Government fellowship for women
Ready to Launch is a new women-led nonprofit in Los Angeles that is on a mission to diversify the staff pipeline in government and politics. Through our fellowship program and public events, we provide resources to level the playing field for women from historically marginalized communities to learn, grow, and launch staff careers in government and politics.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Youth Economic Advancement (sponsored by Funding Partner, TBA)
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
The staff pipeline in government and politics is built on systems of patriarchy, racism and elitism. This exclusion undermines our democracy and our government’s ability to represent America’s diversity. While there are many organizations focused on helping women and people of color run for office, there is drastically less investment in building the staff pipeline in politics and government and ensuring all women are included. Government offices don’t sufficiently invest in recruitment to reach diverse candidates and a lack of awareness about these careers limit the ability of women from historically marginalized communities to find these opportunities. Unpaid internships bar access to these fields and perpetuate exclusion at all levels. Young people with family household incomes above $200K are 72% more likely to work in these fields compared to those from low income families. For some, taking a government internship means choosing between having money for food or getting experience.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Ready to Launch is leveling the playing field for women from historically marginalized communities to access staff careers in government and politics through our fellowship program and public events. Many existing programs recruit applicants who have impressive resumes or are mid-career professionals. Ready to Launch has a different ethos – we work to find women who haven’t been given an opportunity yet, whose raw passion and talent is there, but who don’t have the resources to get started. Our fellowship program helps women learn about staff careers and build connections. The fellowship is designed for women seeking entry-level experience in government. We actively recruit from local colleges and universities, nonprofits and community organizations to reach women where they are and offer resources and support that create more inclusive pathways into these fields. We provide training and mentorship to prepare our fellows for the workplace, and then help each one secure an internship in an elected official’s office to gain hands-on experience. Our program is free, and we provide stipend support so that no one has to choose between experience and paying the bills. Through public events and online resources, we also serve as a community hub for women to connect, learn about career paths, and find resources that can help them in their journey. At the core of this work, we center community building and multi-generational mentorship.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Our fellowship alum Emely exemplifies the success of our work in our first year. When we met Emely last May, she was working in food service and had never been able to take an unpaid government internship. She was shy, but her passion shone through. We connected her with a mentor, helped her secure a State Assembly internship, trained her to enter government work and provided the stipend she needed. This May, Emely graduated from college and accepted a full-time job with a State Senator’s office. Voices like Emely’s will change how our government operates and supports Los Angeles’ diverse communities. This project was launched in the middle of the pandemic to ensure that women from historically marginalized communities are no longer left out of the conversation when it comes to changing the way our systems and institutions work. L.A. County will have more informed and compassionate policies with government staff with the lived experiences to understand the needs of their communities.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Our recruitment efforts are successful. We had 150 applicants across L.A. County for our first two fellowship classes. The majority of our applicants identified as low-income, 90% were women of color, and nearly 70% were from immigrant families. We survey our fellows before and after the program to measure our impact. Participants increased their awareness of the career paths available to them, felt they were more prepared to work in government or politics, and grew more comfortable networking and building professional relationships. We also measure success by tracking the participants’ outcomes after the fellowship – with several alumni already leveraging their fellowship to gain other paid opportunities in the field. For our public events, we partnered with USC’s Center for Leadership by Women of Color on a series to expose attendees to the various career pathways in government and politics. These events reached more than 200 students and emerging women leaders in 2021.