The Daphne Foundation leads investment in world`s first non-profit election consulting firm

Released on: February 27, 2008, 8:27 am

Press Release Author: Grassroots Initiative

Industry: Non Profit

Press Release Summary: Grassroots Initiative, a non-partisan, non-profit
organization based in New York, announced today that the Daphne Foundation will
become the lead investor in the first non-profit election consulting firm

Press Release Body: The Daphne Foundation leads investment in
world's first non-profit election consulting firm

Grassroots Initiative to revolutionize candidate recruitment in the United States

New York, NY - Grassroots Initiative, a non-partisan, non-profit organization based
in New York, announced today that the Daphne Foundation will become the lead
investor in its Election Assistance Unit. The undertaking marks the dawn of the
world's first non-profit election consulting firm, which seeks to drastically reduce
the barriers and financial costs of running for elected office.

Grassroots Initiative was founded to ensure that public service is accessible
regardless of race, creed or economic status. Nationwide, less than 5% of all local
elected officials and less than 1% of state elected officials are persons of color.
Gaps in minority representation mirror huge wealth disparities between elected
officials and the American public at large.

"There is no shortage of dynamic, capable leadership in America's low-income and
diverse urban neighborhoods, yet rarely are these individuals the same people that
seek elected office," says Jeff S. Merritt, Grassroots Initiative's founder. "Our
schools do not teach how to run for elected office and role models are few and far
between. It's hard to argue we live in a vibrant democracy when the vast majority
of elections in places like New York have just one candidate on the ballot. "

To combat these problems, Grassroots Initiative is launching targeted public
awareness campaigns to recruit candidates and provide free technical assistance to
help first-time candidates get their name on the ballot. All of the organization's
election services - from legal guides to campaign signs - are publicly-subsidized
thereby ensuring that even small-budget candidates can afford the most advanced
campaign tools. In 2008-2009, Grassroots Initiative will focus primarily on
recruiting and assisting candidates for City Council, State Assembly and State
Senate in New York. In addition, select services, including low-cost campaign
materials, will be offered to candidates nationwide.

By lowering the costs and risks associated with running for elected office,
Grassroots Initiative hopes to encourage traditionally marginalized and
underrepresented groups to enter public affairs for the first time. In 2006, the
organization attracted national attention for its work to elect the first Sikhs in
New York, a group that has been a target of persistent discrimination and hate
crimes in post-9/11 America.

"The Daphne Foundation is thrilled to be able to support this important initiative,"
said Abigail Disney, President and co-founder of the Daphne Foundation. "There is
no better place to look for answers to our toughest political problems than to the
men and women who work hard every day to make this country tick. We will never see
substantive and systemic change in America until it fulfills its democratic promise,
and Grassroots Initiative is one big, creative step in the right direction." The
Daphne Foundation looks forward to seeing other funders join in this historic


About Grassroots Initiative

Grassroots Initiative is the world's first non-profit election consulting firm.
Since 2005, the organization has served as the "go-to" point for individuals
interested in running for elected office in New York City. Grassroots Initiative\'s
programs and services work to ensure that the door to public service is open to the
best and brightest community leaders and that, once elected, these officials have
the tools they need to successfully serve their constituents. To learn more, visit

About the Daphne Foundation

The Daphne Foundation funds programs that confront the causes and consequences of
poverty in the five boroughs of New York City. We have a particular interest in
grassroots and emerging organizations engaging their members in the creation and
implementation of long-term solutions to intractable social problems. We believe a
foundation should fund in a manner that reinforces and facilitates the work of the
programs it funds and that the most inventive and humane solutions to social
problems often come from the people most affected by those problems. To learn more,

Web Site:

Contact Details: 81 Franklin St, 5th Fl
New York, NY 10013
t:212-400-05143 f:646-519-4749

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