At A Time of Rising Gun Violence, Demand a Seat Will Invest $3 Million in Recruiting and Training Hundreds of Grassroots Volunteers to Run on Gun Safety
New Initiative Will Provide Educational Training with Campaign Experts and Mentorship Opportunities to Volunteers Interested in Running for Office or Working on Campaigns
Since Its Founding, More Than 80 Former Moms Demand Action Volunteers Have Been Elected to Public Office — Including Over 40 in 2020
NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund and Everytown’s grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, today announced the launch of Demand a Seat, a bipartisan national program to recruit and train grassroots volunteers and gun violence survivors to run for elected office and work on campaigns. The program will train at least 200 grassroots volunteers to run for office during the 2021-2022 cycle and invest at least $3 million in training through 2024. Everytown organizations may also provide support to candidates where possible, including making campaign contributions.
The new program is open to volunteers interested in running for office or working on campaigns at all levels, including down-ballot races. So far in 2021, more than 30 gun safety policies have been passed in states around the country. Demand a Seat will harness the grassroots momentum and volunteer base of one of the largest advocacy organizations in the country to recruit and train volunteers to take the next step in their advocacy by running for office on a platform of gun safety. Demand a Seat will provide educational training on how to build and run winning campaigns as a gun safety candidate. By connecting with officials Everytown and Moms Demand Action volunteers have helped elect across the country, the program will also create networking and mentoring opportunities, including with elected officials and seasoned campaign veterans, that will serve as a resource to program participants as they navigate the electoral process.
Participants will receive educational training from high-profile expert faculty such as former volunteer and current Georgia Congresswoman Lucy McBath, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, former Florida Congressman David Jolly, and campaign veterans Addisu Demissie and Nicole Derse. Current and former volunteers who are elected officials will also serve as expert faculty for the program, including: Jo Ella Hoye, Kansas State Representative; Rachel Friend, Boulder Colorado City Council; Linda Cavazos, President, Clark County School Board of Trustees (Nevada); and Aaron Marquez, Phoenix School Board.
“Since the beginning of Moms Demand Action, our volunteers have fought to get a seat at the table, support lawmakers who are doing the right thing, and replace those who are standing in the way of gun safety,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The more we’ve worked and grown, the more often that has meant filling those seats with our own volunteers. Demand a Seat formalizes this evolution and will provide education and guidance to help these leaders take that next step from advocating to writing laws.”
“Our volunteers are already political and legislative experts, and we’re going to help them go from advocating for gun safety laws to writing them,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This program will help hundreds of gun safety advocates get their foot on the political ladder, starting with local office and ending with them writing state or even national laws.”
Moms Demand Action volunteers have been running on gun safety and winning for years. In 2020, 43 Moms Demand Action volunteers turned candidates won their races. To date, 50 former volunteers with Moms Demand Action have been elected to state legislatures, 18 have been elected to city or county councils, and eight have been elected to school boards, among other offices. Additionally, former Moms Demand Action volunteers Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06) and Rep. Marie Newman (IL-03) are now members of Congress.
“After my son Jordan’s life was stolen by gun violence, I began working with Everytown and Moms Demand Action to fight to end gun violence so no other parent would have to endure the same pain that I did,” said Congresswoman Lucy McBath, a former Moms Demand Action volunteer. “When I answered the call to run for Congress, I was able to lean on the incredible network of support and utilize the skills I developed over the years as an advocate to ultimately win my election, and now I get to continue that work in the halls of Congress.”
“After I got involved with Moms Demand Action and started to see progress on gun safety in Kansas, I realized that it makes a difference when moms make their voices heard in Topeka,” said Jo Ella Hoye, Kansas State Representative and former Moms Demand Action volunteer. “I was prepared to make the jump to run for office and win thanks to the investments that Moms Demand Action made in training and empowering its grassroots volunteers like me. My experience as an advocate helped me become a successful legislator and continue the fight to end gun violence.”
Demand a Seat is open to current Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors interested in learning more about running for office. Demand a Seat trainings will begin in the fall of 2021, following Everytown’s annual Gun Sense University in August. Grassroots volunteers currently receive training on effective advocacy, and this new program will provide more in-depth educational training on running and winning on gun safety.
With chapters in all 50 states and more than 6 million supporters across the country, the bench of potential Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action candidates is deep, and Demand a Seat participants will create a powerful network of support throughout the country.
Learn more about this program at DemandaSeat.org.