Newsletter: We’ve got our sights on 2016 + we need your help

October is off to a solid start as a month of client building and 2016 planning for us here at Polithon. We closed out September with a great event in Florida and are working toward another event in Texas, while in talks with others for the end of this year/early next. As always, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest!

Florida Student Association: On September 26 and 27, our fearless leader, Julia Hurley, was down in Tallahassee, Florida, at Florida A&M University facilitating a polithon at the invitation of the Florida Student Association on student debt in the state. Over the course of a day and a half, 23 student government representatives from 8 public universities across Florida came together and crafted a detailed outline of policy prescriptions on student debt. They were assisted by experts from the Lumina FoundationFlorida College Access Network and Postsecondary Analytics, and focused mainly on reforming and increasing access to financial aid, increasing financial literacy, and ensuring timely degree completion. The first draft is off to experts for feedback before being developed into a full policy paper. Next, with the support of Young Invincibles, FSA will be advocating for the adoption of their solutions – and they’ve already gotten some interest….

Ohio results are in…: Did you catch our blog post on the results from our Ohio Polithon at Ohio State University in June? While it may not have been perfect, we were really happy with the outcome and the dedication of the participants. Check out what they came up with and what’s next for OH on the website!

Upcoming Polithons:

  • National Women’s Business Council, DC, December/Early 2016: After a few slight delays, we’re working to reschedule the NWBC Polithon for December or Early 2016 and should have lots more details after the first week of November.
  • Texas, November: Polithon + YI-South have teamed up to run a student debt focused polithon in Houston sometime in November. As soon as we firm up venue, we’ll have a concrete date and more info. Check out the website for more details and the application! 
Don’t just sit there, DO something!
As always, we appreciate your help and are putting out some calls to action:
  • Connections: We’re actively seeking out to clients to set up Polithon’s schedule for 2016 and we’d love your help! Do you have a connection to an existing advocacy organization, government agency, or company that is looking to better engage young people in policy? Or one that wants to bring more voices to the conversation on a specific issue? Put us in touch! Email Julia (julia@polithon.org) or Evanna (evanna@polithon.org) and make a connection to help expand our reach.
  • Donations: As you know, no organization can run without funding and while we’re focused on a sustainable, revenue generating model for Polithon, as we build that out, we still need your support. We’re seeking event specific funding in TX as well as general operating funds. Help us give our generation a voice in policymaking and invest in change!

Onward,
Julia + Evanna

More polithons on the horizon….get ready for an exciting couple of months!

There’s some serious wind in Polithon’s sails heading into August after establishing Polithon Labs, LLC (our for-profit arm), partnering with the National Women’s Business Council, and gearing up to run polithons in Texas, Florida, and Washington, DC, between now and October! There’s lots more on the horizon too, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up!

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Polithon Labs, LLC: Knowing how challenging fundraising can be and recognizing that we want a sustainable growth model, Polithon has established Polithon Labs, our for-profit arm. It will focus on consulting for clients using the polithon model to help them come up with innovative solutions to an issue they’ve identified; turning discussions and venting sessions into actionable solution development. Polithon Labs will remain mission driven. We’re not selling out, working primarily with clients that support our broader goal of increasing civic engagement among millennials while giving our generation a voice in policy making.

Upcoming Polithons:

  • Florida Student Association, September: Still ironing out details, but this will be a closed event for student government representatives in FL following an advocacy training with Young Invincibles.
  • National Women’s Business Council, DC, October: Our first polithon under Polithon Labs, the event will focus on student debt as a barrier to entrepreneurship.
  • Texas, October 24-25: Polithon + YI-South have teamed up to run a student debt focused polithon in Houston in late October. Check out the website for more details and the application!
  • California, POSTPONED: Sadly, due to scheduling challenges, we’ve had to postpone the California Polithon until later in 2015. We’ll send more info as soon as we have it, but in the meantime, let us know if you’d like to help organize.

Make Progress: It was a marathon of a Thursday at Generation Progress’ Make Progress Summit on July 16th. Polithon was proud to sponsor this great event where we were able to connect with millennial leaders excited about our model and wanting to support our work. We also got a chance to meet Analiese Eicher, Program + Development Director at One Wisconsin Now, an organization taking the lead on student debt in the state, and CT State Rep. Matt Lesser, a student debt warrior in a state seriously stricken by the issue. As a result of the Summit, we also connected with the offices of (millennial!) Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), both enthusiastic about our model for change.

ICYMI: Polithon was a featured guest on a #MillennialMon Twitter chat hosted byYoung Invincibles on #studentdebt alongside TICASGeneration Progress, and many more working in this space. MM-July-13


GETTING INVOLVED
As always, we love your help and are putting out some calls to action:

  • Donations: As you know, no organization can run without funding and while we’ve established our LLC to support a revenue generating option for Polithon, as we build that out, we still need your support. We’re seeking event specific funding in TX as well as general operating funds. Help us give our generation a voice in policymaking and invest in change!
  • Applications: Help spread the word about upcoming polithons! We’re seeking dedicated Millennials between 20 and 40 who are passionate about changing policy to apply to participate as PolicyDisruptors and shape policy during our polithons – TX application now up!
  • Run a polithon: If you’re interested in bringing Polithon to tackle a policy issue in your community, city, or state, let us know! We’d love to work with you!

Onward!

Julia + Evanna

The “summer slowdown” isn’t stopping us

 

Love won, the US women’s national soccer team won, and Polithon keeps on rolling! What a great last few weeks to be an American. This month, our judges are reviewing the solutions to student debt proposed at our Ohio Polithon, we’ll be attending the annual Make Progress National Summit, and we’re looking toward longer term strategic planning while establishing a firm revenue model. With this and more on our plate, July is looking good!

Ohio Polithon Debrief: Thanks to our Policy Disruptors’ enthusiasm and drive, our gracious hosts, Ohio State University, and our partners, the Ohio Polithon was a success! We have uploaded pictures of the event to Facebook, and our judges are now reviewing the Policy Disruptors’ solutions to student debt in Ohio. We’ll also be starting major discussions with partners and PDs on the campaign for those solutions next week. Especially the first time around, the advocacy effort will require significant collaboration. If you’re interested in supporting our efforts in Ohio, please let us know by sending us an e-mail.

Partnerships: Polithon is proud to be partnering with Generation Progress on their 10th annual Make Progress Summit in Washington, DC, on July 16. This will be an amazing opportunity to connect with passionate millennials, policy wonks, activists, advocates, and lawmakers, and we’d love for you to join us. RSVP here.

Upcoming Polithons: We’ve had some challenges finding partners in NH + IA, but given all the focus on those states for 2016, we’re not surprised! For now, our CA Polithon is slated for September 26, though we are still working out the kinks with our venue at UC Berkeley. After consulting with our friends at Young Invincibles and a few other millennial/issue focused orgs, we are looking into co-hosting events in FL, IL, and elsewhere. We’ll provide more information as it comes in, so stay tuned!

Other Items: With no Polithons slated for July, we’ll be going back to the drawing board to brainstorm more ways to expand Polithon’s reach and better advance our mission of empowering millennials to be part of the policymaking process. This strategic planning will coincide with a concerted search for business partnerships and donors, and finalization of our board. Keep an eye on our website, Twitter, and Facebook for more info.

Blog: Be sure to check out a new blog post from our Operations Assistant, Abraham Fraifeld, a rising junior at Georgetown University. He discusses the impact of frustration on political participation and how to channel that “negative” energy to mobilize voters and bring about change.

GETTING INVOLVED

As always, we love your help and are putting out some calls to action:

  • Make Progress Summit: Spread the word about the Make Progress Summit July 16 + join us for what should be an amazing day!
  • Donations: As you know, no organization can run without funding and while we’re seeking longer term solutions and exploring a revenue model to ensure sustainability, we need your support. Support us, and invest in change here!
  • The Blog: We’ve already posted pieces from us, our interns, and other contributors on what we’re doing, lessons we’re learning, and why Polithon matters in the scheme of things, and will be adding much more. We love outside contributions, so email if you’re interested!

Julia + Evanna

Springing Forward: Updated website, new video, + more!

We’ve been more radio silent than planned, but that’s because we’ve been head-down, working as hard as we can to bring Polithon fully to life and begin to change the way policy is made in this country. Thanks for your patience and continued support as we go through the growing pains of going from an idea to a full-fledged organization. We couldn’t do this without you!

Over the last month, we updated the website to be more user-friendly (with some graphics still on their way) and had an awesome communications advisor, Irene Moskowitz, help develop stronger materials to get our message out, including this fantastic introduction video to Polithon. Please check them out and share!

Upcoming Polithons: Due to a scheduling issue, our Ohio Polithon was postponed to June 20, but is now moving forward! California planning is well under way, and we’re excited to announce a partnership with UC Berkeley to run our event out there August 8th. The application is currently live on the website for ALL of our events, and we’ll add deadlines as we finalize dates.

There has also been one small, but significant, change to the model we’ll be moving ahead with. As part of our effort to learn lessons as we develop, we’ve decided to shift the focus of local Polithons to what can be done on the issue at the state level, while the national Polithon in January of 2016 will bring winning teams from each state together to hack the full national solution. Read more on our blog.

Nonprofit Status: Polithon, like any organization, can’t grow without proper funding. We have been lucky to have Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft’s pro-bono department take us on as clients and handle all of our 501(c)3 nonprofit filings – making our lives a lot easier! This is a process that can take up to a year, so we are currently in talks with two organizations about taking us on for fiscal sponsorship, allowing us to begin to receive tax-deductible donations.

Funding: As we await our nonprofit status, we’ve applied for the Knight Foundation’s NewsChallenge, which divides a $3M prize between winning applicants. The applications are public, so feel free to check out our entry! We’re also accepting donations via PayPal, which will be eligible for tax deduction as soon as we receive our status or finalize an agreement with a fiscal sponsor, so please considercontributing to help us run our events.

Exploring Partnerships: We have been constantly talking with other phenomenal organizations in the millennial/innovation/policy/advocacy space, and are excited by the prospect of working with these groups on various aspects of the Polithon process. Some notable folks that we’ll likely be working with this year and next on outreach or in other capacities include Young Invincibles, Common Sense Action,National Campus Leadership Council, Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, and YouthVoices USA. As a mission driven organization, we’re committed to working with a coalition of groups to ensure impact.


GETTING INVOLVED
As always, we love your help and are putting out some calls to action:

  • Partners: We are still seeking supporters and potential partners, for upcoming Polithons, especially in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Texas, so if you have any connections in those arenas locally, or at the national levels,shoot us a note!
  • Applications: Help spread the word about upcoming Polithons! We’re seeking dedicated Millennials between 20 and 40 who are passionate about changing policy to apply to participate as PolicyDisruptors and shape policy during our Polithons this year.
  • Interns: It’s that time of year again, and we’re seeking summer interns!
  • The Blog: We’ve already posted pieces from us, our interns, and other contributors on what we’re doing, lessons we’re learning, and why Polithon matters in the scheme of things, and will be adding much more. We love outside contributions, so email if you’re interested!

Julia + Evanna

 

Pivot!

Something I’ve learned very quickly as a new entrepreneur is that when something isn’t going right, it either means your target is off or you need to pivot because you’re not going in the right direction – even just a slight bit. As we’ve pressed forward developing Polithon into the organization we want to become, we’ve kept a running list of the problems, pitfalls, and solutions, making sure we’re holding ourselves accountable. We’re calling it our “lessons learned” doc and as things began to not work out as planned with our first anticipated Polithon of 2015 in Ohio, slated originally for this coming weekend, we dug deep to see what needed to shift.

Our original focus was only national – bring together 25 people in five different states, hack a national comprehensive solution through a full weekend hackathon, and then bring the winning team from each state to DC to compromise and come up with a final outcome to be pushed out. We thought we’d start big and then look locally and test the model on both levels separately.SS quote

What we’ve come to find though, is that people are even more eager for a chance to do something locally, especially since it’s tangible and in their own backyard. This also helps us determine where we can have the most impact during the early stages of Polithon as an organization.

So instead of a strictly national focus, we’ll be running Polithons in the same five states as planned – Ohio, California, Iowa, New Hampshire and Texas – but focusing on what the state governments can do to fix the issue. From there, the teams in each state with the best solutions will still be brought to DC in January of 2016 before the first caucuses of the Presidential Election, and hack a solution to the issue at the national level. These local and national outcomes will be developed into a full policy proposal which will be pushed out by local and national partners and acted upon.

This shift will also allow us to run the state level Polithons in just one day – typically a Saturday – and then have the final outcome document cleaned up and fully developed over the next 3-5 days via GoogleDocs and email before being sent to the judges for review. The event will still be preceded by an informal dinner on Friday and then run from roughly 9 am to 9 pm the following day. We hope this adjustment will make the events more accessible and facilitate a better overall outcome by ensuring local focus, collaboration, and buy-in. The national Polithon will still be run over a full weekend, helping us to further prove the different levels of the model.

Our mission, vision, and goals remain the same and even though this is just a small pivot, we wanted to make sure we remained as transparent as possible and kept our loyal supporters up to date. Thanks for continuing on this journey with us!

– Julia

And for laughs….the title reference via Friends:

Happy February!

We are officially off and running with our plans for 2015 and wanted to make sure we kept our loyal followers in the loop with all that’s happening. First of all, Julia has just wrapped up her first week full time as President and Co-Founder (check out her blog on the experience), and we’ve also had two fabulous assistants join us to help with research and operations, Danielle Apfel in DC, and Beebe Sanders in California.

Ohio Polithon: We’ve solidified our partnership with Ohio State University and will be running our first event of 2015 on student loan debt in Columbus, Ohio, on OSU’s campus, hopefully April 10-12 (still firming up dates). We’re also in late stage talks with partners there, but are always looking for more, so email us at info@polithon.orgif you’re from the area and would like to be involved.

Upcoming Polithons: Following Ohio, we’ll be running events in California (May), Iowa (September), New Hampshire (October), and Texas (November) before the national Polithon in DC in January 2016.

Applications: The application is up and as always, help spreading the word would be great! It is a national application for all of the 2015 Polithons with differing deadlines for each state, so feel free to apply whenever you’re able, or Tweet, Facebook, email, or Instagram…just share with your networks!

Media: The United Nations Foundation’s Global Accelerator Blog, featured a post by Julia on the power of Millennials locally and internationally and why we should be taken seriously. Check it out: Millennials: Not a Generation of Hashtag Activists.

GETTING INVOLVED
We are so lucky to have an amazing network of supporters and people excited about what Polithon is working toward. In that spirit, if you want to be part of the movement in a deeper way, we could use more help on the following:

  • Partners: We are starting the search for supporters, local experts on student loan debt, and potential partners, for upcoming Polithons, so if you have any connections in those arenas, either locally in CA, IA, NH, or TX, or at the national levels, shoot us a note!
  • Applications: As we said above, help us spread the word!  We are looking for dedicated Millennials between 20 and 40 who are passionate about changing policy to apply for our Polithons this year.

Thanks as always for all that you do for us and others working in this space.

Here we go!

Julia + Evanna

New Year Present: We’re a Full Org!

Happy New Year!!

We hope you are having a great start to an even more kickass year 🙂

We know it has been a long time since our last update, and we apologize for the lack of communication. It’s not an excuse, but we have been busy building Polithon into a full-fledged organization, working on operations, fundraising, event planning, media, legal, etc. One of the biggest shifts is in our methodology. We have decided to focus on one issue per year, with five Polithons in different parts of the country, culminating in a final gathering in Washington, DC, where the best solutions from each city will do what Congress hasn’t been able to do – compromise and come up with a complete policy solution. For 2015, our issue will be student loan debt, and will kick off with a Polithon in Ohio in the spring followed by ones in Iowa, New Hampshire, and two other TBD states that will be relevant to the 2016 presidential election.

IMPORTANT UPDATES

The team: Julia will be on Polithon full-time starting the end of January, while Evanna will continue her role in a part-time capacity. The team will also be joined by a monitoring and evaluation expert next month.  Moreover, we are in the process of hiring an intern to help us get the organization off the ground. Check out the job description and share with anyone you think might be interested!

Fundraising: Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, we received seed money and will be financially sound for the next 4 months. Our fundraising strategy is multi-faceted with the mission to be a sustainable social enterprise (and less than 50% depend on donors) by 2017.

Next Event: Our first official event in Columbus, Ohio, will be in late March or early April. Ohio will be the location for the Republican National Convention next year and is one of the two candidates left for the DNC site as well, making it a perfect jumping off point for us. We are in late stage partnership and sponsorship talks with several major influential organizations. More news about this in the next week or so.

Media: Check out the coverage we received in the National Public Radio, which syndicated a piece by Ozy on Millennials in policymaking. For issue- focus on the Gaza blockade, the Independent Voter Network did a nice piece on us, and a more academic piece on the potential of Millennials is in development now as well. . Julia also did a podcast with Simon Sinek, speaker and writer of Leaders Eat Last andStart with Why and spoke about Polithon. The latter two will be out later this month.

Board/ Advisors: We are continuing our search for advisors and candidates for our board of directors who will push us to the next level. We have had some great conversations and are looking forward to finalizing agreements.

GETTING INVOLVED

Every day, we are thankful for all the support you have given us, whether monetarily or emotionally or connection-wise or through the myriads of other ways. We seriously could not have done what we have accomplished so far without it. If you are interested in being a part of this movement, we are asking for help on the following tasks:

  • Partners: we love to collaborate. If you know of any organizations, people, or potential funders who are passionate about long-term, sustainable, Millennial engagement, the student loan debt crisis, or any intersections thereof, please shoot us an email!
  • Hiring: know any graduates or almost graduates who are looking for an internship? Tell them about Polithon and send them our way

With the New Year, we are back on the newsletter bandwagon, so expect a 2 minute read about our progress once a month. No spam. No frill. To the point.

Thanks again! Onward. Upward

Evanna  + Julia

evanna@polithon.org
julia@polithon.org