The Weekly Update Newsletter

Democracy Fund Announcement

Posted by on June 26, 2017

Friend -

We are proud to announce that the Bridge Alliance Action Grant (formerly collective impact) program has recently received a grant from the Democracy Fund of $90,000 in support of three projects undertaken by Alliance members in which the Bridge Alliance plans to invest.

Betsy Wright Hawkings, Director of the Democracy Fund’s Governance Program, said, “This action-oriented grant to the Bridge Alliance will facilitate partnerships and collaboration between organizations working to promote more effective governance.  It will help alliance members build civility, bipartisan relationships and responsible governance at the state level. Together, the groups convened by Bridge Alliance aim to reduce polarization and promote good governance, starting at the state level and building up to Congress.” 

We are hopeful that this validation of our efforts from Democracy Fund, an organization who “invests in organizations to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people”, will catalyze our efforts to institute round 2 of Bridge Action Grants. 

We have learned much from the round 1 process consisting of 11 grants totaling about $600,000 to Bridge Alliance members.  From this knowledge base we hope to develop a methodology that enhances the impact of future Bridge Action Grants. 

We thank the Democracy Fund, and we thank all Bridge Alliance members for their support in helping us advance our mission to develop and grow the shared identity of the Bridge Alliance network, to strengthen our individual missions to revitalize democratic practice in America.

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Members In The News:
icitizen - Metro
National Institute for Civil Discourse - Tucson News Now
Centrist Project - 9News



We want your best ideas!

Posted by on June 19, 2017


Bridge Alliance is looking for a great tagline that summarizes what we all stand for. We thought who better to help us than our supporters. Please fill out this google form survey. You can vote for your favorite, or better yet, come up with one of your own. Thank you for your ongoing support. Your opinion matters to us.

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Members In The News:
Millennial Action Project - GQ
National Institute for Civil Discourse - McClatchy
Take Back Our Republic - Albuquerque Journal


Colleges Educate. Students Vote. We Recognize.

Posted by on June 12, 2017


Bridge Alliance member, ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is reclaiming the civic mission of higher education and helping create more active and informed citizens. Zaneeta Danver from The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge recently posted on

"The ALL IN Challenge strives to change civic culture and institutionalize democratic engagement activities and programs on college campuses, making them a defining feature of campus life. Through this initiative, we recognize colleges and universities committed to improving democratic engagement, increasing student voter participation rates, and graduating civically active and informed students. In collaboration with this country’s colleges and universities, we seek to:
  • Make participation in local, state, and federal elections a social norm.
  • Substantially increase the number of college students who are democratically engaged on an ongoing basis—during and between elections, not just at the polls.
  • Make educating for democratic engagement on college campuses an accepted and expected part of the culture and curriculum so that students graduate with the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and values needed to be informed and active citizens.
Since our launch, more than 250 campuses in 40 states and Washington, D.C., have joined the ALL IN Challenge and committed to making democratic participation a core value."

We are proud to have the ALL IN Challenge as our member organization and hope you will support their amazing work. You can read the blog in full here.

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Members In The News
Millennial Action Project - News & Observer
National Institute for Civil Discourse - Daily Camera
Living Room Conversations - San Francisco Examiner


Understanding the other side

Posted by on June 05, 2017


Through Better Angels 15 politically diverse residents of southwest Ohio met for a total of 13 hours in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the "other side". On some issues they agreed to disagree and on other issues like paid parental leave they found considerable common ground. They found that they are less different and less hostile from one another than the media portrays. 

“We say unanimously that real people are more complicated and appealing than the stereotypes we have of them.”

Read more here to see the groups individual commitments, proposed group commitments, and proposed community-wide commitments. 

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Members In The News:
Essential Partners - Three Wise Guys Radio
TheChisel - PR Underground
Millennial Action Project - Florida Politics


Member Accomplishments

Posted by on May 22, 2017

Friend - 

We recently asked our member organizations to let us know about some their accomplishments in the last year and their goals for the year ahead. We are thrilled to share with you what some had to say.

Congressional Management Foundation 
Conducted 57 training sessions for more than 250 congressional offices involving 1,180 congressional staff on topics including: management, writing, dealing with difficult constituents, conducting better meetings, etc.
Goals: Launch Democracy Awards (under a grant from Bridge Alliance), a new program to highlight innovation, customer service, and transparency in congressional offices.

In 2016, iCivics exceeded all expectations for growth and impact: 150,000 teachers across the United States use iCivics. Over 5 million students benefitted from our resources! And young people played our games 7.5 million times last year alone.
Goals: Our strategic goals for 2017 and the next 4 years are ambitious: we must expand our reach to 10 million students per year; deepen our impact on students' ties to literacy and civic engagement; build demand for good civic education at the state level; and develop models for financial sustainability.

Healthy Democracy
Implemented three Citizens' Initiatives reviews on statewide ballot measures in Oregon, Arizona and Massachusetts. Set up a CIR demonstration in California on one of the most expensive ballot measures in the state's history.
Goals: Continue national expansion of CIR to new states and local jurisdictions to implement in 2018. Offer a variety of skills-building and relationship-building programs to promote effective citizen engagement and deliberation. Partner with high schools to offer CIR model curriculum for civics education enhancement. Build out social media presence to enhance impact of CIRs in states without access to voter's guides.

We have received many responses to our survey and will continue to send out emails about them!

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Member In The News:
State Legislative Leaders Foundation -
The Davenport Institute -
National Foundation for Women Legislators - The Signal

Nonpartisan Hygiene: 6 Tips to Stay Squeaky Clean

Posted by on May 15, 2017


Bridge Alliance member Healthy Democracy, developer of the Citizens' Initiative Review, recently published Nonpartisan Hygiene: 6 Tips to Stay Squeaky Clean - and Effective. Healthy Democracy drew upon an internal audit of it's own activities and response plans to lay out six tips for organizations to preserve their nonpartisan credibility--the most valuable asset to a nonpartisan organization. This guide is designed for both nonpartisan and bipartisan groups, and should be of interest to many of our member organizations.

Bridge Alliance is inviting our audience to send us blog submissions and other items of interest for political bridge builders. We want to showcase innovative ideas and bolster organizations/individuals doing great work. Content is always appreciated!

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Members In The News:
Charter for Compassion - Commons News
Essential Partners - Cody Enterprise
Open Primaries - LA Progressive

Open Primaries

Posted by on May 08, 2017


One of our Bridge Alliance members, Open Primaries, has gotten much deserved press from news and media outlets in the past few months. Open Primaries advocates for open and nonpartisan primary systems, counters efforts to impose closed primaries, and educates voters. 

Here are a few recent mentions:
The Disillusioned American Voter - DAME
"Opdycke’s organization is setting its sights on primary reform by helping to increase competition among all parties, particularly in places where the incumbent runs unchallenged by a “token” member of the opposite party. In the new system his organization is working to make happen, you’d get not just two Democrats facing off, but “you get a Democrat and a Green, or a Democrat and a Peace and Freedom member. So you end up with a November election that is actually competitive where the two most popular candidates, they'll have a base and a set of issues that resonate,” Opdycke says."

Open primaries are the answer to America’s election woes — so what are we waiting for? - The Hill
"The issue of open primaries is not a Democratic Party issue. It is not a Republican Party issue. It is an American issue that goes back to our 'no taxation without representation' roots."

Open Primaries President John Opdycke on Boston Herald Radio Morning Meeting
John Opdycke makes a strong case for Open Primaries during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. Listen to John take an emphatic stand for democracy, in what host Hillary Chabot called a "truly great radio" segment.

We would also like to welcome our newest member - Center for Civic Design!
The Center for Civic Design works to ensure voter intent. Their goal is to make every interaction between government and citizens easy, effective, and pleasant. We encourage you to read more about the great work they do.

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Members In The News:
Generation Citizen - News9
National Institute for Civil Discourse - The Daily Wildcat
Charter for Compassion - Insider Louisville 

Bridge Summit recap

Posted by on May 01, 2017



Last Saturday, Bridge Alliance members and guests gathered in the debate chamber at the beautiful holdings of Crow real estate. The surroundings edified our meeting as we heard from panelists, worked in breakout groups and enjoyed fellowship.

From the meeting, we are developing three proposals for collective impact funding.

  • The governance in policy making group developed a marshall plan for coal country. A concept that is currently in further development.
  • The civic engagement group developed an overarching media narrative plan that would fortify efforts by each individual Bridge Alliance member and other groups.
  • The campaigns and elections group worked on four separate plans, experimenting to find the biggest lever to shift power back to the people.

Read more

NICD reports impact

Posted by on April 24, 2017


Early 2017 was a busy quarter for Bridge Alliance member, National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD).  We share with you a small selection of their Quarterly Impact Report to both recognize NICD’s work and increase awareness of political reform work in it’s various guises.

NICD Highlights, January to March 2017:

  • Community Conversations - NICD is hosting community conversations in Maine, Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona using their toolkit (organizing guides, start-up guides and participant discussion guides) and providing NICD training.
  • TTRC&R - By texting “CIVILITY” to 89800, people who have gathered in groups of 3-4 can receive a series of text messages that guide their group through conversation.
  • Mayor led - Since August 2016 a dedicated group of volunteers in Tucson, Arizona have been meeting to organize activities to bring civility to the forefront of conversation in Tucson. In January, 2017 the Mayor, Jonathan Rothschild, wrote a proclamation announcing May as Civility Month in Tucson. Launch of the initiative will be held at the Loft Cinema, an independent theater and center of community activities, on April 20, 2017.
  • State legislatures - NICD is working with two state legislatures to engage with elected officials before they reach the nation’s capital. Through workshops, legislators are provided with an opportunity to explore the benefits of improving civil discourse in their state’s legislature and more effectively working across the aisle.
    • In Minnesota, legislators are implementing the action plan created in the workshop and have committed to maintaining close communication with legislative leadership. Legislators are reaching out to their local communities on the need for civil discourse.
    • In Oregon, Senate President Peter Courtney gave exceptional praise to the Political Journey exercise, emphasizing the importance of sharing personal stories. He said that throughout his political career he has seen personal stories make a significant impact on the behavior of Senate members. 

We applaud NICD and look forward to sharing more impact stories from our members with you.  

What have you been up to? Let us know and we’ll feature your organization.

The Bridge Alliance Team

Bridge Alliance Members In The News:
iCivics-The Hechinger Report
Illinois Humanities-Daily Herald
American Democracy Project-Blasting News

Unrig the System

Posted by on April 17, 2017


The Bridge Alliance joined the Independent Voter Project, The Centrist Project, Represent.Us, FairVote and Level The Playing Field to host a summit in Kansas City that included a list of influential people trying to "Unrig the System."  The focus of the summit was to talk about how we all can amplify our collective efforts and challenge the political establishment that resists competition and structural changes. 

The event included panels and breakout sessions with nonpartisan leaders that have been driving reform efforts like Ranked Choice Voting in Maine, Open Primaries in Colorado, anti-corruption bills in South Dakota, and several other efforts nationwide. The commonality of all these groups is a desire to challenge both sides of the political aisle and improve representative accountability for everyone, regardless of ideology.

The mission of Bridge Alliance is complimentary to these efforts, and together with you, we look forward to putting together the mechanisms for more collaboration in the reform "industry." 

Bridge Alliance

Bridge Alliance Members In The News:
National Institute for Civil Discourse-University of San Diego
The Davenport Institute & Healthy Democracy-Fox & Hounds
Millennial Action Project-Charlottesville Tomorrow