Running Start

Washington, DC   |  www.runningstart.org

Mission

Running Start is a nonpartisan nonprofit that trains young women to run for political office.

Ruling year info

2008

CEO & Founder

Susannah Wellford

Chief Strategy Officer

Melissa Richmond

Main address

1310 L Street, NW Suite 820

Washington, DC 20005 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-8666097

NTEE code info

Leadership Development (W70)

Girls Clubs (O22)

Citizenship Programs, Youth Development (O54)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Research shows confidence generally peaks for girls at age 8. In terms of political confidence - young women and young men seem to be equally confident in their ability to run and win until they reach high school and college, when young women's political confidence starts decreasing. By the time a woman is in the middle of her career, she is likely to rate her own experience as only half as impressive as a similarly qualified man. Just one in four elected leaders are women. That is true at the international level (for presidents, prime ministers and a majority of parliaments), at the national level (in Congress), at the state level (for governors, statewide electeds and state legislators), among mayors of the biggest cities in the country, and even for student body presidents at the most prestigious colleges. Women win at the same rates as men when they run. The problem is there aren't enough women running. Running Start aims to keep young women on the path to political leadership!

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

High School Program

Running Start's High School Program is normally a weeklong in-person program in Washington, DC. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 programs were monthlong virtual programs. During both formats, 50-80 participants learn leadership and campaign skills from 100+ speakers, trainers and Members of Congress while working with their team in a campaign simulation. 90% of High School Program alums said their training gave them confidence to believe that they would be qualified to run for office in the future. Notable High School Program alum Abrar Omeish became the youngest-ever elected official in Virginia and one of the first Muslim women elected in Virginia. She serves on the Fairfax County School Board.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Adolescents

Elect Her is a daylong training for college women on how to run for student government and beyond and can be held virtually or in person. 88% of Elect Her alums who ran for office reported that their training had informed their campaign strategy. Each year, 45+ Elect Her trainings are held around the country. 450+ Elect Her trainings have been held, in 43 states and 9 countries, with 168+ partners, for 17,500+ participants. Notable Elect Her alum Allyson Carpenter (I) became the youngest-ever elected official in Washington, DC when she was elected to be an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. She was later elected student body president at Howard University.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Young adults

The Congressional Fellowship includes a semester-long internship with a woman in Congress, free fully furnished group housing on Capitol Hill, a living stipend, and travel to and from Washington, DC. Participants practice real-world campaign skills through a campaign simulation and get weekly training on how to run for office from mentors and alums. 85% of fellowship alums say their training has helped them believe that they can speak about important issues on behalf of others. With Walmart's partnership, Running Start has trained 153 Congressional Fellows who have been placed in the offices of 85+ women in Congress. Notable Congressional Fellowship alum Avery Bourne (R) is the youngest-ever elected official in Illinois. She represents the 95th district in the state legislature.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Young adults

The Young Women to Watch Awards serve as an annual fundraiser for Running Start and a showcase of its most impressive alums. In previous years, 300+ Washington, DC insiders gathered to hear from Running Start alums who were finalists in a campaign simulation called Run with Running Start. As part of the campaign competition alums seek support online, are given coaching, connected with political mentors, and give a speech at the Young Women to Watch Awards, after which the audience elects a winner who serves as the #ILookLikeAPolitician ambassador the following year. In 2021 we held this same event virtually, with live voting to determine our campaign winner. Notable alum Saira Blair (R) was the youngest-ever elected official at the state and federal level. She was elected to represent West Virginia's 59th district.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

Since 2007, Running Start has given 20,000+ young women the confidence, capabilities and connections they need to run and win. 90% of our participants who report running for office win and 99% would recommend Running Start to a friend. At Running Start, we are invested in forming long term relationships with our alums throughout their careers and aim to provide them with additional leadership opportunities after they leave our programs. Each year, we hold 20-30 additional trainings and events, outside of our regular programming. This includes networking events, webinars focused on the skills needed to run for office, and our new Alum Board. Our additional events and trainings are also meant to connect alums to each other so they can build a strong network and support system as they grow their political careers. In 2021 Running Start created an online network via slack and Linkedin for its alums to connect and reconnect with each other, share resources, and find mentors.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Young adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of program graduates

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Percent of participants from each program that felt qualified to run for office after Running Start training: High School Program: 86% Congressional Fellowship: 79% Elect Her: 71%

Number of public events held to further mission

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Young adults, Adolescents

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Running Start trains young women to run for political office on a nonpartisan basis. We seek to give them the confidence capabilities and connections they need to run and win! Over the past 15 years, Running Start has trained more than 20,000 young women.

We think training young women to run for office is the right thing to do, so that our elected leaders reflect the people they represent. But, it's also the smart thing to do. When women are in office they sponsor and cosponsor more legislation, on a wider variety of issues, they work together better across the aisle and they bring more money back to their home districts.

Research shows there are 5 things that can be done to increase young women's political confidence in high school and college. Running Start does 4 of them -

- socialize young women to think about politics as a career path
- expose young women to more political information and discussion
- encourage young women to run for office
- tell young women they are qualified to run

The 5th intervention, which Running Start does not do, is encourage young women to play competitive sports. However, Running Start does have an element of campaign competition in every single training, so young women can learn to care about winning, which seems to be why playing sports matters in terms of political ambition.

Running Start's programs give young women the confidence, capabilities and connections they need to run and win. Running Start's programs include the High School Program, Elect Her, the Congressional Fellowship, and the Running Start Network.

Over the past 13 years, Running Start has trained 20,000+ young women to run for office on a nonpartisan basis.

The young women we train are diverse - 60% are women of color, 21% are first generation college students, 14% identify as LGBTQIA+, 3% are persons with disabilities, 50% are low or low-medium income and receive a scholarship if they are attending a program with a fee (although most of the programs are free), more than half have a political ideology that matches with Pew data on millennial women's political preferences.

Running Start has had some great successes! 99% of alums say they would recommend a Running Start training to a friend. 90% of alums who report that they ran for office after attending a Running Start program also report that they also won. Running Start has trained the youngest ever elected officials in Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, DC, and Illinois. And, Running Start recently had its first alum elected to Congress - Lauren Underwood from Illinois - she's the first woman, first person of color, and first millennial to represent her District.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our programming is primarily for young people (our participants span ages 13-25). Our trainings focus on young women, including trans* women, and we welcome nonbinary people and anyone who is comfortable in a space that centers the experiences of young women. True representation can’t be achieved if it does not include the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, economic status, disability, religion, and more. Our goal is to build our participants networks so that they remain connected to Running Start throughout their careers and lives.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Many of our participants have suggested we create an alum board so that participants can gain valuable professional experience while also creating space for our organization to receive valuable feedback from those we serve. Our first alum board cohort will serve in 2022.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    At Running Start we recognize that our staff of only nine people cannot possibly relate to all of the experiences of our 20,000 alums. We recognize that not only do they have valuable insight as actual participants, but they have varied lived experiences that inform their experience with our programming. Our entire mission centers on our participants willingness to speak their minds, share their experiences, and advocate on behalf of others. We must not only accept their criticisms and feedback but invite it as a vital part of the path to political leadership.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve,

Financials

Running Start
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Running Start

Board of directors
as of 10/8/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Tasha Cole

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Term: 2017 - 2021


Board co-chair

Sabrina Schaeffer

White House Writers Group, Inc.

Term: 2020 - 2021

Angela Baker

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Rosemary Becchi

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Nancy Bocskor

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Lawrence Duncan

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Jessica N. Grounds

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Emily Lenzner

Motion Picture Association

Kelley McCormick

Original Strategies

William Minor

DLA Piper

Jenn Higgins

Guardant Health

Peter Brown

Deloitte

Hagir Elawad

Embassy of the UAE

Anne Fabry

The Fabry Group

Alethia Jackson

Walgreens

Susannah Wellford

Running Start

Jessica Hogle

Tennessee Valley Authority

Poppy MacDonald

USA Facts

Alyse Nelson

Vital Voices

Isaac Fordjour

Boston Scientific

Karen Goldmeier Green

Akin Gump

Lucinda Robb

KidsGiving

Natalie Farr

Subject Matter

Sabrina Schaeffer

White House Writers Group

Sohini Gupta

Global Medical Response

Laura Cox Kaplan

She Said/She Said Podcast

Laura Siegrist

Walmart

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 09/16/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.