Where did UpRise Campaigns come from?
Our Co-founder, Antonia Scatton, has been working in political communications for campaigns and advocacy organizations for more than two decades. In that time, she has seen both the amazing contributions that volunteers can make to a campaign — and the ways many campaigns fail to effectively take advantage of volunteers’ energy, creativity, and knowledge of their communities.
The foundational ideas behind the UpRise strategy arise from Scatton’s work on finding ways to empower volunteers to drive successful ground campaigns. Scatton has also been working with cognitive linguist George Lakoff (now an UpRise advisor) to develop practical messaging strategies that leverage cognitive science research on political framing.
Meanwhile, computer scientists — and sometime campaign volunteers/supporters — Nelson Morgan and Barath Raghavan were exploring ways to reduce the cost of political campaigns, in order to relieve pressure on candidates and incumbents to constantly court large donors.
In late 2014, Scatton and Morgan met. Their efforts and ideas were really the mirror image of one another: Scatton’s ideas defined a great approach to reducing the costs, while directly promoting democracy. It became clear that a formal entity needed to be established to support a collaborative effort. Together with Raghavan and user experience expert Madelaine Plauché, they formed UpRise Campaigns in June 2015.
A successful crowdfunding campaign in late 2015 provided enough funds to build a basic code base to support a number of key volunteer activities, and to begin talking to campaigns that could potentially use our tools and approach.
By the summer of 2016 UpRise had built a prototype platform and the core software for our more permanent system, and had begun our outreach to a wide range of campaigns for this important election year.
In the coming months, UpRise will be building up to a critical mass of volunteers, supporters, and electoral candidates who are dedicated to changing the current campaign culture and disrupting the rule of big money in politics. We will continue to offer our network of campaigns viable alternatives to dependence on big donations, including access to an organized volunteer workforce and extensive training on methods that improve the efficacy of low-budget campaigns.