Movement updates

Sunrise General Movement Update: April 2022

WOW–it’s been a minute since our last Movement Leaders x All Hands Call and we’ve missed you! Sunrise has undergone so much change in such a short amount of time, and if we’ve seemed quiet these last couple of months, it’s because we’ve had our heads down while we’ve tried to find our bearings through this REALLY intense time of transition.  But during tough times, it’s more important than ever to be in community, and to ground in the culture and practices that remind us of why we’re in this work.

That’s why we held the April’s Movement Leaders x All Hands call on Wednesday, April 6th.  On this call, we not only created space to dive into important national updates around the organizational restructure, Sunrise 2.0 and our election work, but we also leaned into relationship building, reflection, celebration, and the launch of our NEW MOVEMENT SONG BOOK! Here is what we talked about:

National Updates

  1. Songbook
  2. High Level Organizational Updates
  3. Sunrise 2.0 Launch
  4. Electoral

National Updates

1. Songbook

The Sunrise Movement Song Book is a central, digital resource for Sunrise singing and song leading that contains lyrics and histories for many of our most widely-sung songs. It is also an intervention in Sunrise’s singing culture. In early 2020, a five-person team came together and defined the goal and parameters of this project. They sent out a survey to hubs for input on what songs are most widely sung in Sunrise. From 2020 to 2021, 20+ volunteers came together to research the song histories of each and a subgroup of volunteers wrote and compiled introductory and supplementary materials in support of the editing process. In 2022, a team came together to review all of the songs, their histories, and introductory materials for cultural appropriation. After this, the design team worked on graphic design and illustration for the songbook. We are now doing final proofreading and will be ready to unveil the Song Book next month, and you and your hub can have a copy!

2. High-Level Organizational Updates

Organizational Goals & Timeline
4 primary goals that are guiding our organizational actions right now:

  • Prepare the organization to powerfully launch 2.0 by a) restructuring our organization so that everyone has a clear role, team, and manager, and b) giving people time for rest so people can keep going for the long haul
  • Ratify and launch the new DNA so that hubs/chapters start organizing in the summer and are set up for powerful public campaign launches in January 2023
  • Elect 2+ Green New Deal Champions to Congress and defend the Squad.
  • Invest in our organizational operations work and team so that we can effectively support and execute on 2.0

The scope of these goals was determined by trying to do what is necessary to set us up for success in Sunrise 2.0 and our long-term organizing vision, without biting off more than we can chew or trying to move to urgently.

Budget Update

Sunrise has been in the process of adjusting our budget and plans for 2022, after we determined we wouldn’t be able to raise as much money as we were hoping to this year. Our ideal budget for this year was around $20 million, but we determined that a $15 million budget was the realistic and responsible cap to set, and our boards recently approved this number. Our team has been working hard internally over March to make cuts to our overhead expenses, adjust our programmatic plans, and work through a difficult process of reducing the size of our staff. We are on track for doing this and setting up Sunrise to be on a solid organizational footing heading into the launch of Sunrise 2.0.

Organizational Restructure

Since February, we’ve been undertaking a process to reduce our staff size from ~100 to ~65 by 2023. This entire process has been undertaken in consultation and collaboration with the Sunrise Staff Union (CWA). In March, 29 Sunrise Staff members opted to take “Buy-Outs” (i.e. voluntary layoffs) and currently, we are in a process of making decisions about additional staff layoffs to ensure that we are spending sustainably and have people to fill roles in our new staff structure. All departing staff members are being supported by 3 months of severance pay and health benefits.

By June, we expect to be entering our new Organizational Staff Structure with the staff team that will carry us through 2022. This new staff structure was created over March through a team that included staff in the union, across rank, with representation from the Movement Democracy Project Volunteer team. It was then reviewed by the Steering Team and is being discussed in union bargaining.

Union Contract Bargaining

Sunrise Staff formed a Union last year, and the first thing to do once a Union is formed is to lock in the initial Union Contract. We’ve been working on bargaining this contract for several months now, and we’re excited that we’re getting close to being done! We expect we’ll have the first Union Contract signed, sealed and delivered by early Summer (likely right around the start of June).

Impact on Movement Leaders

We know that over the last several months, you’ve been experiencing disrupted relationships and connections with the national staff team as folks have transitioned out or changed positions – making the organization harder to navigate. We also know that as we’ve focused internally, we’ve been less able to provide robust forms of organizing support or external strategic leadership than we have at points in the past.

We appreciate your tenacity, your commitment, your grace and your understanding as we’ve navigated this moment.  We feel really excited about Sunrise 2.0 and the potential this movement continues to have to effect really major change moving forward.

Staff transitioning out

Below is a list of the 29 staff who are transitioning, as well as guidance around how to navigate the national infrastructure as we continue to get into our new formation over the next month. 

  • Organizing Team – Quinn Naylor, Leah/Himma Spinner, Sam Dreyfus, Nikola Yager, Christina DuQue, Sara Blazevic, Brian Stilwell, Rachael Baker, Gabbi Pierce, Ashley McDermott, Shaunte Harris
  • Political & Partnerships – Zoe Cina-Sklar, Wally Mazon, Emily Isaacson, Joel Bravo, Alex Minassian
  • Communications – Nina Eichner, Nikayla Jefferson, John Paul Mejia, Ad Naka
  • Operations / HR / Data – Sarah Abbott, Margot Cohen, Halla Jones, Czeska Cabuhat, Shre Jethwanni, Destiney Mack, Autumn Vogel, Brittany Bennett, Ag Argeros

3. Sunrise 2.0 Launch

4. Electoral

In 2022, Sunrise will elect  Jessica Cisneros, Summer Lee, Kina Collins, Nida Alam, Erica Smith, and Greg Casar (and we are looking at our capacity to see if and where we may be able to add some people) in the 2022 Democratic Primaries.In the process, we will develop the organizing leadership of Sunrisers, tell the story of the GND, and demonstrate the power of the movement for the GND both in its ability to win races and to mobilize thousands of young people around exciting candidates from the community, running on our values. Our goal is to send exciting candidates to Congress who will be bold champions for transformative change. Young people are incredibly disillusioned and are only turning out for exciting, GND candidates. We must prove in Nov 2022 and 2024, that running GND champions wins elections, and young people are a vital component to winning seats – everywhere, and especially as climate disasters worsen. We are angry and empty promises, and we know that if we are going to win a Green New Deal in the new era of Sunrise, we need organizers in congress, and we need to elect those organizers by also building organizing power in our places. 

Pennsylvania program: We want a deeper investment in PA for 2022 to:

  1. Strengthen the movement here so we are capable of doing big things for years to come
  2. Experiment with 2.0 DNA
  3. Try to send a champion to Congress & a Democrat to the open senate seat

What we’ve been up to so far:

  • Landed a birddog against corporate Dem candidate for Senate
  • Statewide endorsement process wrapping up today
  • About to launch C4 canvassing program with a statewide training
  • Pittsburgh hub doing an IE for Summer Lee as a way to develop their hub
  • Learning to fundraise
  • Planning a Summer Camp because many of our leaders are graduating HS & College this semester

How can you support us? Join our People-who-don’t-look-like-Conor-Lamb-supporters phonebank for Summer Lee!!

Victory Cup

The Victory Squad is a community of young people across the country that is coming together to channel our power into electing Green New Deal champions. We’re talking to voters, identifying supporters, and connecting people to organizing through phonebanking and textbanking. The more voters we contact…the more likely we are to win! 

As a movement we made over 700,000 voter contact attempts in Texas-28, but did you know that VSC contestants sent over 110,000 texts and filled 40 phone banks? And now that we have endorsed new candidates, we will be holding a new Victory Squad Cup Jessica Cisneros, Summer Lee, Erica Smith and Nida Allam. For the month of April & May (April 1 – May 24), we’ll run this competition to see which team of Sunrisers can do the most to bring in more political power victories in 2022!

Participate in the Victory Cup Squad HERE

Read next: