Pocketbook Project, Inc. Receives Inaugural WPLN Grant To Break Barriers For Female Candidates
Women's Public Leadership Network partners to increase the number of women in public office in Massachusetts
Boston, MA - The Pocketbook Project was awarded an Organization and Program grant from Women’s Public Leadership Network (WPLN) as part of a new grant program designed to support state-based organizations that educate, organize, and inspire women to enter public office.
The Pocketbook Project was founded by Massachusetts political veterans Jennifer Nassour and Christina Bain. The organization places resources and skill sets at the disposal of fiscally responsible female candidates for federal, state, and local offices. They seek out candidates who support equality, the free market, fiscally responsible spending and transparency in government. Beth Lindstrom, Matthew Keswick, and Nicaela Chinnaswamy have joined the organization as Board Members and Nicole Dooley as their Executive Director.
“As a former party chair, CEO of ReflectUS, and first-time candidate for office, I have experienced from all angles the barriers right-of-center women face in running for office,” said Nassour. “I am excited to bring these experiences together and help get more fiscally responsible women elected to office in Massachusetts.”
“My life’s work has been dedicated to empowering women,” said Bain, who in addition to politics, has also worked in public policy issues affecting women and girls. “It is imperative to have more women in leadership positions.”
WPLN chose to make these inaugural grants in conjunction with the Centennial of the 19th Amendment celebrated this month. Through its growing network of partners, including the Pocketbook Project in Massachusetts, and a rich offering of online resources, WPLN is pursuing its mission of bringing more voices to the table, equipping commonsense, pragmatic women to enter public office.
“There has long been a need for state resources that offers in-person training and mentor support for women seeking to hold public office, and who identify as right of center in their principles. It’s no secret that women remain underrepresented in political leadership, especially center-right women. Our hope is that through our work, more women from all walks of life will have access to the tools they need to step into leadership positions,” said Larissa Martinez, Co-Founder & Executive Director of WPLN.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting the majority of women the right to vote. But progress has been slow when it comes to holding elected office. Only 24 percent of Congressional seats are held by women, and women account for only 29 percent of state legislatures. WPLN supports the advancement of women in leadership roles ranging from their local school boards to the U.S. Congress.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics, a record number of women have filed to run for U.S. House seats in 2020, including a record number of Republican women. As CAWP director Debbie Walsh said in a statement, “We’ll never get to parity without women on both sides of the aisle running and winning.” WPLN’s goal is to do just that, continuing the momentum to every level of government, increasing the number of women in both elected and appointed positions.
“We want to help equip women at every step of their public service journey,” said Jenifer Sarver, chair of the WPLN board of directors, “and with these grants we are putting our money where our mouth is.” A former congressional candidate herself, Sarver added, “When individuals with diverse backgrounds are in office, new perspectives are injected into policy discussions helping produce better policy outcomes for all Americans. A diversity of ideas leads to better decisions overall.”
As a state partner, the Pocketbook Project was invited to apply for the newly created grant, which was designed to help build-out capacity and expand outreach in MA. In addition, the Pocketbook Project has access to online and in-person training opportunities, leadership summits, and issues education.
The Pocketbook Project has exhibited a commitment to diversifying leadership through fostering women leaders at the local and state level in MA,” Martinez said. “Through these grant dollars, we will help them scale their model to provide leadership training opportunities to build skill sets and increase outreach efforts even more so, and to build out that pipeline of women leaders at every level.”
WPLN is funded by a combination of private donors, philanthropic organizations and foundations, including Democracy Fund and Pivotal Ventures, the investment company created by Melinda Gates. Through the support of their generous funders, WPLN is able to offer its support, resources and content at no cost to its members.
The Pocketbook Project will be launching a campaign 101 training series called “Women on the Trail”. The series will focus on helping first-time female candidates and operatives run smart and effective campaigns.