Founded in early 2007, Running Start grew out of the non-partisan Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC), which financially supports young women running for federal office. Running Start was formed when it became clear that the pool of young women considering careers in politics and running for elected office was far too small. Young women and girls need to be educated about politics earlier in life if the make-up of the political leaders in our country is to transform. We must instill in the next generation that public service is admirable and achievable. Running Start provides young women and girls with the skills and confidence they need to become the political leaders of tomorrow.

Running Start supports the young women who will shape tomorrow’s world. We aim to plant the seed of interest in politics so that they will run earlier, climb higher through leadership, and share more in the decision making power of their country. These young women will bring in new ideas to help solve old problems, and will raise issues unique to their lives that have otherwise been overlooked in politics.

We founded Running Start to address the absence of equal representation in the halls of government. We continue to educate and inspire around these pillars of our mission:

  • We Need More Women in Political Office
    The key to strengthening and increasing women’s representation in American government is to get younger women engaged in politics and elected to office earlier in life. Women make up only a small fraction of elected officials in America. And of that number, only a tiny fraction of them are in leadership positions in politics. The statistics are shocking – in 2015, only 19% of Congress and 23% of state legislatures are women. America is far below most  peer countries in the world in terms of women’s political representation. In fact, we are 76th out of 189 nations around the world with elected governments.
  • Leadership Positions Come From Experience & Tenure
    We must encourage young women to run for office, so that they can establish the tenure necessary to rise to political leadership positions. Political systems reward seniority with leadership positions as tenure in office confers credibility. Men outnumber women in these roles by significant margins. In the 114th Congress, a woman chairs exactly one committee in each chamber (House list, Senate list). As the pipeline to political power begins early in life – 12 of the last 19 Presidents started their political careers before they were 35 years old, women often handicap themselves by not considering a run for office until much later in life than their male counterparts.
  • Education Prepares Young Women to Lead
    Running Start’s programs give young women the knowledge, support, encouragement and inspiration they need to run for an elected position. Each of our programs work with young women using hands-on exercises, small group activities, and mentoring relationships to develop their leadership skills. Young women leave our programs with confidence in their ability to lead other people, bring change to their community, and advocate for their beliefs. (Learn about our programs here.)