We write with news of Color PAC’s future: Color PAC is joining forces with Amplify. We'll be one team, focused on bold candidates and real wins. We're excited.
Color PAC was first an idea, then a political action committee, then more than we could ever imagine.
We achieved a lot in two years. And it’s given us a renewed focus and commitment to our core beliefs: We believe by supporting bold leaders into public office we can help change the policies and systems that unfairly keep our communities out or down. We believe relationships are paramount and reject the transactional nature of partisan politics. And, we believe we must not ignore what our most recent election crystallizes: candidates of color face unique challenges when running and when governing.
With these beliefs we realized that a PAC isn’t enough. If we are to disrupt the status quo of “politics as usual,” if we are to think and act intersectionally, if we are to truly support candidates of color before, during and after a successful election—we have to do more.
So our commitment is to build an organization that equips our candidates to address these challenges head on, while being proud of who they are, where they come from and their ability to represent both their people and all Oregonians.
When we looked across the Columbia River, we found a partner who believed the same thing. So, after many months of consideration and with input from so many of you, we’ve realized we are stronger together than apart. We are joining forces with Amplify.
Amplify is a new organization, with years of experience. We’ve taken the best of their predecessor organization and its twelve-years of candidate recruitment and training (Progressive Majority Washington), and joined it with our aligned goals of long-term transformational politics.
So many of our families view the Columbia River not as a dividing line, but a bridge—to work, to education, to opportunity. As we’ve heard it said, “whether my father picks strawberries in Hood River or Husum, he cares about the safety and prosperity of his family.”
Amplify does not aspire to be a household name. Our focus is on supporting (and yes, amplifying!) our region’s incredible community-based organizations and networks to lift up their community leaders, and to help those leaders achieve real wins in elections and governing.
Already we have amazing staff in Seattle and Portland. Together, our staff are building out our governance, programs, and systems. In late 2017, we hope to add additional staff capacity. With great national partners like Wellstone Action and Local Progress, we are excited to get started.
We’re radically positive about the future of our region and the leaders we recruit. Do you want to get involved? We hope so. In January, staff will be reaching out to you and your organizations to see how we can work together and the level of engagement you’re interested in providing to help support our community’s champions in elected and appointed office. If that looks like board service, trusted advisor, or partner, or something different, we’re going to need your help and hope you will join us.
How We Succeed
Underrepresentation is at the heart of inequity and the imbalances we see in our democracy. Our institutions (intentionally or not) have a historical and current practice of using race, gender, class, sexual identity and other ways to exclude some and privilege others. (Often these identities intersect to a compounding effect.) And this privilege and exclusion reaches our highest decision-making tables: elected office.
Elected office and appointed commissions—and the policies they enact—have incredible impact on people's ability to prosper. When everyone in these positions is cut from the same cloth, it robs us of the diversity of experience that can produce real solutions, and extend the rights, resources and recognition our communities need to thrive.
To create a future with reflective, accountable leaders and strong policy, we must reject transactional politics, and instead invest in long-term relationships to build meaningful majorities on councils, committees, and beyond.
We work with community-based networks to find people deeply committed to, and reflective of, our communities, who understand root causes through lived experience: people of color, LGBTQ, women, young people. We connect them with mentors, grow their networks and expand their knowledge base. We work with them to build a radically positive and authentic vision and to run smart, inclusive campaigns for elected or appointed positions.
Once elected or appointed, those leaders work with their community to pass policies that improve opportunity for everyone. This process is not static. We work to connect leaders with community experts, one another, and national partners to enact smarter, more informed solutions.
We do all of this to achieve our vision of a more just democracy, where everyone can participate in the responsibility of shared governance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does this mean for you?
A: Our commitment to electing people of color to office at all levels remains central to the combined work of Color PAC & Amplify. You will now have access to cutting-edge political tools and trainings available for free from experts with years of successful campaigns under their belt. You will also see us build a robust community of future candidate alumni that receive personalized coaching and planning from our staff. We’re doubling down on our mission to get our leaders elected and appointed up and down the ballot; from Dog Catcher to Congress—and to help develop the campaign staff they need to win.
Q: What does this mean for people of color interested in running for public office?
A: For people of color in Oregon who are interested in running (or working for those running) for public office, this means they will have an organization with dedicated training and support programs prior to their announcement as a candidate. Never has Oregon had a dedicated and staffed organization doing this work directly to build political power for people of color in this manner.
Q: What does this mean for organizations who want to support candidates of color running for office?
A: Amplify will work with organizations to leverage resources and experience, not duplicating or replicating efforts across the state, but rather strategically coordinating our work in order to elect and support our communities in government.
Q: Will Amplify work to elect non-people of color to office? If so, who and why?
A: Amplify will continue to recruit, train and elect people of color to office. We also know that communities of color aren’t the only groups underrepresented in government and that this might change from city to city, based on what our community-based partners want. With their direction, we will recruit, train, and elect LGBTQ people, women, and young people who have also been disproportionately impacted by decisions our federal, state and local governments have made. In Oregon, however, our eyes are squarely focused on increasing the representation of people of color, who might also be LGBTQ, women, and/or young people.
Q: Where will Amplify focus its efforts in Oregon?
A: In 2017, we will launch trainings in Woodburn, Portland, and Gresham. We will spend the early part of 2017 working with our partners and allies in determining long-term opportunities to focus in specific communities.
Q: Besides training and electing, what other work will Amplify focus on?
A: Amplify focuses its work in two areas of programming: the pipeline and the promise. These programs support our leaders on both sides of Election Day. We know it's not enough just to get elected, but we must support our champions to be great elected officials. Our model will help create strong campaigns and strong public servants by providing staff support and ongoing education for progressive elected officials to advance an intersectional, progressive agenda for our communities.
Q: Is Amplify nonpartisan?
A: We are an organization guided by our values and focused on equity. We know that champions on our issues are not defined only by political party. Our candidates and leaders are people in your communities that share these values and commit to legislating with equity at the forefront of their agendas.
Q: Is Amplify a c3, c4, or PAC?
A: Amplify operates as a c4 organization. It will conduct its partisan candidate development and support operations under that designation. Additionally, Amplify operates an affiliated c3, AmplifyNW, that will house the bulk of the non-partisan candidate trainings and elected official support work. Lastly, Amplify operates it's political action committees in Washington and will help operate Color PAC in Oregon, to support candidates in both states.