Updated: Mar 2
From motley student network to a national nonprofit organization, Bluebonnet grew its nationwide network of fellows and campaigns to cover races ranging from school board to US Senate. Read about our 2019 progress and goals for 2020.
2019: Year in Review
Last year was equally busy and exciting for all of us at Bluebonnet Data. We grew from a motley student network to a national nonprofit organization, with Bluebonnet fellows from college campuses and cities across the country working with partner campaigns ranging from school board to US Senate. We also:
Incorporated as a nonprofit in Washington, DC and Massachusetts.
Hired two full-time staff members: Becca Blais and Paul Dingus.
Worked with more than ten Democratic campaign teams in 2019.
Collaborated with other leading progressive groups to provide political technology and data trainings in preparation for 2020.
Needless to say, Bluebonnet Data also served as an incubator for new political tech talent. Bluebonnet fellows from the past year have gone on to launch a turf-cutting app, join noteworthy political tech companies, and become state data directors for presidential campaigns. Through both our graduates and our growing network, we are constantly increasing our ability to facilitate talented and motivated people finding their place in politics.
After some trial and error, we believe we found the right formula for building strong volunteer data teams. Bluebonnet teams consist of three to five fellows, with a Team Lead serving in a coordinating role. We require a minimum weekly commitment of 5 hours from our fellows, and 30 minutes to 1 hour from partner campaigns. Fellows are trained on how to work with current campaign technology platforms and utilize their skills in coding and data science to calculate votes to win, build voter universes, integrate census and other public data, and much more. Teams balance political and technical knowledge, and as fellows gain experience, they are invited to apply to become Team Leads for new campaigns.
In addition to our fellowship serving as an amazing opportunity for students and young professionals, we’ve seen just how much impact our volunteer teams can make on under-resourced campaigns. Barbara Miller, a campaign manager for several local races in Florida, is working with three different Bluebonnet teams, saying:
“We appreciate all you do and are trying to do for our down-ballot campaigns. Good data is essential to winning, because with limited resources we can't afford to waste any time or money!”
Most importantly, we owe Bluebonnet’s success this past year to all the people who have devoted their time and talents to our shared mission of bringing young people into the political tech space and making data analytics accessible to down-ballot campaigns. Thank you to our fellows, whose commitment and passion powers each Bluebonnet team, to our partner campaigns, who have incorporated our fellows’ skills into their strategy, and to the many friends and mentors that have been so generous in launching this organization. It takes a lot of effort to get a nonprofit off the ground, but your help has made our progress over the past year and continued success possible!
2020: Looking Ahead
Bluebonnet Data is now fully focused on making an impact in 2020. Today, we already have nearly 40 active Bluebonnet fellows working with campaigns in key states, including Florida, Maine, Texas, and Ohio.
But we want to aim higher. That’s why this election cycle, our goal is to help 100 down-ballot campaigns by training and deploying at least 300 Bluebonnet fellows.
As part of our growing fellowship program, we are designing new trainings, webinars, and resources to complement our existing modules and to bolster our learning opportunities and curriculum. More robust trainings will help support every aspect of our mission: we will enable our fellows to better support campaigns, offer an even more attractive program for potential applicants, and produce more skilled and capable graduates, bolstering and strengthening our alumni network. The trainings will cover modern data science methods, political and campaign strategy, technical project management, and political technologies.
Being a nonprofit talent pipeline has positioned us to also be hub for other progressive causes and organizations. We are looking forward to strengthening current partnerships and building new ones in 2020. By collaborating and strategically sharing resources, we can build a stronger Democratic ecosystem that will lift the entire field in the years to come.
To establish our message and recruiting presence at key colleges and universities, we will be looking to create Bluebonnet Data chapters on campuses. We are currently growing foundational relationships with multiple campuses, including Brown, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Rice, Stanford, UNC, and the University of Michigan, among others. These chapters will allow us to secure a process for students with technical skills to get involved in the political process.
Lastly, we will expand our offerings to Bluebonnet fellows by sharing full-time job opportunities with fellows who are graduating in the spring, taking time off in the fall, or are willing to work full-time for a 2020 Democratic campaign. After learning from our training and the experience of working on a Bluebonnet team, fellows will be qualified and prepared to make an immediate impact in 2020 campaigns across the country and remain in the field of Democratic politics beyond this critical election year.