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Within just four years, Amanda Nguyen, founder of Rise, served as the driving force behind getting 21 laws through Congress that help protect the rights of 40 million sexual assault survivors across the country. Now she wants to help other social movements gain similar momentum.
“Along the way … we figured out that our method of organizing is not only working, but is scalable to other issues,” says Nguyen, 27. “We have a blueprint for social change.”
The 2017 Forbes Under 30 finalist for Law & Policy is launching Rise Justice Labs, the first accelerator designed to help everyday people write about and advocate for their civil rights. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are among the organizations that together have provided $2 million in support of the accelerator launch. The free program will teach up to 15 fellows what Nguyen calls “Hope-a-nomics,” a model of community organizing that helped Rise, which she founded in 2014, aid rape survivors in navigating the American justice system.
Nguyen describes Rise Justice Labs as a “Y Combinator for civil rights issues.” She believes that leaders of social campaigns should think more like startup CEOs and receive similar support systems: “When tech entrepreneurs have a good idea they are able to pitch to venture capitalists to get funding,” she says. “Then they’re able to join accelerators to accelerate growth. That doesn’t exist for civil rights movements and so I’m changing that.”
Rise fellows will get coaches, mentorship and a stipend to cover the cost of their startup. They will have access to Rise office space where coaches will guide them through the Hope-a-nomics model, which involves researching the legislative landscape, refining legislative goals and drafting bill language. Perhaps the most valuable asset participants will receive is access to legislators, lawyers, lobbyists and other experts.
The Rise Justice Lab’s inaugural fellow is ZeroUSA, a gun violence prevention advocacy group founded by students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
While a student at Harvard, Nguyen was raped and in the aftermath, she learned firsthand how she and millions of survivors lacked rights, including access to critical information about their own rape kits. The experience inspired her in 2014 to launch Rise, which informs sexual violence survivors about their civil rights and helps them navigate the intricacies of the legal system. Thanks to Rise’s lobbying efforts, in 2016, the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill, which codified rights for rape survivors, was signed into law.
After the 2018 Parkland shootings a group of the school’s surviving students contacted Nguyen in search of advice and began studying Rise’s methods. The organization’s work with the Parkland students led Rise to transform its mentorship program into a full-fledged incubator, complete with coaches and curriculum.
“Studying the Hope-a-nomics curriculum has given us a proven blueprint on how to successfully craft and pass meaningful legislation,” said Robert Schentruphas, CEO and founder of ZeroUSA. “Additionally, the accelerator program has provided vital financial assistance to get us off the ground quickly and to allow for us to focus our energy first on legislative organizing, without having to worry about the issue of fund development right away.”
April 4, 2019 at 01:22PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs