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February 14, 2019

Next week, one hundred and fifty aspiring political staffers will arrive in Des Moines, Iowa for the inaugural Arena Academy. While we only have the resources to welcome a class of 150, we were overwhelmed with 712 talented applicants from forty five states. They come from every corner of America. A teacher from Warsaw, North Carolina. A UPS store franchisee from Royal Oak, Michigan. Even a manager from the hit Broadway show Hamilton from, well, you know where.

Trainees aren’t just coming from an eclectic mix of jobs and places; they also better represent America’s racial and gender diversity. Fifty-six percent of the attendees identify as women and fifty-one percent also identify as people of color.

This talented founding class will go on to staff campaigns at every level — from president down to state legislature. They will change our politics thanks to the generosity of our community. Over half of attendees are attending on full scholarships and over seventy percent of scholarship recipients are people of color. Those scholarships, at a cost of over $2,000 per attendee, include full flight, hotel, and training costs.

But we need your help. We had to turn away four times as many folks as we accepted. And we expect that number to double or triple as we review applications for our next Academy in Charleston, South Carolina in April. That’s hundreds — and potentially thousands — of talented and eager future staffers who need training and support.

Consider giving now to the Arena Academy Scholarship Fund. We have the funds to offer half the number of scholarships in Charleston that we’ve offered in Des Moines, but with your help we can surpass our Des Moines numbers.

“Okay. These people sound cool, but why do we need this?”

Campaign experts, candidates, and activists warn that we will lose big in 2020 if we don’t dramatically improve our recruitment, training, and support of campaign staffers. In 2017 and 2018, we supported 63 candidates running for office around the country — and we witnessed this challenge first-hand. We’ve set out to address each of these problems.

Our solution is Arena Academy — an historic effort to train the next generation of progressive campaign staffers, and build an enduring talent pipeline.

Our vision is a world where all talented and energetic aspiring staffers — from any and all walks of life — have access to high quality training, effective and equitable job placement, and a network to support them along the way.

Help us make that vision real. Give to the Arena Academy Scholarship Fund.

Kate, Ravi, and Swati

Co-Founders, Arena