strengthening our democracy through engaging and empowering ALL to be active citizens.

Listen to what one representative student had to say about our Empowering U program:

"I loved that class. It was deep and broad and outside the box. It did change me."

See the YouTube video of Heartland Democracy Founder Tom Vellenga giving a TEDx talk on Empowering U at a conference sponsored by the Blandin Foundation in September 2011:

We live in a time of polarized and paralyzed politics. Issues are distorted for political gain. Regular citizens feel cut out of governance. Heartland Democracy believes that broad, deep engagement on the part of citizens from all walks of life and various perspectives is critical to successfully attacking, and solving our common problems.

We use group discussions and other empowerment strategies to elp people understand their values, value the unique perspectives of others and take action on common goals to build stonger communities. We work with the full range of host organizations, from houses of worship to schools, from clubs to associations to community forums. We have tested these strategies in an urban high school, where participating student taught themselves how to become thoughtful, active citizens -- a curriculum we share and reproduce wherever we can.

Since 2012, Heartland Democracy has scaled up its civic empowerment program, Empowering U , in the St. Paul region in partnership with the F.R. Bigelow Foundation, The St. Paul Foundation, Twin Cities Rise!, 180 Degrees, and Ujamaa Place. The Bigelow Foundation renewed their commitment for 2013, and we have submitted several new proposals to organizations interested in supporting our work with New Americans and youth groups in Greater Minnesota in the coming year. With this additional funding, and your support, we will be able to reach more participants, expand our curricula, train more trainers, and work with additional partner groups. Empowering U provides participants with lifelong lessons, tools, and the motivation to get involved in community, politics, and government -- and to stay involved throughout their lives.

Empowering U was recently featured on KFAI's program "Truth to Tell" (link: One of our participants noted on that broadcast that,

"Empowering U opened my eyes.... Before, I wasn’t a person who volunteered or got involved, but the program made me realize I do have power, that it takes me."

Please be generous today not only to Heartland Democracy but to all of our allies who are helping to create systemic change today and every day.

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