Rural Power Lab 2023 Application

Rural Power Lab (RPL), is launching our 3rd cohort! You are eligible to apply for our grant program if you are a rural County Democratic Party or a non-party group doing electoral organizing for Democrats in a rural or non-urban community. The application deadline is March 31, 2023. 

About Rural Power Lab 

Rural Power Lab, formed in fall 2021, is a rurally-focused experimental support program incubated at Movement Labs that partners with State and Local Democratic Parties and grassroots organizations to provide an additional layer of resources, training, and support for rural local Democratic Parties. We help rural Democrats come out of isolation and connect with other rural Democrats locally and nationally to organize together, share best practices, and uplevel your capacity to build volunteer networks, persuade and mobilize voters, and recruit candidates. 

In 2021, we successfully piloted our program in KS, MT, VA, and WI with 70+ rural Democratic county parties and were well received and rated by county chairs and members. In 2022 we grew our program in these states and added AZ and MI and granted $116,000. In 2023, dependent on fundraising, we hope to grant $500,000. As we reflect on a strong finish in the midterms, it’s undeniable that rural voters and organizing made a difference in both local and statewide races in battleground states. With support from our grant program, county parties revealed the makings of a blue spine that cuts through what was once thought to be deep red territory. Our partnership was able to subsidize the work of 72 counties as they engaged voters on the ground in the most impactful ways.

We are currently seeking new applicants to partner with us through the end of 2024. Here’s what folks are saying about our program: 

  • “Ellen Holly, a schoolteacher, the party chair in Walworth County in Wisconsin’s southeast corner, credits both Wikler and Rural Power Lab with a more effective strategy. Both are committed to the proposition that Democrats must not write off any county, no matter how Republican, and must work year-round, and not just in election years, to rebuild voter trust.” Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect
  • “What gets measured, gets done. Having monthly RPL goals and reporting held us accountable.” – Calhoun County, MI
  • “We are very thankful for the program and look forward to working more with Rural Power Labs! The trainings were fantastic. With RPL we were able to donate our legal limit to our candidates, we had an office that made it easier for people to contact us and engage with us, and we are set up financially through the 2023 Wisconsin Supreme Court elections!” – Douglas County, WI

What we are not

We are not a replacement for your State Party, or meant to replace any existing programs. Our program is an additional layer of support. Since our founding, we have built an advisory board of on-the-ground rural county party chairs, rural experts, and rural partners, and we strive to work together to zig where others zag and push for more attention and resources to all rural organizing work.

If you are accepted into this program we will provide:

  • $500 quarterly grants upon successful completion of monthly goals (up to $2,000/year total). See goals below. 
  • Required virtual monthly trainings to prepare you for each month’s action goal 
  • Operational and staff support to assist you in accomplishing monthly action goals
  • Free texting capacity to reach Democrats in your county (we send texts for you!) 
  • Additional tech and digital tools, as needed, including creation of a website for your organization
  • Access to curated briefings and training sessions hosted by our circle of rural experts, partners, and state-specific trainers/experts
  • Connections to a thriving network of rural county party leaders and experts 

2023 Actions & Goals Overview

The below information is a sample to give you a general sense of what types of actions we require grantees to complete. Given local circumstances and needs vary, in some cases we’ll work with you to create a custom plan of action that works for your needs. Participants receive grant funding conditional upon completing monthly actions. Once accepted to the program you will receive a detailed overview of the program and monthly actions requirements, as well as “evergreen” actions you can do instead of a monthly action. Each month you’ll either do the below monthly action, or a combination of evergreen actions. Evergreen actions include: 

  • Generating an article in the press
  • Knocking on doors
  • Holding a monthly meeting
  • Doing direct voter contact via calls, postcards, or text banking
  • Hosting a public volunteer event – phone bank, canvass, etc
  • Hosting a fundraiser
  • Hosting an advocacy event (e.g. meeting with a member of Congress) 
  • Having Movement Labs do a text blast to recruit volunteers, for events, etc. 
  • Attending a community event

Draft 2023 Monthly Actions

Month Training County Party Goal RPL Provided Funding/Digital Support
Apr Social Media Create a social media messaging plan or create a social media committee and appoint volunteer leadership $500 for getting started
May Holding Base-Building Events Base-building launch event (virtual or in-person) with 20 RSVPs or 1 person for every 1000 people in your area (whichever is higher) Work together to ensure RSVP goals are met, texting training and outreach
June Field Research Compile demographic and social information about your county, create a SWOT analysis Provide analysis examples, training, and organizing best practices
July Rural Messaging & Youth Messaging Create and deploy a youth vote messaging series or establish a Young Dems Chapter for your county $500 for April, May, & June’s actions. 

Training and best practices on youth voters, messaging support

Aug Host a Base-Building Event  Host an event focused on young dems or host a voter registration drive Work together to ensure RSVP goals are met, Voter Registration information
Sept Volunteer Recruitment Host a skills training for your volunteers or have a weekend of action with Chloe Maxmin & Dirt Road Organizing Texting support, train the trainer sessions, RSVP help 
Oct Race-Class Narrative Participate in a Race Class Narrative training and create your own messaging or Deep Canvass/Knock Doors for GOTV $500 for July, August, & September’s actions. 

Training and messaging experts, GOTV support

Nov Debriefing Finish GOTV and debrief the years results/actions 
Dec Service Host a service event that generates RSVPs from 1 of every 1,000 people in your area.  RSVP support and Brainstorm
Jan 2024 TBD TBD $500 for October, November & December actions

How To Apply & Selection process

  • Complete our application form → Due March 31st 2023
  • Selected counties and organizations will be notified between May 15th-July 1, 2023
  • Depending on volume of interest, interviews with applicants may be required
  • We anticipate getting many more applicants than we can fund this year. We will base our selection on a variety of factors, including: 
    • Strength of application
    • Ability to impact significant local, statewide and federal races in 2023 and 2024
    • Recommendations from existing partners
    • Focus on organizing underserved and underrepresented communities and populations 


To be considered for this program you must meet the following criteria. 

If Democratic County Party: 

  1. Be in a rural county, defined by us as a population smaller than 150,000 and per the 2020 census at least 15% of population lives in a non-urban area. 
  2. Have a chair or volunteer lead who is willing to attend monthly RPL meetings and complete monthly goals 

If other type of organization (C4, volunteer-led group, membership organization, etc)

  1. Have access to VAN 
  2. Be doing rurally-focused electoral organizing in support of Democrats
  3. Be smaller than 1 paid staff, priority given to entirely volunteer-led organizations) 

➡️ APPLY HERE BY MARCH 31st, 2023 ⬅️

Questions? Get in touch with our program staff! You can reach our full team at and whoever is available will respond first.

Are you a donor who’d like to support our work? You can contribute here.

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