The Pipeline Project
So much of functioning representation in government - up and down the ballot - depends on quality candidates. Civitas was able to see the need and create a national, coordinated strategy that would tackle disparities in representation and improve the quality of candidates and outcomes.
Despite the progress that has been made over the last few years, our elected leaders still fundamentally do not reflect the population. The U.S. is nearly 40% people of color, over 50% women, and over half of the labor force is working class; and yet our elected officials are 90% white, 71% men, and only 3% of state legislators are working class. Not only that, but over 70% of local races are uncontested - meaning only one candidate runs for the office. While organizations across the country have made efforts to recruit and train candidates, there was a lack of a comprehensive national strategy, sufficient funding or data to measure the effectiveness of these initiatives.
In 2018, Civitas played a pivotal role in launching The Pipeline Initiative - an effort to analyze the landscape around candidate recruitment and training at the state and local levels. To respond to the needs identified in the initial research project, Civitas supported the creation of a new family of organizations: The Pipeline Fund, Pipeline Education Fund, and The Pipeline Initiative.
Civitas supports the regular convening and collaboration of over 50 national and state pipeline organizations to develop more strategic and collaborative approaches to their work at state and national levels. In 2022, Pipeline organized 12 virtual convenings, bringing together over 100 members of its network and supporters. In 2023, Pipeline hosted an in-person national conference in Washington, D.C. to share research findings and address critical topics including strategies for recruiting candidates, developing campaign staff, and preparing for the increased attention on school board races.
Bringing Data & Technology to the Field
Civitas helped identify the need for more robust data and technology in the field of pipeline organizations. To enable organizations to recruit more candidates to run and win in more places, the Pipeline Initiative has built the most comprehensive and robust database of the 500,000-plus elected offices, elected officials, and candidates running for those offices in the country. Pipeline has layered demographic and geographic data like party identification, race, ethnicity, age, and gender to the officeholders and candidates, so that organizations can identify specific races to target. And they’ve built the infrastructure necessary to match each organization’s data (e.g. trainees, candidate prospects, endorsements) to the database, enabling Pipeline leaders to measure success and create a stronger, more diverse candidate recruitment pool.
Supporting State Leadership Pipelines
Civitas collaborates with Pipeline through grantmaking to enhance state-based leadership development efforts. In addition to direct grantmaking, Pipeline works to support a network of 15 state pipeline organizations that recruit and train leaders year-round and is working with stakeholders in 5 additional states to establish new pipeline organizations. To date, Pipeline has successfully allocated millions of dollars in direct grantmaking to pipeline organizations nationwide.