You are a talented human with a broad set of skills. You can speak, write, pitch, and persuade. You can make a Power Point, or make art.
You work every day, solving problems. You get a ton done.
Now, let’s say you suddenly became terrified for the world’s future. What would you do?
You can call Congress, or attend a protest. And you should. But is that it? Why stop there? Why set aside everything you’ve learned, everything you are, to be simply one more terrified person on a phone line, or marching in a street?
What if you did the following, as well?
- Pick an issue area you care about.
- Find other people you are excited to work with. (We can help.)
- Do activism full-time using every connection, skill, tool, and trick at your disposal—until you win.
This is a proposal for defending the world. And it's a good one. If you’re feeling like the world needs defending right now, keep reading.
Yes. This may not be obvious, but it’s true: many of your powerful, hard-won skills are highly transferable to the work of political action.
If you’re a designer, you can make things that spread like wildfire on the web, rally millions, and focus the public’s attention on your issue.
If you’re a software developer, you can build creative new ways for people to come together—at key moments—and grab media attention, or apply pressure to policymakers.
If you’ve got experience in writing, journalism, or communications, you can make moves that dominate the media narrative on an issue, and surround policymakers with your framing of an issue.
And of course, if you already have experience in activism or in policymaking, you may already have great instincts about how to move decisionmakers on an issue.
We write this as two people who have been doing this work for some time.
For years, we’ve been practicing the approaches that suddenly, more than ever, every issue needs: approaches that achieve surprising upset victories, against the odds.
The world has been getting... weird lately. But new, massive opportunities to make it better are emerging all the time. So the world needs teams like ours, in every issue area. We need some company out here.
We’ve launched one A-Team so far which was focused on creating a digital strategy to pass NY Health Act, a bill for single payer healthcare in New York state. In order to launch more A-Teams, we are focused right now on finding people who could be a strong match for one of our co-founder roles. These are full-time, salaried positions with benefits. If a contract set-up is better for you, that works too.
A-Teams Political Strategist Co-founder: We are seeking the founding political strategist and campaign director to lead an A-Team. You should have a strong, insider-level understanding of the political process, but with an outsider’s optimism, creativity, and ability to speak about issues in ways that resonate with other outsiders, such as the public or any key constituency you need to move. Is this you? Read more and apply here: A-Teams Political Strategist Co-founder
A-Teams Technical Co-founder: We are seeking the founding technical leader for an A-Team. You should be supremely comfortable making and launching novel and creative additions to people’s online life, whether for web, mobile, or walled gardens like Facebook. Can you build stuff for web and mobile that looks good, works well, and speaks to people with a strong, clear voice? Read more and apply here: A-Teams Technical Co-founder
A-Teams Design Co-founder: We are seeking the founding designer / front-end developer for an A-Team. Your role will be to explain complex issues—and get people to take effective political action—using design, copy, and code. We’re looking for someone with very strong visual and interaction design skills who can move from mockups to HTML/CSS, or design directly in code. Read more and apply here: A-Teams Design Co-founder
Not a fit for any of these roles? As we launch more A-Teams, we’ll be looking for additional team members, so feel free to email us with project ideas or more about you. We’re happy to keep you in mind for future teams and may want to talk sooner.
The name of our organization is Fight for the Future. Our names are Holmes Wilson and Tiffiniy Cheng. For the past 5 and a half years we’ve been toiling away on a previously somewhat obscure set of political issues facing the Internet.
During that time, we helped create two of the biggest victories for grassroots power in the past decade: the 2015 victory for Net Neutrality and the 2012 victory against SOPA & PIPA.
Neither was supposed to be winnable. Insiders said we were crazy to even try.
Both were against the most powerful corporate lobbies in America: the media and pharmaceutical lobbies (MPAA and PhrMA) on SOPA/PIPA, and then the cable and telecom lobby (NCTA) on Net Neutrality.
Claiming credit is dubious business. But in both cases, we're pretty sure victory wouldn't have happened without interventions we created, and many knowledgeable insiders agree. (These were team efforts, so there are several organizations and individuals for whom the same is also true—that is, that we wouldn't have won without them.)
We did this with a tiny fraction of the resources and conventional power our opponents enjoyed. We're two friends from high school. There have been 5-10 people with us on our team—some of the best people we've found to do this kind of activism. We do most of our activism online, but we organize real-life protests sometimes too. We’re funded by donations (large & small) but when we started our careers we were entirely unfunded, doing it for the pure pleasure of winning.
We believe our experience—of big victories on small budgets—puts us in a special position to make a proposal, to everyone on the planet trying to answer the question "Oh my god, what should I do?"
If you’re looking for an answer to that question, keep reading, or apply.
You probably have some questions!
Yes! And yes, we know, evaluating the realness and good faith of things you see on the Internet is hard. But we are real activists with a real organization that does real campaigns. Check us out and Google us to get a feel for who we are. Or send us an email.
Activism Teams, or A-Teams, are new, small, interdisciplinary teams focused on defending or improving some aspect of the world.
An A-Team is like a special ops team for activism, with all the skills needed to create political change.
A-Teams can write persuasively; speak with a strong voice online (with design, images, video, and code); size up their target’s internal power structures and weaknesses; and build strategies to rally the public, focusing collective action at the right pressure points, at the right time.
When you work in politics, it’s shocking how incomplete most political pushes are, even major ones.
This is easy to observe. How many major, upcoming issues have an excellent, digestible explanation online? How many pair that explanation with something simple and meaningful that the average person—once convinced—can go out and do? Google it: Obamacare, Immigration, Deportation, Medical Marijuana. Not many issues have a clear, prominent source for information and action, do they?
At a time like this, is that acceptable? No way.
A-Teams can rapidly fill these gaps, and that’s just the beginning.
A-Teams shine at building a drumbeat of stories and moments. They can organize provocative, interesting collective action that grabs the public’s attention, and ensure their target is getting pressure from all necessary angles. That's how we turned the tide against SOPA.
Then they can do it again and again, riveting public & press attention and overwhelming the ability of the adversary—whether an industry lobby, or an administration—to spin a counter narrative. That's how we won net neutrality.
A-Teams shine at rapid response. When a story breaks, conventional organizations respond with a tweet, an email, or a press release. But A-Teams make something epic happen, fast. Protests all around the country. Some creative symbol of support or resistance, on social media, the streets, and local news. That's how we responded when the FBI wanted an iPhone backdoor.
A-Teams work great when a large number of people want something to happen (or not happen) but entrenched power, corruption, or the status quo is pushing the other way. Fueled by that shared collective intent, staring at a political barrier, A-Teams find a way through to the other side.
As an A-Team, you pick an issue that matters, and try to win tangible, significant changes. And actually do it. The Internet has changed the game on what we can achieve. Once you go full-time—or start volunteering for people who are—you’ll be shocked at what you achieve. We promise.
It doesn’t matter the issue. Social change can come from media pressure, large mobilizations, small groups of insiders, influential outsiders, righteous narratives, technological shifts, or simply the discovery and spread of some big new idea. In most cases it’s some combination of some or all of these, over a period of months or years.
The cool thing is, all of these factors are things a typical human can figure out how to influence. So think of them as levers of change, levers you can learn to pull. It just takes time and dedication, focusing on a problem enough to figure out what action is going to fix it and how.
This isn’t any secret; it’s how the most powerful lobbyists, advertisers, and public relations firms have worked since their inception.
This is a much better question, though it’s a harder one to answer.
Since there are a million things to do, it’s usually best for A-Teams to focus on issues behind major human problems, or places where humanity is at risk of really, deeply screwing up.
You have to use your instinct and play to your strengths. Where can you have the most impact?
Here are just a few examples of A-Team objectives that could be crucially important right now.
- Healthcare / ACA
- The Wall
- Voting Rights
- Racism / Fascism
- Ending the drug war
- Voting rights / Voter supression
- Foreign policy
- Economic populism
- Renewable energy
- Food & agriculture
If one of these interests you, or if you have another objective you’re burning to pursue, let us know. Note: you don't need to have a specific project idea to apply, If you do, we are happy to discuss it, but if not, we can figure that out later. Your skills and motivation are what matters most.
We plan to fund each A-Team position for at least a year, assuming founders produce campaigns at the level we expect.
After that first year, if the A-Team is successfully producing hard-hitting campaigns, we expect the team to spin out into its own organization.
We've seen firsthand that once you start making a big impact on an issue area, there are lots of ways to get funding. If you’re operating in a space where there are existing nonprofit organizations, you can figure out where they get funding, make friends with them, and be helpful to them. Your costs as a tiny team are so much lower than theirs, so you can get by on much smaller grants, or just one or two large ones. Once you prove your usefulness, some coalition allies will want to keep you in the game, and they’ll likely give you pointers on funding.
As you start to build large audiences, you can ask them to donate, too. And look out for individuals or organizations who support what you’re doing and might be able to give more. If you’re doing something really cutting edge, individual supporters might be the best fit at first. The world is a random place and very political people become wealthy sometimes. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the donors you find.
The world isn’t short on funding. It’s short on people who can take a donation of $100,000 or $1,000,000 and actually change the world in some big way. Once you learn how, and have a track record, you'll find funding if you look. And we're committed to helping each new team do just that.
If you already have a small activism team making a big, measurable impact but you’re having problems fundraising, then definitely be in touch. We can very likely speed up your search for funding.
Have a question? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to be a part of this? Check out the openings above and apply.
That’s all for now. We can tell you more about where to focus and how to win. But right now you’ve a choice to make. You can keep calling Congress, and keep showing up at local vigils when something disastrous happens. (And you should.) But you can also take your skills, build a team, and do something much, much bigger.
Should I skip the rest of the page and just read this FAQ?
No! Definitely read the whole page :) This is just where we're putting responses to some common questions.
Where is the money coming from?
Fight for the Future for now, and we're looking for more funding for more teams, and longer runs.
How does compensation work?
This is a full time position. Compensation is market rate and commensurate with skills and experience either through a contract rate or a salary (with full health care benefits), depending on what works best for you.
Do you have a timeline/commitment in mind for the co-founder role?
We can talk about this during the interview process, but are open to discussing what works best for you.
How does the structure of an A-Teams work and will you help match me with a co-founder?
We know the ideal set-up for an A-Team’s leadership is a Political Strategist working with either a Technical or Design Co-founder which is why we’re looking for both types of candidates. If we decide you are strong match for one, we’ll help match you with the other co-founder during interview process and finalize the political issue and opportunity as well. You’ll need other members (volunteers and potentially part-time contract staff, depending on the plan) for your team and part of your role will be to recruit the rest of your team. But we can help with that too.
If you have ideas for co-founders you would like to work, by all means, encourage them to apply!
Are you funding other things, like films, TV shows, apps, books, software projects, journalism, community spaces, etc?
Nope. Just A-Teams. We're looking for a single-issue focus, a political opportunity, and a strategy for winning which includes tapping into the power of the Internet.
There are many other valid ways to change the world of course, but we think this particular one (A-Teams) is very effective and not getting used as much as it should. We want to change that, and our resources are limited, so we have to stay focused on this singular mission.
Do I really have to send in an application?
That would be best, but if you have questions or just want to introduce yourself, email us: email@example.com
What's your metric for success, for a team?
Ultimately, policy change, or a significant shift in the national debate. Or, on a shorter timeline, at least the precursors to policy change: visible, palpable political pressure on important targets.
What's your metric for success, for yourselves?
Being able to make a dozen solid new A-Teams happen on top issues while continuing work in our issue area (Internet freedom) would be a solid success. If that works, we think we’ll be able to go much farther. We think the limiting thing will be finding the right people, and the right structure.
How many groups will you try to create?
As many as we can, but we want to have some significant level of contact with each group in the first months/year at least so probably half a dozen teams in the first year.
Are you funding teams outside the US?
No, just US based teams. If you live outside the US, feel free to email us. We can potentially match you with a team as a volunteer or work with you on FFTF campaigns.
Is there a deadline?
The next application deadline is Tuesday, May 1st. But apply soon because the world moves fast.
Is this a scam?
Do A-Teams have to use the Internet in some way?
Yes, but that doesn't mean you need any technical expertise to start. Part of what we think is happening now is that the Internet has made collective action much easier, creating all kinds of new opportunities for creative activism. So if you can code that's great (some of us are learning now using this delightful book) but you really just need to be able to write, and speak, and think about how to use whatever skills you have to tap the Internet's potential. (But you should definitely be able to think creatively about how to use the Internet to help you win. It's a very big deal.)
What do you get out of this?
Epic victories we will die knowing we helped make happen. Also, more company! We're committed to remaining small. This is our way to grow: helping start other A-Teams.
Our stretch goal is that we can make starting an A-Team a thing people know they can do, the way doing a startup, working for a community-based nonprofit, or going to grad school are things people do.
What if I don't get the job?
Please, find some way to keep doing it anyway. The world needs you.