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Democracy Rising launched in the summer of 2020 with a mission to deeply engage impacted communities in the process of reimagining and transforming our democracy. Our vision is to create a democracy where all communities have political equity, are fully able to participate in the democratic process, and are empowered to hold elected officials accountable


Democracy Rising supports these efforts through voter and candidate education programs, coalition building, and cultivating a network of diverse democracy leaders. Our work sets the foundation for real, structural change that builds the community power to protect and enhance our democracy.

Democracy Rising integrates pedagogical concepts from Freire’s Popular Education into strategy, training, educational materials, and community conversations. Popular Education is based on the idea that every person is an expert in their own life experience. We invest time building relationships with local partners in communities engaging in democracy transformation. Nationally, this investment allows us to build a bench of diverse leaders who can create a more inclusive democracy reform movement. Locally, these partnerships ensure reforms are implemented successfully.

Democracy Rising is a fiscally sponsored project of NEO Philanthropy, a 501(c)(3) public charity committed to building strong social justice movements


Democracy Rising has two primary program areas:



Continued expansion of transformative electoral reforms requires their implementation to be perceived as successful. A well-organized education campaign is the primary way to ensure reforms live up to their promise and to prevent a repeal effort. We create voter education campaigns that recognize the experience and expertise that exists in communities and combine that with best practices to ensure these campaigns are effective and scalable. 

Together or individually, Democracy Rising Directors Maria Perez and Grace Ramsey have worked on implementatio efforts in Maine, Alaska, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Oakland, Bloomington, Minnetonka, Santa Fe, Benton County, Las Cruces, New York City, Eastpointe, Yakima, 23 cities across the state of Utah, and in the 4 states (AK, KS, HI, and WY) where the Democratic party used ranked ballots for their 2020 presidential primaries.


Cultivating a Diverse Network of Leaders

The democracy reform movement needs a new bench of spokespeople and experts, one that reflects the diversity of our country. When we work in communities, we strive to identify local leaders, particularly women and people of color, who are genuinely interested in democracy and the democratic process. These leaders are elected officials, or community advocates and organizers. Democracy Rising builds relationships, finds avenues to engage them in democracy work, and connect them to each other.

This work includes:

  • Language Justice Focus Groups

  • VRA litigation community conversations

  • First annual Women of Color Democracy Transformation Summit


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Born and raised in Ecuador, Maria immigrated to the United States in the 1990s to pursue her education. A seasoned non-profit leader, organizer, facilitator, advocate, educator, and coalition builder, Maria is a firm believer in the power of people coming together to address complex social problems. She spent over ten years as a healthcare practitioner, before turning to policy, equity, and advocacy work. She served as Campaign Lead and later as Interim Hub Manager for the California Endowment’s project Building Healthy Communities (East Oakland), Director of FairVote New Mexico, and Campaign Manager for Common Cause New Mexico.  She is a national expert on the issue of ranked choice voting. She believes that democracy is the ultimate health equity indicator and devotes her professional work to ensure that the democratic process is accessible to all people.

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Grace brings over 9 years experience working on voter education campaigns across the country. She began her career as an organizer with FairVote Minnesota’s Rank Your Vote campaign, went on to become Deputy Director of Outreach at FairVote, and led voter education and organizing campaigns as a consultant with Democracy in Action. Grace has led voter education campaigns across the country in places like Alaska, Minneapolis & St. Paul, Maine, Santa Fe, New York City, and Utah. Over the course of her career she has come to deeply understand and appreciate the power of community organizing and has solidified her belief that a strong democracy is one that evolves to better serve the people. Grace specializes in voter and candidate education, training development and facilitation, community organizing, and leadership development.


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