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What is the Climate Candidate Accelerator?

The Climate Candidate Accelerator is a three day, interactive virtual workshop with fellow climate champions across the United States, speakers and trainers. The Accelerator is both geared towards future candidates and people who want to support candidates in their races.

Our Accelerator covers: Deciding to run; network weaving; climate and environmental justice locally and at the state level; building blocks of the campaign; hearing from climate candidates and connecting with a climate candidates network

Our first Accelerator took place June 4 to 6, 2021 and our next Accelerator is scheduled for October 29 to 31, 2021. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Here is what our first Accelerator looked like:

Friday, June 4, 8:00PM – 9:30PM ET 

Who is a climate candidate? Get to know one another! 

8:00PM – 8:15PM Welcome to the accelerator!  

8:15PM – 8:45PM Icebreaker

  • Meet one another
  • Why do you care about climate and climate policy?
  • What do you want to get out of this? 
  • Why run? Why not run?
  • Sharing strengths and needs:
  1. What superpower do you already have? How can you help others? 
  2. What superpower do you need to acquire? How can others help you?

8:45PM – 9:05PM Community Charter

Saturday, June 5th 12:00PM – 5:00PM ET

Why run on climate 

12:00PM – 12:15PM Good morning! Good Afternoon! Welcome Back!

12:15PM – 1:30PM Running on Climate: Things you need to know before you get started 

Presenters: Rob Thomas, Climate Candidates Organizer and Crystal Li, Living Cities 

This is why we are all here: we want to run on climate ,win on climate and accelerate the adoption climate policies that reflect community needs and values. So, what does it actually mean to ‘run on climate?’ Most people do not understand how climate change affects their daily life, so how can you as a candidate make running on climate a winning issue? 

We believe it all starts with understanding why you are running for office, the seat you are running for, and your constituents and local-regional environmental justice -climate action issues. This session will explore how to engage on some of these basic questions with a guiding set of questions and exercises as you think about running for office. Whether or not you know what seat to run for yet, understanding how the seat you may run for ties to your community and constituent needs, connects your own personal story of why you are running for office and a run on climate. Climate Candidate Organizer Rob Thomas will lead this session. 

1:45 – 2:25pm Group exercise: Power Mapping

Step 1: Identify the problem you are trying to fix. 

What is at the essence? Is this a problem? For whom?

Expand your knowledge until you have a broad understanding of the issue and the forces involved.

Step 2: Identify the main stakeholders. These stakeholders generally include:

  • those responsible for creating the problem;
  • those who have the power to fix the problem but are not doing so;
  • those who are geographically relevant to the issue;
  • those who are working fix the problem;
  • and don’t forget to include you and your group, too.

Step 3: Research the stakeholders. 

There are some situations on your list, but institutions don’t make decisions, people do. So, you’ve got to find out who makes the decisions in those institutions. And then you’ve got to try to answer a few questions about these people: Do they agree or disagree with you on this issue? How much power do they have over this issue?

What questions do we need to research more? How can we use our relationships to find some answers to that question?

Do these people make our work harder?

Map stakeholders:



Identify your primary target.

Map power relationships between stakeholders, including the exercise candidate.

Step 4: review what you just did. What did you learn? What seemed difficult and where do you see opportunity? 

2:30PM – 3:30PM Dominic Frongillo, Elected Officials to Protect America

  • Running for Office 101: How climate professionals can win elected office and make change
  • Climate Professionals to Elected Officials: How to run for office and win change

In this dynamic session led by an award-winning elected official and climate champion, learn how to lead with your values, build your campaign, and win public office — and then how to use your elected office to make a difference in your community and beyond. Led by nationally-renowned former Caroline, New York councilmember and deputy mayor Dominic Frongillo, co-founder of Elected Officials to Protect America, you will hear real-life stories of how climate professionals who are elected officials champion policy, leverage media attention, shape public opinion, convene collations, and inspire change.

4:00PM – 4:40PM Climate Candidates Resource and Network Power Mapping  (Katie & Frances) 

  1. Candidate Trainings and Workshops
  2. Policy and Platform Development
  3. Communications (polling, messaging, press, web, and digital resources – including videos from other candidates you like!)
  4. Fundraising Campaign Tools (organizing voters etc.)
  5. Where to Seek Endorsements (Climate or Otherwise)
  6. Team building (power mapping, volunteer recruitment, creating your core team, defining roles)
  7. Climate Heros/Heroines 
  8. Climate Candidates who are running

Sunday, June 6, 12:00PM -4:00PM ET 

12:00 – 12:30 Good morning! Good afternoon! Welcome back! 

12:30PM – 1:30PM Winning Messages on Climate, Emma Fisher, Climate Cabinet 

Presentation by Climate Cabinet: Candidates with limited resources and time need help crafting winning political messages tailored to their districts and backed by the most recent science, health and economic data. Climate Cabinet helps candidates to draft climate policy platforms, websites, social media content, debate prep and connect candidates to local groups, and more. The team from Climate Cabinet will present their resources and highlight a few case studies of what works and doesn’t work in preparing a winning climate candidate campaign. 

1:45-2:45 Raising Money on Climate, Shanti Gonzalez, LCV & Tessa Lee 

Fundraising 101

Fundraising starts with a plan: 

Getting organized: implement your plan

The candidate is biggest fundraising asset  – use it wisely

2:45pm – 3:30PM  Endorsements Mandy Mahoney / Whit Jones, Lead Locally 

  • What is the value of an endorsement? 
    • Nationally, many orgs provide this. What will an endorsement from each bring? 
    • Orgs bring value by showing voters that they have credentials on the issues represented by the endorsing org. 
    • Orgs can bring volunteers to your campaign. Endorsements help get volunteers for phones and doors. 
    • They can donate from their PAC or encourage their members to give 
  • Four subgroups of endorsing orgs 
    • Environmental groups → Sierra, LCV, etc with local chapters 
    • National dem org → democracy for america, WFP, platform places 
    • Ethnicity-based orgs → Emily’s List, Rachel’s list, Victory Fund, etc 
    • Local labor councils, etc → potentially best candidates because of voter ties and volunteers 

3:30 – 4:00 Wrap Up 

Things Learned Today and this weekend! 

  • Start really early. Time helps! Find a community team. 
  • Mechanics of the campaign, toll on family, regional transportation authority is full of lawyers and engineers and he doesn’t want to come out of everything exhausted. 
  • Gloom and doom. How that has resonated with the idea of grieving. 
  • Younger demographics and how to communicate with them. In NYC, how to speak with younger voters in a way that resonates. Want to keep reflecting on that. 
  • There is a lot of opportunity to run on climate. Takeaway of how it intersects with so many other issues. 
  • Behind the scenes learning the key to figuring out how to run something in the weeds. 
  • Embracing the joy of campaigning. If you don’t find joy in talking to voters and the issues you should probably do something else. Have to replenish your soul! This weekend has been restoring. Running for Public Corporate Commission is to replenish soul and do the right thing. 
  • Plan! Planning is crucial. Gotta do it. 
  • What do we do on the weekends? How do we make sure our mountains, water, parks, preserves are protected? Think about protecting the things we love about the communities we live. 

If this sounds like something you would want to learn more about, apply today:

From our first Accelerator