highlighting the work and accomplishments of our members. Despite the many noteworthy achievements in reforming and revitalizing our political process, too few Americans know there is a cohesive, organized movement in-process. This must change, to demonstrate that there is an alternative for those who’ve grown weary of the party-first, establishment quo paradigm.

Bridge Alliance Education Fund staff receive background requests from reporters. We look forward to the pace of these requests increasing so our members will achieve more mainstream media attention.

In Spring 2019, we will amplify the work and measurable outcomes of our members and partners through a new, first-of-its-kind digital publication, The Firewall, which we have co-sponsored. This media project will transcend the intentionally divisive, rampant negativity in traditional and contemporary media channels, targeting the vast audience of our fellow citizens who crave honesty, journalistic integrity, nonpartisan reform solutions, and positivity. Of course, The Firewall maintains their journalistic standards and neither the Bridge Alliance nor the Bridge Alliance Education Fund will control what is reported.

4. Signature Projects  

We host and facilitate projects and events that require an umbrella organization to maximize collaborative opportunities. We learned valuable information during the National Week of Conversation (NWOC) in April 2018. This inaugural one week event was a perfect example of the “New Power” that will define so much of what the Bridge Alliance does. Utilizing the Giving Tuesday Model, the Bridge Alliance served as a trusted resource, an effective connector and a powerful mobilizer. Yet NWOC developed a sustainable model from the bottom up with:

  • A limited budget run by volunteers
  • 130 engaged organizations hosting 120 public conversations and countless private conversations
  • Participation in 32 states
  • Online Twitter and Instagram #NWOC posts, which were seen by 1.3 million uniques users.

The 2nd NWOC event is scheduled for April 2019 and is being run entirely by one of our members.

List of Bridge Alliance Education Fund Signature Projects:

  • Diversity and Opportunity Task Force is exploring what opportunities within the democracy field best ensure representation of all Americans. There is currently a need for people of color, youth voices and participation of more conservatives within the democracy ecosystem. Once research is complete, we will share the findings and explore recommendations to create actionable programs to advance diversity and opportunity.  
  • Social Media Working Group is focused on a collective action project that could:
    • Strengthen and advance democratic ideals through the creation of powerful viral virtuous messaging campaigns by using the same algorithms employed by those who divide us
    • Engage and activate a vast community of cross-partisan constituents
    • Study regional cross-partisan success stories and experiment with targeted strategies in various locales
    • Leverage the 3.5 million followers among Bridge Alliance members for collective social media campaigns
  • Outline for Healthy Self-governance is the sum total of the work in the democracy field, distilled into a single document for examination and discussion among the movement itself, as well as the public. This document provides an overview of the democracy ecosystem and combines the civic engagement, policy and issue work of the many unique organizations and funders working within the field. The document will also be a useful tool in helping the democracy field “see” complementary work that contributes to their own work, bringing more connectivity to the movement.
  • The Civvys celebrates partnerships that strengthen America. In its second year, the American Civic Collaboration Awards highlighted outstanding efforts of civic collaboration making impacts in local, national and youth communities. Recipients and finalists were celebrated at the National Conference on Citizenship in October 2018. The Civvys celebrate best practices in civic collaboration that put community and nation before party, ideology, and narrow political interests. Since 2018 was an election year, the 2018 Civvys included a new category - Political - focusing on campaigns and leaders that make collaboration and civility a core part of their message and conduct

Civvys Award categories:

    • National: These projects are nationwide in scope and audience.
    • Local: These projects are designed to serve a local, state or regional community.
    • Youth: These projects have a focus on children, teenagers or young adults.
    • Political: These are campaigns, cases of collaborative leadership or election races.

5. Financial support (collaborations) *

As part of our integration and awareness of what our members are working on and what is happening in the democracy ecosystem, the Bridge Alliance is positioned to offer insights to funders as to existing or potential projects worthy of investment. In conjunction with our members, we have developed a “Marketplace of Ideas” of existing and potential projects to “fill the gaps.”  While this is not a primary focus of our 2019 efforts, it is a logical step in our evolution, since it is a key capacity building service often requested by our members. Thus, as the Bridge Alliance and the Bridge Alliance Education Fund grow, we will target and financially support promising collaborations.

Conclusion

Challenging times call for big thinking, bold action and a more tightly knit community to address the complex issues we face. We, the BA & BAEF, are called to steward and connect good ideas to meet the challenge. No one organization is big enough to do it alone. But together we are the conditions where citizens, as part of their everyday lives, engage in our experiment of healthy self-governance. This will allow democracy to thrive as never before in the United States.

Success will be defined by whether we as system leaders can and will look beyond our own comfortable roles, individual egos, individual organizations and mind-sets. If we remain separate we will have some successes, but we will flounder and never achieve the real impact we all desire. We must foster collective leadership and continue moving from theory to reality.