Building a people-powered movement to save the free and open internet

Team Internet Free Press Verizon Day of Action
 
 

Free Press is a national, nonprofit organization fighting for everyone's rights to connect and communicate.

The organization works to create a world where people have the information and opportunities they need to tell their own stories, hold leaders accountable, and participate in our democracy. They fight to save the free and open internet, curb runaway media consolidation, protect press freedom, and ensure diverse voices are represented in our media.

The Free Press Action Fund is their 501(c)4 lobbying arm.

Challenge

After the election of Donald Trump, Ajit Pai was appointed as the new Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with the promise to kill Net Neutrality -- a policy that protects users from discrimination online and prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use.

In 2015, after years of mounting pressure from millions of activists, the FCC adopted historic Net Neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open — allowing people to share and access information of their choosing without interference. Chairman Pai promised to take a “weedwacker” to those very protections. As a result of his threats to Net Neutrality and the potential of a Congressional battle on the issue, Free Press Action Fund, Demand Progress, and Fight for the Future joined forces. Together, they organized  millions of people, companies and hundreds of thousands of websites to participate in an internet-wide day of action. Free Press Action Fund and their allies stood at the center of this moment that saw an unprecedented level of political engagement -- and gave birth to the decentralized grassroots movement of nearly half a million people, which they called Team Internet.

With hundreds of thousands of volunteers ready to take action and their drastically increased ability to reach millions of people, Free Press Action Fund, alongside Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, launched a distributed organizing campaign with the purpose of engaging and retaining volunteers and giving them the tools they need to start leading the fight for a free and open internet.

 Photo: Brendan Cleak

Photo: Brendan Cleak

Process

PowerLabs joined the Free Press team in February of 2017 and helped the organization lay the groundwork for an open source people-powered campaign. PowerLabs took a hands-on approach to the campaign and supported the team with coaching and strategy advice for how to grow, retain and develop volunteer leadership.

As an organization that believes race is central to the conversation about Net Neutrality, Free Press worked closely with PowerLabs to incorporate a racial justice lens into the Team Internet campaign. PowerLabs facilitated step-back calls with the team to open the conversation about how Team Internet, their allies, partners and volunteers are working at the intersection of race and Net Neutrality. 

Verizon Store Net Neutrality Protests

Outcomes

Free Press has drastically increased their organizational capacity by creating a people-powered campaign with their Team Internet allies. Between August and December 2017, members of Team Internet held over 600 meetings with members of Congress or their staff and organized more than 700 protests at Verizon stores in all 50 states and DC. The public outrage over the FCC’s egregious decision has been massive — people have sent more than one million calls and 14 million emails to Congress as a part of the campaign.

Due to the success of Team Internet, Free Press is shifting their field strategy in 2018 to put more resources into creating volunteer-led teams across the country. 

PowerLabs also supported Free Press to bring a racial justice lens into the Team Internet campaign. As a result, thousands of people have attended Free Press webinars about how Net Neutrality is a racial justice issue. Organizationally, a strong culture and commitment to racial justice ensures that we regularly engage on questions about centring race in the campaign dialogue. 
 


Working with PowerLabs has been a pleasure. They bring deep experience, creative ideas, thoughtful approaches to complex challenges and they immerse themselves in team Free Press.

It’s rare that consultants can jump in with such ease and have a substantial impact. I think of PowerLabs as an extension of our team and I’d recommend them to others without a hesitation.
 
Mary Alice Crim Free Press



Mary Alice Crim, Field Director for Free Press Action Fund


Can we help you?

Get in touch. It’s never too soon.

Name *
Name