CHANGE Illinois wins Accelerator Award

Inaugural award will help with work to end gerrymandering

CHANGE Illinois won an inaugural Accelerator Award worth $50,0000 to aid in its work to end gerrymandering in Illinois.

Unite America, in partnership with Represent US, created the Accelerator Awards to fuel efforts across the country to achieve improvements to democracy.

CHANGE Illinois was among five winners who were honored at the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers summit in Denver Dec. 6. The award includes a $25,000 cash grant as well as $25,000 in in-kind strategic support.

CHANGE Illinois Executive Director Madeleine Doubek spoke to more than 120 summit attendees about the coalition’s work to end gerrymandering in Illinois. Lawmakers must vote to approve an independent redistricting commission by May 3, 2020 in order for it to appear on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot.

Doubek noted more than a super majority of the Illinois Senate have signed on as supporters of the commission legislation called the Fair Maps Amendment for the past two years, but Senate leadership has not allowed the legislation to be called for a vote.

Noting ongoing federal investigations into various state lawmakers continues, Doubek said corruption is born when politicians put their self interest above the people’s interest by drawing their own districts.

“Gerrymandering is a form of voter suppression and it must stop,” she said.

CHANGE Illinois was selected from among 115 applicants for the award nationwide. The grants went to organizations working to end gerrymandering, to give voters more electoral choice and power and those working on efforts to expand vote by mail efforts.

The award will be used to help fund digital outreach efforts and organize lobbying days in Springfield next year, Doubek said.

“With more than 20 reform victories in 2018, the movement to put voters first is gaining momentum,” said Tyler Fisher, Deputy Director of Unite America. “We are proud to work with our partners to provide support to the growing number of activists and organizations who are taking a stand against political corruption and dysfunction.” 

The grants, which range in amounts from $10,000 – $25,000, were funded by the Unite America Fund, including support from Arnold Ventures. Grantees will also be eligible to receive critical in-kind campaign support from RepresentUs’ Campaign Accelerator program.