Vote Run Lead receives $2 million grant from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

The nonprofit aims to empower more women to run for political positions.
Women in power: Vote Run Lead receives $2 million grant from MacKenzie Scott's Yield Giving
Posted at 9:39 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-21 14:48:24-04

DENVER — Vote Run Lead, a nonprofit organization committed to electing more women to office, was selected as one of the recipients of a $2 million gift from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Vote Run Lead supports women who want to run for public office. The organization trains them throughout their campaign. So far, 55,000 women have been trained through the nonprofit.

“Vote Run Lead is a fantastic organization that is changing what democracy looks like, and training women from all over the country to run for office. Because right now, we're 100 years away from parity. But we believe in most states, especially the nine that we're working in, we can get to parity in 10 years," said State Senator Faith Winter, D - Adams, Broomfield, and Weld Counties.

Winter has been a state senator for six years and worked in the Colorado House of Representatives for four years before that. She was a member of Westminster's City Council for seven years and has held public office since 2007.

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Winter works closely with Vote Run Lead and said it typically takes more time for women to raise the same amount of money as men. Winter said men are likely to receive higher donations, while women raise money more incrementally.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Colorado is ranked second for the highest percentage of women in the state legislature. Out of 100 lawmakers, 49 are women.

“We've really embraced women's leadership in the West, and Colorado's going to continue to embrace that," said Winter.

Colorado was the first state to elect women to a state legislature in 1894. Three women were elected to the House of Representatives — Clara Cressingham, Carrie C. Holly, and Frances Klock.

Across the nation, the number of women in state legislatures has steadily increased since 1980. In 2024, women account for just over 32% of state legislatures.

Winter understands the challenges women face when elected.

“I had both my children while serving in office. And if I had to answer one more time who was babysitting my children when I said my husband was parenting — that was frustrating," said Winter. “As a young mom facing those challenges and those barriers of people judging me as a young mom was really hard and felt really personal.”

Still, Winter has always known how important it is to have women as political leaders.

“Our democracy works best when we have a background of histories because what I face is different than what you face than what my constituents face," Winter explained. “When you understand what it's like to have kids in office, or what it means to go and ask for a day off when you need paid family leave, or what it means to negotiate rent with a landlord, you're going to come up with different solutions.”

Winter believes the money from Scott's organization will empower even more women to run for office.

"This is going to allow us to do that follow-up when you run into a hurdle. We're going to have a coach on the other end of the line that can talk to you and say, 'Oh, fundraising was hard. Let's try this. Communication was hard. Let's try this. You're in a tough primary. Let's try this,'" Winter said.

Ultimately, Winter and Vote Run Lead believe more women running for office leads to a better representation of constituents across the country.

“We need those stories at the table because it's really the stories that change hearts and minds," Winter said.

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