Cultivating Leaders in Silicon Valley and Across the Nation

July 27, 2016 -- Jamie Way

Eighteen years ago, Silicon Valley affiliate, Working Partnerships USA, launched its 1000 Leaders Project based on the belief that ordinary people rooted in the values of their communities can and should be the ones leading our country.

Early on, WPUSA’s leadership realized that if they were going to build a diverse coalition that could make big gains for working people and govern successfully, they needed to create a space where leaders could develop a shared analysis of region issues.

Most importantly, the trainings have helped WPUSA create an inside-outside strategy, where community and elected officials are on the same page in terms of their analysis and what policies need to be passed. And this model is yielding results. Alumni of the training been at the forefront of coalitions that have passed $15 city level minimum wage increases (and now fighting for a regional increase), won hundreds of millions of dollars for community priorities – including transit justice, affordable housing and services for immigrants, seniors and youth – in municipal budgets and revenues and crafted a program to achieve universal health coverage in Santa Clara County. Combined with this policy campaign leadership experience, the 1000 Leaders Project creates a pipeline of women and people of color rooted in the values and power of local communities and prepared to succeed as public leaders at the highest levels in their regions, including elected office.

Using their region as a laboratory for training women and people of color to take on leadership roles, WPUSA brought together diverse cohorts of leaders from the civic institutions that form the fabric of our cities. Participants from government, unions, nonprofits and congregations are selected to join the 1000 Leaders Project. They receive training on the vision, tools and relationships they need to transform their home communities into beacons of social and economic justice. Through the project, leaders can participate in a number of trainings, which serve to connect community and labor leaders with a shared analysis of their region, train top tier grassroots leaders in public leadership and develop elected officials’ technical and strategic skills.

Over the last decade plus, WPUSA has built on the 1000 Leaders model by working with Partnership for Working Families affiliates across the country and providing technical assistance in training leaders. Today, PWF affiliates and partner organizations in 16 regions across the US have collaborated with the 1000 Leaders Project, graduating more than 1,400 leaders, including more than 225 elected officials and 100 appointed officials. .