Running for Office

Why You Should Run

As a non-partisan organization committed to empowering young leaders, the Y wants to ensure that all of our students and young professionals have the resources they need to consider running for elected office in their communities.

Not sure where to start? The organizations below (from across the political spectrum) provide training programs and other resources that help candidates run for office, as well as a list of books that you can read to learn more about the campaign process.

Many of these programs are targeted toward certain demographics or partisan affiliations political parties, and the Y only provides them as an informational resource as you begin your journey.


Resources for Running

American Majority
Conservative organization created to train conservative activists to run for office. Holds low-cost online training programs to train on running for office and improve skills to help you on the campaign trail. Also holds in-person training workshops for candidates and activists.

Progressive organization dedicated to training and supporting candidates and campaign staff through its training program, Arena Academy and conference, Arena Summit; a comprehensive and free toolkit of guides on campaign skills; and financial support for candidates.

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS)
National non-partisan, nonprofit 501c3 organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process.

The BLUE Institute
Trains Millennials of color in the South and Southwestern United States to become leaders, strategists, and key staff members of progressive electoral campaigns.

Collective PAC
Organization working to solve the issue of underrepresentation of African Americans in elected office. Runs the Black Campaign School, a multi-day training course.

Dare to Run
501(c)3 organization offering female college graduates the opportunity to participate in a two-year certificate program in pursuit of a career path in public service.

Democracy for America
Grassroots-driven progressive PAC that recruits and trains progressive candidates.

Emerge America
In-depth, seven-month, 70-hour training program to train Democratic women interested in running for office. The state-level courses meet one weekend a month and cover topics including public speaking and communication, fundraising, media and messaging, networking, and campaign strategy. Trainers are campaign staff from across the country.

EMILY’s ListProvides training and resources for local and state-level progressive women candidates. For federal and gubernatorial candidates, EMILY’s list puts staff and funding to work to assist with these campaigns. Runs a new online training center to help women learn how to run for office.

Gay and Lesbian Victory FundProvides support to LGBT candidates running for office, including assessments of campaign viability, campaign training, financial support from their PAC and donors, strategic and technical campaign support, and campaign consultants and staff. Victory Institute is the organization’s training wing.

GOPACProvides training and funding to conservative leaders. Includes the Emerging Leaders program, which identifies and trains state-level conservative leaders for a year to lead the party.

Higher Heights: Organization devoted to supporting Black women in politics. Hosts the webinar series #BlackWomenLead, a political training series for Black women.

Leadership Instituteprovides training to conservatives of all ages in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications.

Ignite: movement to build political power of young women by training young women in high school and college. Runs programs and training models in California, Texas, and Colorado.

Latino Victoryorganization committed to growing Latino political power in elected office.

Maverick PAC: network of business and political leaders focused on driving young people to the political process through fundraising and events.

National Democratic Training Committee“Free campaign training for every Democratic candidate, everywhere” in four different areas: building field plans, fundraising, message and media, and management. Free and online campaign training.

National Federation of Republican Womenprovides workshops, manuals, and trainings to Republican women interested in running for office.

New American Leaders ProjectTraining programs for first- and second-generation Americans who want to use their civic power. Programs include Ready to Lead, which teaches candidates how to use their heritage as a political asset; New American Fellows, a two-year fellowship selected from the Ready to Lead program that offers mentorship, political guidance, networking, and additional skill building; Ready to Win, which is advanced, boot camp-style training for New American Fellows and campaign staff; New American Leadership Academy, for newly-elected immigrant officials; and Power & Policy: New Americans in Elected Office, a conference which showcases legislative initiatives, offers networking opportunities, and enhances leadership skills.

New Leaders Councilorganization dedicated to training progressive Millennials and anchored by its NLC Institute, a six-month intensive training experience carried out by chapters in around 50 cities and states across the country.

Progressive Change Campaign Committeeprovides endorsements, small-dollar donations, and personalized trainings to PCCC-vetted candidates.

Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN): national organization with the sole focus of preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena.

Ready to RunRun by Center for American Women and Politics by Rutgers University, this program holds programs in different states using local experts on the political climate in those states.

ReflectUS Coalition: nonpartisan coalition of seven leading women’s organizations working to increase representation of women in politics.

Re:Power: (formerly Wellstone Action) organization dedicated to working with individuals and organization across the country to build inclusive politics, including through skills training and coalition building. Conducts a variety of training programs around campaign management, digital organizing, running for office, and governance.

RightNOW Women PACvolunteer organization helping to elect qualified women to federal office.

Run for Somethingprogram to support people under age 35 who want to run for office. Connects qualified people to training organizations, and provides staff and funding to worthy candidates. They have a database of campaign training programs at local, state, and national levels available on their candidate resources page.

Running StartNon-partisan movement to train young women to run for elected office.

She Should Run501(c)3 to encourage women from all backgrounds to run for office. This website offers free, online courses for women to gain leadership skills necessary for running for office.

Truman National Security ProjectOffers a free online course on how to run for office.

Veterans Campaignhosts training workshops to train veterans to run for public office. Also offers a MA in Public Leadership through the University of San Francisco.

VOICES of Conservative Womenholds run-for-office training for conservative women interested in public office.

Vote Run Leadoffers online resources and in-person trainings to women interested in running for office.

WeLeadRun by American University, WeLead is a four-day intensive training that addresses campaigns and elections, communication and message development, fundraising, public policy and government relations, and professional development.

Winning for Women501c4 dedicated to identifying and creating paths forward for women leaders who share core values of economic freedom and strong national security.

Women’s Public Leadership Network: nonpartisan organization providing “knowledge and resources to make running for elected office and engaging in the political process more accessible” for women, including webinar series on civic engagement topics.

Women’s Campaign School at Yale Universitynon-partisan, issue neutral program that runs multi-day campaign training programs for women interested in running for office or managing campaigns.


Books on Running for Office

  • “The Art of the Political Campaign: How to Run for Elected Office with no Money, Name Recognition or Political Connections,” Brian Duewel
  • “Becoming a Candidate: Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office,” Jennifer L. Lawless
  • “Campaign Boot Camp 2.0: Basic Training for Candidates, Staffers, Volunteers, and Nonprofits,” Christine Pelosi
  • “Don’t Just March, Run for Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing the System Yourself,” Amanda Litman
  • “How to Get Elected to State and Local Office: A Beginner’s Guide,” Timothy Hickman and Catherine Hickman
  • “How to Run for Local Office,” Robert Thomas and Barb Gunia
  • “How to Run For a Political Office and Win: Everything You Need to Know to Get Elected,” Melanie Williamson.
  • “The Political Campaign Desk Reference: A Guide for Campaign Managers, Professionals, and Candidates Running for Office,” Michael McNamara
  • “Represent: The Woman’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World,” June Diane Raphael and Kate Black.
  • “Run Jane Run…We Need You in Office!: Why Women Are a Natural fit for Politics and How to Get More of Them Elected,” Maria Rodriguez and Liz Samuel Richards
  • “Run: Your Personal Guide to Winning Public Office,” Marian Walsh
  • “Running, Winning, Serving: The Candidate’s Guide to Local Elections,” Craig W. Turner
  • “The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns,” Sasha Issenberg
  • “Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way: A Comprehensive Guide for Candidates and Campaign Workers,” Jeff Blodgett and Bill Lofy