The State Voices story begins in 2005.
Important nonpartisan civic engagement work was happening in the states, but far too often organizations worked in silos, independently of one another. Crucial issues and opportunities often fell through the cracks or were undertaken piecemeal because no one group could tackle the full scope of work alone. Organizations were tired of coming together only around elections or cobbling together short-term campaigns on an issue-by-issue basis. New organizing technology was emerging that would change the way we engage with the public, but many organizations lacked the resources to obtain access, especially those working with communities traditionally underrepresented in our democracy.
Facing these dilemmas, state and community leaders, along with allied funders, saw the need for something strong and lasting – a place where organizations could come together to share resources, communicate openly, build trust, engage in real field collaboration, and share their battles. They knew grassroots nonprofits could improve their effectiveness by working together, and they knew this sort of sophisticated collaboration would require a stable structure. The state table model was born to fill this need: a table serves as a permanent organization in a given state, coordinating the collaborative efforts of partner grassroots organizations.
By the end of 2007, tables were active in 11 states. With more springing up across the country, their leaders saw a need for an entity to connect and support them. State Voices was launched in 2008 to fill this role, and we currently have 20 tables as part of our network.
In recent years, State Voices has taken a more active role as a democracy reform organization. In addition to providing critical tools, resources, and support to our tables and their partners, we now lead and coordinate national programs, research, and evaluation. You can read more about our current work here. Even with this new focus, our priority remains, as always, to unify our partners around a common agenda to strengthen our democracy, to fortify organizations and their leaders, and to amplify the voices of underrepresented and marginalized communities. In so doing, we are able to accomplish more together than any one of us would ever be able to accomplish alone.