The Blueprint: Bringing the High School Caucus to New Heights


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This Blueprint is laid out step-by-step so we can effectively address current issues HSDA members see in the High School Caucus, provide solutions, and report how we will expand and further the High School Caucus after the initial problems are fixed. This plan is not meant to indict anyone of mismanagement, but rather to identify how to fix the current problems facing the High School Caucus.

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The Blueprint: Bringing the High School Caucus to New Heights

  1. 1. The Blueprint: Bringing the High School Caucus to New HeightsThis Blueprint is laid out step-by-step so we can effectively address current issuesHSDA members see in the High School Caucus, provide solutions, and report how wewill expand and further the High School Caucus after the initial problems are fixed.This plan is not meant to indict anyone of mismanagement, but rather to identify howto fix the current problems facing the High School Caucus.As the problem revolves around a lack of accountability within the organization, thereis an inherent need to overhaul existing reporting structures and organization in orderto ensure efficiency and long term organizational development. This will require aregular reporting system from the state to national level as well as a fully functioningevaluation system. Furthermore, a bureaucracy must be created to give membersrelative mobility throughout the year. This system will ensure that tasks will bedelegated by not only the national chair but by all regional and state directors.While enhancing our organization’s infrastructure, we will set a new informationsystem in place in order to sustain expansion and ensure accountability. Finally,Strategic Planning sessions by the Executive Board will call for a regular reevaluationof all structures, programs, and initiatives. Consistent re-evaluations will ensure thatthe organization continues to grow internally, is in check with its political andeconomic environment, and may cut all unnecessary and inefficient programs.What effect will this have?This will have the immediate effect of jumpstarting progress towards our realgoal: new chapter creation to extend the ideals of the Democratic Party. Once peoplesee that the new administration is making progress, we will increase our credibility asan organization and bring new members into the High School Caucus.
  2. 2. YDA High School Caucus By-LawsOne of our first actions at the head of the caucus will be to revamp, with theconsultation and input of the Executive Board, the National Committee, and YDAstaff, our current by-laws. We would like to hold a “National Brainstorm” in orderto make this a more collaborative experience much like we have done with ourcampaign’s “People’s Platform”. This will allow us to address the issues that concernthe members of the High School Caucus. We will immediately post our finalized by-laws on our website in order to avoid any sense of ambiguity or secretiveness fromcaucus procedures, elections, and business.Deadline: September 2011New PositionsThere is an apparent need to increase the number of leaders who will help us executeour plans for the High School Caucus. Not only will these new leaders bring a rangeof expertise but also more opinions to the table. We are aware that creating too manypositions often leads to inefficiency and have taken time to evaluate each role and itsrespective responsibilities. Our new by-laws will reform our caucus by creating thefollowing essential National Staff positions:Finance Director- According to the current by-laws of the High School Caucus, theCommunications Director is responsible for taking care of both finances andcommunicating with our membership. Because our team hopes to greatly increase ourfinancial activities and maintain better communication, these tasks are too much forone person to handle alone efficiently.Political Director- With the 2012 elections right around the corner, we would like tobegin mobilizing students across the nation to ensure Democratic victories. ThePolitical Director will work closely with the Communications Director and RegionalDirectors to organize campaign volunteers across the nation.Regional Directors- These positions will be reinstated according to the region’soutlined on the YDA’s website. They will be responsible for communicating withtheir respective states on a frequent basis and reporting activity to the ExecutiveBoard every two weeks. If state leaders have any questions, regional directors shouldbe available to answer them or direct leaders to someone who can.Applications for these positions will be ready and available the day following theconclusion of the National Convention. Leaders will be selected based onexperience and achievements, though we will try our best to maintain diversity(geographic, racial, gender) within our administration.
  3. 3. National, State, and Local RecruitmentBy the end of our term in 2012, it is our objective to create strong, established localHigh School Democrats chapters in over 400 high schools across the nation.All reforms we plan to make within the caucus will be rendered useless without astrong network of local chapters, making recruitment our major objective. Therecruitment process must be the foundation of local chapters as our members are thepillars upon which the High School Caucus stands. Without having a strongfoundation supporting the caucus, we simply will not be able to carry forward thevision, objectives, and goals of the Young Democrats of America and the DemocraticParty as a coalition. Therefore, the Executive Board and the National Committee mustensure that the process for membership is streamlined directly to local chapters.We will continue using the simple process for chartering state organizations outlinedin the current by-laws of the High School Caucus. State leaders from un-charteredstates will be sought out through other Democratic organizations and existingcontacts.Deadline: July 2012Connect, Network, Structure, and Build the Caucus UpBased on our own experiences, in addition to what we have heard from chapterleaders across the country, it seems that we need to not only expand the caucus butalso focus on building the caucus up. This is precisely what we plan to do if we areelected. The National Executive Board should be a way to tie the state groupstogether and create new programs, as opposed to dictating from the top. Naturally, wedo not believe in “trickle down” organizing. The core of our platform begins with re-developing and re-imagining the caucus. It will be an immediate priority to build thestate, county, and local chapter system nationwide. However, we aim to increase thenumber of quality chapters, not just the quantity of chapters.This chapter network will be tightly knit together through the heavy use of newinternet mediums, regular interaction and relationship development amongst thenational team and local-level leaders, a database of all active contacts in the caucus,and a streamlined feedback system leading all the way to the Chair of the HighSchool Caucus.Deadline: August 2011. We will begin contacting existing organizations. (SeeExpansion for more info regarding dormant chapters.)
  4. 4. ExpansionAs a national organization, we feel it is necessary to establish ourselves in a greaternumber of states across the country. One of our team’s priorities is to grow ourorganization by expanding to unchartered states. Many of our current chartered statechapters are concentrated in particular regions. With California as the only charteredstate chapter on the West Coast, it is clear that we have much work to do. We willbranch out to these states and form new state chapters through a two-step process. 1. Finding High School Democrats to form chapters. There are an incredible amount of High School Democratic clubs who have no idea that we (or even their own state’s Young Democrats) exist. By using methods such as Facebook and Twitter to find active High School Clubs, we will find leaders to charter their own High School Caucus. 2. Providing a “jump start” to fledgling caucuses. This means that we will work with these new leaders to build bases in their states by sharing resources in order to help them write their own state chapter constitutions, maintain membership information, and prepare for local and state campaigns.We will also revitalize dormant chapters in chartered states. Many state caucuses inour organization lose momentum when their leadership graduates. We will work withstate leaders to make sure that their leadership transitions run as smoothly as possible.While we are not blind to the fact that High School activism is at its strongest duringelection years, we do not want caucuses to lose momentum during years betweenelections. It is important to understand that years between elections are essential forpreparing for campaigns. We will make this point clear to all dormant chapters byalerting them of opportunities to take part in early local and state campaigns.Public Awareness CampaignThe primary goal of the High School Caucus is to promote, strengthen, and build thebase of the Democratic Party, a task far easier accomplished when a majority of ourtarget audience knows everything about us. It is always in the best interest of anorganization to have the best minds working in it, but this is often not possible whenmany are unaware of an organization or its functions. We will begin a massive publicawareness campaign through state and county-level Democratic and Democraticyouth organizations, as well as new-media sources and press outlets, to educate thegeneral populace about the functions and abilities of the High School Caucus. Thefinancial requirements of this campaign would be covered by our aggressivefundraising program (see Fundraising)We plan on achieving awareness by implementing the following methods:
  5. 5. 1. Extensive use of the High School Democrats of America Facebook Group and a forum on our National Website.These tools will foster the sense of an all inclusive team that is comprised of everysingle member of the High School Caucus nationwide. It will also help to spread themessage of the High School Caucus to non-members and potential members. 2. Nationwide and membership-wide conference callsBi-Monthly informational conference calls will be held to discuss currentinformation, news, awareness and political campaigns, activities in each state, etc.Lines will be kept open for members to voice their concerns. Separate conferencecalls for each region will allow the Executive Board and Regional Directors to take amore personal approach when talking to members and addressing concerns. 3. Weekly Newsletters to membersWill be emailed, posted on website and Facebook Group, and linked to partnerorganizations with meeting minutes, current activities of the High School caucus,current issues (and where the High School Democrats lie on said topics/ issues/situations), AND how members can help within their local chapters. 4. Ads in newspapers, links on websites, etc.For example, links to the High School Democrats Webpage from the YDA and DNCWebsite, as well as printed Ads in periodicals such as The Nation, and local areanewspapers.National WebsiteThe lack of communication between the National and State High School Caucuseshas not only caused confusion and misunderstanding in the past, but has been ahindrance in the overall growth of the High School Caucus. In order to resolve thisissue, we hope appoint a Technology Director within the first month of ouradministration. The Technology Director will maintain our National Website( ) which will feature resources for state and local chapters so thatwe may expand the High School Caucus to every state. Comprehensive “How-to-Guides” and “Start-up Kits” will offer guidelines and helpful tips such as holdingefficient meetings, increasing member involvement, sample constitutions, and contactinformation for each state’s senators and representatives to make the process ofcontacting your state leadership easier. This new website will also feature a forumthat will be accessible by all members. It will allow direct communication throughoutthe entire country which will result in a stronger bond between the National and StateHigh School Caucuses. We also hope to offer additional pages for every state caucus,so that their state leadership is always within reach.Deadline: October 2011
  6. 6. Becoming a Campaign CoalitionWe will create a nationwide infrastructure that will make the caucus a force to bereckoned with by the 2012 election, by which time the caucus should be an integralpart of President Barack Obama’s re-election efforts. This infrastructure will consistof organized, ready, and efficient groups of student volunteers (local chaptermembers) to help in their local, state, and any national Democratic campaigns duringelections. The newly appointed Political Director (please see New Positions) will helpeach State Caucus keep track of all local and state elections where contact withindividual campaigns can be made to provide students as volunteers/interns in eachcampaign. As an organization, we will work closely with Students for Barack Obamato pool our efforts and possibly draw more high school students into High SchoolDemocrats. With the implementation of this system, the High School Caucus canmaximize its massive network and resources, and can truly be a powerful force inelections and internal Party decisions.FundraisingDue to the current financial climate, the YDA and High School Caucus have seensignificant decreases in their budgets. This has caused a major setback for the HighSchool Caucus as we simply cannot proceed with our plans without the properfunding and financial support. It is imperative for the High School Caucus to executefundraising on a local, state, and national level so that we may contribute to nationalconventions, compensate travel expenses, raise money for incentives, and coverwebsite upgrades. Money will make life a lot easier for everyone in terms ofdelegating responsibility and being organizationally efficient.Our ideas: Develop relationships with elected officials to coordinate fundraisers with local chapters Create an annual fundraiser the night after the High School Leadership Academy which will draw all active democrats in the DC area for the event to assist us financially Develop relationships with businesses for financial assistance Build more relationships with the county and state parties to provide small financial donations to the organization Meet with ActBlue to set up each state’s account Develop relationships will union locals in the chapter areas, and the national laborOrganizations Create a fundraising guide for individual chapters to consultWe will bring back transparency and accountability to the budget and financialmatters of our caucus. By doing so, we will be creating a strong annual budget thatwill successfully promote the ideas and desires of the High School Caucus.
  7. 7. Deadline: Our Finance Director will begin drafting a Fundraising Strategy andBudget with the Executive Board as soon as he or she is appointed.Strengthening RelationshipsBesides our ties to businesses and organizations for fundraising, we would also like todevelop a closer relationship to the College Caucus/ College Democrats in collegetowns. Not only will this help us draw in more members into our caucus, but will alsogive colleges more potential members in the future. The College Democrats are veryopen to high school students attending their events which will increase opportunitiesfor students to participate in Democratic conferences, locally. We would also like toconnect state HSDA organizations to each state party to increase our credibility as anorganization and to give students an outlet to take action in their communities.Deadline: We have already been in contact with College Democrats and StateParty leaders regarding this goal. The Political Director will begin to helpconnect state HSDA organizations to their respective state Party as soon as he orshe is appointed.Incentives to Take ActionOur chief goal is to increase membership involvement and activity throughout theHigh School Caucus. We aim to achieve this by presenting incentives that wouldpromote friendly competition through initiatives such as “The Most Active HighSchool State Caucus” program. This annual competition will promote local and stateinvolvement in the High School Caucus by offering the winning caucus a dinnerbanquet with a high ranking official, and national recognition. The High SchoolCaucus will also present awards in YDA conventions and conferences (on non-convention years) to individuals and state caucuses that have exhibited exemplaryabilities in advancing their High School Caucuses, financial responsibility, increasedmembership, and have achieved and sustained active members for the duration of theyear. Application forms of nominations for such awards will be available on thenational website three months prior to convention/conferences. By doing this we hopeto create enthusiasm and increase activity in the High School Caucus whilerecognizing the hard work that members put into the organization every year.Deadline: Applications for these contests will be publicized four months prior toeach convention/ conference beginning with the next National YDA event.