Big Problems, Renewed Energy
The 21st century’s most pressing problems require new and innovative solutions. Political leadership incubators (PLIs) are working to shape the political leaders needed by people and the planet. These organizations have traditionally been called political training organizations, but we think PLIs is a better term for their work, which often goes beyond training and into nurturing and supporting politicians.
PLIs work in response to declining trust in democracy and align themselves with an optimistic vision for a new kind of politics bubbling on the streets. They work to give current and future politicians the skills and self-understanding they need to represent their communities well. PLIs currently work mostly in the pre-political space, that is they start working with leaders before they are elected.
This list is a thanks to incubators working to build representative and trustworthy politics. All listed here are non- or multi-partisan. Some work closely with parties; others keep an arm’s length.
Mapping the Field and Launching an Impact Network
This list offers just a glimpse of the field. Apolitical Foundation will release a mapping report including 420 partisan and non-partisan political training organizations around the world in May. Fifty non-partisan PLIs were interviewed for the report. We hope this list prompts others to join us in a network that will bring political training organizations together to have greater and faster impact. The network will also recognize and support the work of the many trusted politicians already serving their citizens well.
In the Spirit of Transparency
We’re connected to five incubators on this list through the Apolitical Academy Global—a joint project between Apolitical Foundation and the Daniel Sachs foundation. We acknowledge our affiliation with them and feel strongly that they too are ones to watch.
Help in the Middle East and East Asia
You’ll see we’re missing groups from some parts of the world. Please contact us if you know of independent, non-partisan incubators we’ve missed, especially from the Middle East and East Asia.
Spread the Word and Stay Updated
Please share this list via your communications channels, and sign up to our weekly briefing to read how people are building better politics around the world, to learn more about the mapping report, and get updates on the Building Better Politics Network.
Amujae Initiative - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development
Mission: “To inspire and prepare women to unapologetically take up roles and excel in the highest echelons of public leadership, and to bring other women along.”
Why we included them: For strengthening ties among a growing, experienced, and capable network of women public leaders; for their work changing public perceptions of women’s leadership and building a wave of support for greater women’s representation in Africa.
Echo Network Africa via their partnership with Democracy Trust Fund
Mission: “To partner with women, (including young women, women with disabilities and women from marginalized communities) to create a better society.”
Why we included them: For offering networking opportunities, political training, capacity building and civic engagement for Kenyan women.
Emerging Leaders Foundation
Mission: “The Emerging Leaders Foundation Africa (ELF-Africa) exists to empower, support and accompany young women and men to achieve meaningful, dignified and impactful participation in governance, economy and public affairs at all levels of society.”
Why we included them: For focusing on positive politics and providing a deep program preparing young people to run in Kenya’s 2022 elections.
Futurelect, an Apolitical Academy
Mission: “Our goal is to empower a new generation of ethical political and government leaders to solve the great challenges of our time and restore trust in elected officials and democratic systems.”
Why we included them: For their regional approach, focus on ethics, and inclusion of social and emotional support for public leaders.
Indian School of Democracy
Mission: “Indian School of Democracy is a non-partisan organization that conducts programs for aspiring, grassroots political leaders. We want to nurture principled leaders, with moral courage and imagination, to achieve sarvodaya (the economic and social development of a community as a whole, especially as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi).”
Why we included them: For a deep and varied approach to personal leadership development and for their intentional inclusion of marginalized groups.
Mission: “NETRI is India’s first incubator and aggregator for women in the political ecosystem that equips women to run for elections, become political professionals or political entrepreneurs, thereby increasing women's participation in decision-making.”
Why we included them: For their vision of a protective and empowering support structure for women in politics at every stage of their career.
Académie Des Futurs Leaders
Mission: “The Academy of Future Leaders accompanies citizen leaders fighting for social and environmental justice along their entry into politics.”
Why we included them: For their approach to selecting people with a proven record with community organizing and helping people leverage that work for political change.
Mission: “We’re on a mission to get brilliant women the funding they need to stand for election, and win.”
Why we included them: For developing partnerships with like-minded organizations to offer women clear pathways and support on their journey to elected office.
Brand New Bundestag
Mission: “We find the most capable, credible people in our country. We help them to be politically successful in our parliaments. Because only together, only if we stand together, can we overcome the immense challenges of our time. It's about more than political success - it's about our future.”
Why we included them: For their pioneering work highlighting talented, diverse candidates that German political parties may otherwise miss.
Bratislava Policy Institute
Mission: “BPI´s mission is to create and improve public policies, open debates on actual narratives, and consult trends and scenarios through independent, objective, non-partisan research.”
Why we included them: For their important work breaking down barriers to Roma communities running for politics.
Collège Citoyen de France
Mission: “The new school that prepares the public leaders of tomorrow. A course of excellence, with 200 hours to develop your project of civic engagement.”
Why we included them: For their deep commitment to recruiting people who normally don’t see themselves as having political potential and for their project-based approach.
Elect Her UK
Mission: “Elect Her is a non-partisan organization working to motivate, support and equip women in all their diversity to stand for political office in Britain. We support women throughout their political journey up until and including standing for election and also hold events focused on bringing specific communities of women into politics, such as Women of Colour, women with disabilities and women in rural locations.”
Why we included them: For working to make political training accessible to all women at scale via online programs.
Mission: “The Höj Rösten Foundation revitalizes Swedish democracy by transforming the great community involvement that exists among young people today into political influence.”
Why we included them: For their deep and transformative approach to political leadership and track record of including people from diverse communities driving community change.
Mission: “JoinPolitics empowers political talents who develop innovative solutions to the big challenges of our times and implement them politically. We support with seed capital, network and know-how.”
Why we included them: For providing seed capital to courageous and promising political talent, entrepreneurs and innovators.
Mission: “We promote, encourage and support the active participation of young people from disadvantaged and minority communities in British democracy and civil society.”
Why we included them: For their leading role in breaking down institutional barriers hindering young people from underrepresented communities and backgrounds in the UK.
Mission: “A Próxima Geração, an Apolitical Academy, is the first academy with a global context, non-partisan and non-profit in Portugal with the aim of revitalizing Portuguese democracy. At the moment, our main focus is to reinforce the role of young people, between 16 and 30 years old, as actors of democracy, through training programs.”
Why we included them: For their recognition of young people, focus on scientific literacy as a key skill in political leadership, and entrepreneurial approach to programming.
Mission: “REINVENT DEMOCRACY WITH US! A non-partisan movement to raise awareness and train all those who are far from democracy!”
Why we included them: For getting youth interested in running for local elections in France, especially in often left-out and disengaged communities.
Mission: “We want to inspire, empower and connect young people across the Caucasus to go into the political career path by giving them practical tools through a global program that is built on 25+ years of experience and state-of-the-art pedagogy.”
Why we included them: For advancing unifying political leadership training in a politically tense region.
Higher Heights Leadership Fund
Mission: “Higher Heights Leadership Fund is building a national civic engagement infrastructure and network to strengthen Black women’s leadership capacity. Higher Heights Leadership Fund is investing in a long-term strategy to expand and support Black women’s leadership pipeline at all levels and strengthen their civic participation beyond just Election Day.”
Why we included them: For their leadership in advancing the position of black women in key political leadership positions across the US.
Mission: “IGNITE is a movement of young women who are ready and eager to become the next generation of political leaders. IGNITE’s model moves young women to run and win, and it also dramatically increases their political engagement on every level. We know that programming is not enough: we need inspiring messages consistently reinforced and reflected in our culture – words which convey and compel young women to be politically motivated, and to declare their political ambition.”
Why we included them: For inspiring a movement of young, diverse women and offering new ways to engage in political change through the Power to the People, Police Oversight bootcamps and a partnership with SnapChat that reaches new audiences of young women and encourages them to become political leaders.
Institute for Future Legislators, The University of British Columbia
Mission: “The Institute provides intensive hands-on mentoring and training for anyone who seeks the experience and knowledge necessary to make a difference—whether at the local, provincial, or federal level.”
Why we included them: For offering effective and practical scenario-based learning on what it takes to be in Parliament.
Run for Something
Mission: “We provide a safety net for new and exciting progressive leaders—at all stages of their journey—helping them run efficient, strategic, grassroots, driven campaigns while feeling supported throughout the process.”
Why we included them: For offering quality, accessible online content to aspiring politicians and resources to peer organizations during the pandemic.
Politics in Colour
Mission: “Designed specifically to address the challenges and barriers facing people from under-served communities, our online workshops assist diverse Australians considering a career in politics.”
Why we included them: For their quality programming and political mentorship designed for Indigenous women, migrant women and women of color.
Women for Election Australia
Mission: “To provide non-partisan training events, workshops and networking opportunities to inspire and equip more women to run for public office in Australia.”
Why we included them: For their growing list of thousands of qualified women, who have been given the skills and confidence to run for office.
Alma Cívica, An Apolitical Academy
Mission: “Building the new generation of public leaders that Paraguay needs.”
Why we included them: For finding innovative ways to promote the inclusion of rural women and men in politics and to bridge the urban-rural political representation divide in the country.
Mission: “RenovaBR is a political training school maintained by ordinary citizens who believe in a healthier, more participatory and representative democracy.”
Why we included them: For their commitment to rigorous recruitment and screening processes that attract ethical and service-oriented leaders.
LGBTQI+ Victory Institute
Mission: “Victory Institute works to achieve and sustain global equality through leadership development, training, and convening to increase the number, expand the diversity, and ensure the success of openly LGBTQI+ elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.”
Why we included them: For building partnerships around the world with LGBTQI+ communities with the goal of turning activism into inclusive political change in the US, The Balkans, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Peru, Brazil and South Africa.
Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD)
Mission: “The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) works to promote peaceful, just and inclusive politics worldwide. Our approach across all our programs is unique and characterized by dialogue: we bring politicians from across the political spectrum together.”
Why we included them: For their worldwide network of democracy schools that inspire future politicians and nurture democratic culture.