Last week, when NPI turned fifteen, I said I’d soon be sharing some exciting news about NPI’s future as well as next steps for the development of progressive political infrastructure here in the Pacific Northwest.
Today, I’m excited to announce that after fifteen years, NPI has gained a sibling: the Northwest Progressive Foundation.
Our objective in forming the Foundation is to give several of NPI’s existing and planned projects their own organizational home, so that NPI can embrace the philosophy of less, but better. Research-driven advocacy is what NPI has always been about, which is why NPI is organized as a social welfare organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
If you’re at all familiar with federal tax law, then you know that social welfare organizations are legally allowed to engage in unlimited grassroots lobbying, which 501(c)39) charitable organizations cannot do.
A 501(c)(3) organization may, however, be organized for religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes (or in addition to) charitable purposes, defined by the IRS to mean causes like the relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged. A 501(c)(3) is also permitted to focus on fostering national or international amateur sports competition and and preventing cruelty to children or animals.
Accordingly, together with State Senator Manka Dhingra, NPI boardmember Keitha Bryson, founding/retired NPI boardmember Ralph Gorin, and NPI Commonwealth Bondholder Rich Erwin, I have formed the Northwest Progressive Foundation to undertake the educational projects that NPI has on its roadmap.
Our Articles of Incorporation were filed last week on the very day NPI turned fifteen. The Articles have since been approved by the Secretary of State.
Here are the complete set of purposes for which the Foundation was formed, as stated in the Articles of Incorporation:
- Provide civics education and activism training to people who would like to become more engaged in the politics of the Pacific Northwest and the U.S.;
- Encourage citizens to vote and take seriously jury duty obligations when called to serve;
- Create tools that anyone can use to more effectively research current events, proposed public policy changes, and issues affecting our communities;
- Promote awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the founding documents that underpin our system of government, including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the constitutions of states like Washington, Oregon, and Idaho;
- Teach reframing skills and language arts to activists, candidates, and elected officials;
- Equip the public with factual, reliable, and evidence-backed information about the usefulness and effectiveness of local, state, and federal public services;
- Organize events and facilitate opportunities to learn about inequities in our current system of laws, especially inequities in our tax codes and criminal codes;
- Support efforts to translate English-only civics texts into other commonly-spoken languages.
For practical reasons, the Foundation will initially focus on creating and sustaining a single project from NPI’s roadmap… most likely Activism Matters.
Our aim with Activism Matters is to provide a hub for the teaching of skills needed to be an effective activist. If it were up to me, these skills would be taught in our public schools as part of a basic course in civics.
But as most readers of the Cascadia Advocate probably know, the civic curriculum currently available to our youth is sorely lacking.
We need to plug the gap as best we can.
Activism Matters courses will primarily be offered online through the very same learning management system (or LMS) used by Washington’s public colleges and universities, so that people with day jobs can participate on their own schedule, but there may be in-person learning opportunities offered from time to time as well.
If you are well versed in an essential activism skill (like writing letters to the editor, grassroots lobbying, petitioning, or organizing events) and would be interested in teaching that skill as a volunteer instructor with Activism Matters, then we would welcome hearing from you.
I will have another update on the Foundation’s formation in a few weeks once we are further along. In the meantime, NPI’s essential work will continue.
Thanks to everyone who came out for our Fifteenth Anniversary Picnic last night… we so appreciate you! If you couldn’t make it but are able to make a donation to NPI or become a member, we invite you to do so today.