By educating young women and girls about the importance of politics, and imbuing them with the skills they need to be leaders, we give women the running start they need to achieve greater political power. With an earlier start in politics, women will climb higher on the leadership ladder, allowing more women to share in the decision making power of this country.

The Young Women’s Political Leadership Program introduces 60 high school girls to the importance of political leadership. This week-long retreat in July includes workshops led by experts in the field on public speaking, messaging, networking, on-camera media training, and platform development. The goal of the program is to encourage the girls to channel their leadership into politics.

The Running Start/Walmart Star Fellowship program brings 14 college women to Washington, DC each year to learn about politics first-hand.  Our Fellows are placed in the offices of female Members of Congress on Capitol Hill where they hone their policy and political skills.  Each Friday, the Fellows take part in a seminar conducted by Running Start, which rounds out their internship experience by giving them the skills and contacts they need to become political leaders.  The seminars also give our Fellows a better understanding of what their boss had to do to win their seat in Congress. The Fellows emerge from their semester in DC with a deeper understanding of the need for more women to run for office, and confidence in their own abilities to lead, whether at their schools or on the national stage.

Running Start officially launched Elect Her: Campus Women Win in the spring of 2010, in collaboration with American Association of University Women (AAUW).  The Elect Her initiative highlights programs that are growing the pipeline of women running for elected office. The centerpiece program of the Elect Her initiative is a training program that encourages college women to run for student government on their college or university campuses. Research has shown that women who run for student body elections in college are more likely to run for office as adults. The training addresses the disparity between the high percentage of women in colleges and universities and their low percentage in student governments.

The Young Women’s Political Summit brings together young women from across the country for the opportunity to hone their leadership skills, strengthen their political connections, and take their leadership to the next level. The summit is open to women between the ages of 15 and 35+.

The Running Start Internship introduces young women (and men) to the Washington, DC nonprofit world, providing numerous opportunities for professional development and political training. Interns take on substantive projects to help plan and implement Running Start’s programs and participate in the trainings offered during their internship semester. Interns leave Running Start with new skills, useful professional contacts, and are ready to run for office.

Run with Running Start is a unique competition for alums of Running Start’s other programs to further their training via a campaign simulation and to showcase their accomplishments to the country and to DC’s political elites. Alums enter the contest and must pass through several rounds, including a general application review, online voting, signature gathering, and other campaign simulation activities to become one of our finalists. The finalists are honored and compete live for audience votes at Running Start’s Young Women to Watch Awards (held each spring). The winner earns the Political Rising Star Award.