The heart of any successful local campaign is the core volunteer effort. Volunteers provide bandwidth to execute the campaign’s strategic plan. This is the power of the Blue Lab.

The vision is simple. From the start of a campaign – even for a first time or outsider candidate—an office-seeker walks into a fully functioning, optimally staffed campaign headquarters without the costly upfront expenditures only well-heeled and incumbent candidates can afford.

The Blue Lab structure is also simple. College students from area schools are recruited, vetted, and work together during fall, spring, or summer semesters, for academic credit. A paid academic advisor oversees the program. A fellow, who is paid a stipend and is a Blue Lab graduate, oversees the work under the supervision of the Blue Lab’s professional staff and with the direction of a number of political consultants hired by various campaigns. The Blue Lab’s infrastructure is shared among many campaigns and constantly and efficiently upgraded as campaign methods and needs change.

The Blue Lab’s student “associates” work with the experienced campaign consultants and the candidates themselves to craft and execute a strategic campaign plan for each candidate. The associates get to see the campaigns just as the strategists do. They are in the room from the first meeting. Unlike traditional campaigns, where young volunteers are assigned a task that is necessary but oftentimes menial – knocking on doors, stuffing envelopes, robo-calling voters, and running errands – Blue Lab associates learn the rationale and strategy behind the entirety of the campaign working in each traditional discipline like fundraising, video production, and communications. They are active players in the campaign’s overall strategy, not just helping hands for piecemeal tasks. They receive direct experience operating a campaign from start to finish and learn which tools achieve success across the traditional silos. Most days associates will work on different projects in different disciplines for different clients with unprecedented access to and collaboration with candidates and strategists.

In addition to the student experience, candidates and strategists from multiple campaigns also have the unique opportunity to share ideas, methods, and experiences, creating a hotbed of cross-fertilization missing from the traditional individual campaign model.

To the consultants hired by each campaign, the Blue Lab provides incredible capacity in support of our efforts by increasing the amount of output we generate for the clients we serve. This allows the consultant to be prepared with any and all research that he or she needs to do the job, but does not require him or her to dedicate painstaking personal hours to tasks that are vital but time-consuming. The Blue Lab takes this burden off of the consultant so that the consultant may focus directly on client and campaign needs. It is a true partnership between the Blue Lab associates, the consultant, and the candidate. Consultants, in turn, are able to provide candidates with much more context and creativity than every before.

Associates exit the program with a breadth of knowledge and experience that is completely unique. Graduates of the Blue Lab depart from the program equipped to handle their first campaign job head-on because of the Blue Lab experience. Graduating Blue Lab associates are incredibly attractive job applicants to political consulting firms after having this firsthand, well-rounded experience while only in college. The skills they learn will serve them well in any career they choose.