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Dear CDA Leader,

We are excited to release the Spring 2012 College
Democrats of America Programs Guide, which we
hope will be a useful resource for you over the
course of the coming semester. The contents of this
guide will help your College Democrats chapter use
creative programming strategies to involve students
in electing Democrats and advancing the Democratic
Inside the CDA Programs Guide, you’ll fnd ideas
for spring conventions programming, CDA Service
week, involvement in President Obama’s reelection
campaign, preparing for the Democratic National
Convention, and training delegate candidates.
We hope this guide will help you efectively use
programming to build your chapters, engage fellow
students, and gear up for an exciting and important
year for Democrats.

Alejandra Salinas
Jeremy Feigenbaum
Vice President
Elsie Raymer
Director of Programs
College Democrats make superb candidates
for delegates to the 2012 Democratic National
Convention in Charlotte. Most states have youth
quotas they must fll when selecting delegates --
encourage leaders in your chapter to petition to fll
those spots!
Becoming a delegate can be a complicated process
however, so it’s important that College Dems
are provided with the information they need to
complete the process. To make this information easily
accessible, host a delegate training on campus for
students interested in petitioning. Contact your state
Democratic party or county Democratic party and
ask them to lead a training or a conference call for
student delegate candidates. Try to fnd a liaison from
the party who can be a resource to candidates to help
them through the process.
The following is a message from the DNC Youth
Council on becoming a delegate:
The important thing to note before getting into a general
description of the process is that each state selects
delegates in a slightly diferent manner. The DNC requires
that each state party draf a Delegate Selection Plan that
then gets approved by the DNC. Because dates, locations,
and requirements vary in each state, the best advice we
can give you is to contact your state party headquarters
and ask for a copy of the Delegate Selection Plan.
Even though we cannot give you specifcs on dates and
such, we can provide you with a general overview of the
process to become elected a district-level delegate, with
some helpful tips tossed in.
Participate in the “frst determining step” in your state. For
some, this is voting in a state-run presidential preference
primary. For others, this is participating in a party-run
caucus. It is important to get out early and show support for
the candidate of your choice.
Attend and participate in the frst tier delegate selection
caucuses. Each state has district-level delegates. Each
Congressional District is assigned a certain number of
male and female delegates based on that district’s previous
Democratic performance. Many states will hold a smaller
caucus (at either an precinct, assembly district or a county
level) to determine who will advance to the next stage. The
only way you can advance from one stage to the next is to
keep getting elected at each level.
Here is a helpful tip to advance on to the next level…. bring
friends with you to each tier! If you want to be elected, it is
necessary to have people to vote for you. So bring friends
with you to the frst level to support your bid for delegate.
Another helpful hint is to bring a printed biography or
resume with you to each level so that you can show your
activism and previous involvement with the Democratic
Party. It also helps to be an active volunteer for the
candidate of your choice.
Make sure that you comply with all the dates and
requirements set forth by your state party. Each state
party should be able to provide you with a one-page
summary on the process that can help make sure you meet
all requirements. For example, some states require you
to submit a statement of support for a certain candidate.
Failing to meet these steps can prevent you from being
elected as a district-level delegate.
In addition to running for the district-level delegate
position, each state delegation selects at-large members.
Again, the steps to get elected as an at-large member of
your delegation varies by state. Some hold elections at
a State Convention and in some states the State Central
Committee elects the at-large delegates. While there are
fewer at-large delegates, this is another way to get yourself
elected. Again, consult your state party for information on
That is just a simple overview of how to run for delegate. It
sounds more difcult than it really is. Running for delegate
can be simplifed this way: you just have to be elected
from one level to the next. It is worth running for delegate.
Wouldn’t you want be on the convention foor when the
nominee makes his acceptance speech?
If you have any questions on the process or need
information more specifc to your state, please contact your
state party headquarters. They will be able to provide you
with details on dates, times, places, etc.
Good luck! We hope to see you in Charlotte!
This spring is a critical time for chapters to build
excitement and momentum around the upcoming
fall elections. Once College Dems return to school in
fall 2012, you will want your chapter membership and
organization already fully engaged so that you can
focus on reelecting President Obama. Here are a few
ways to get started:
Why should we let Republicans have all the fun? Just
because we’re College Democrats doesn’t mean we can’t
enjoy primary season. Republican primaries and debates are
great conversation starters for College Democrats, giving
members an opportunity to bond over the democratic
process in action. Try hosting debate watch parties or
a Super Tuesday Bash to get College Dems excited and
talking about the upcoming election. Watch parties are
terrifc ways to bring in new members as well!
Gather your chapter together to watch President Obama’s
January 24th State of the Union Address! During the
address, ask a few chapter members to come up with
discussion questions based on the address. To add to
the discussion, ask political science professors or local
party leaders to join. These can be general policy/opinion
questions, or they can relate to your chapter’s 2012 eforts.
For instance: “How can we get students more excited
about President Obama’s student loan reform?” The
State of the Union can pull in a lot of non-members and
conveniently occurs at the beginning of a new semester,
so don’t forget to pass around a sign up sheet for potential
new chapter members!
First, hold a roundtable discussion with your local Obama
for America organizer and county party to discuss youth
involvement in 2012 and how your chapter can help.
Then, jumpstart 2012 recruitment by hosting your own
on-campus “dorm party” kickof event! President Obama
supporters all over the country are hosting “house parties”
to kick of local reelection eforts in 2012. (Check out
house parties near you at Your event
will pull in students who may not be a part of the College
Democrats, but who are still excited about reelecting
President Obama. Invite your local Obama for America
organizer to help get students fred up and to discuss
the campaign’s strategy in your area. Post your kickof
event on and don’t forget to invite the
attendees from your Super Tuesday Bash and State of the
Union Summit!
College Dems across the country are looking forward
to Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this
September. Watching President Obama be ofcially
re-nominated as our candidate for President is an
unique experience that can help chapters build
excitement moving into the very last months of the
2012 election cycle. However, fnding ways to attend
the convention is not always easy. However, if your
chapter starts now, you can fundraise your way to
Charlotte! Here are some simple fundraising ideas to
make the convention more accessible:
Ask elected ofcials or your state party to sponsor a
bus or even a tank of gas to Charlotte. Sponsors are
more likely to respond to tangible, specifc asks like
this. Some student governments might even be able
to chip in!
Email or call chapter alumni individually and explain
how exciting and unique an opportunity attending
the convention is to your members. Even recent
alumni can ofer a small amount. Ask them if they will
contribute the cost of sending just one student to
Charlotte. Depending on the distance, this can be a
small cost, meaning that if a handful of alumni agree
to it, you have already paid for a signifcant portion of
your chapter’s transportation costs!
Does your chapter receive any funding from
your school? If it does, don’t forget to research
opportunities to apply for special funds or grants.
Some schools have funding specifcally set aside for
conventions or transportation costs.
Individual members can create their own fundraising
page through (or a similar site). On
the site, outline anticipated expenses of traveling to
and attending the convention* -- and explain why
attending is important to you. Promote pages through
Facebook and email contacts.
*Be careful about raising money to cover registration
fees. Registration fees constitute political donations,
which may not be made from the funds of a third
Spring conventions enable College Dems to meet
fellow College Dems, share ideas, and provide
resources to one another. This year’s conventions
play the additional exciting role of gathering College
Democrats together to gear up for an important
election year. Here are some state convention
programming ideas that will help you take full
advantage of these opportunities. For other ideas,
check out CDA’s State Conventions 101 guide!
Welcome Reception
Combine registration with a relaxed and friendly
welcome reception during which College Democrats
can get a chance to introduce themselves and mingle
before being swept away in convention activities.
All you’ll need is a welcoming space, nametags, and
some light refreshments. A guest speaker, such as the
head or your State Party or your state federation’s
Honorary Chair, can add to the excitement.
Trainings are an excellent way to provide College
Dems with a positive learning experience, useful
information, and an expert’s perspective. Reach out
to your networks to fnd speakers who are not only
knowledgeable about the topic, but who will also be
engaging and enthusiastic speakers. Having trouble
fnding speakers for trainings or other convention
events? Don’t hesitate to reach out to CDA for
Voter Protection and Voter Registration- As we enter
into an important election cycle, it’s essential that
College Democrats be armed with the information
and resources they need to combat student voter
disenfranchisement, especially in states that have
been hit with voter ID bills. Ask an election lawyer to
come in to train College Dems on how to best inform
their peers and protect the student vote.
2012 Membership Building- Ask a local feld expert or
your state membership director to share some tips on
membership building. Ask them to answer questions
like: What are some efective ways to harness the
excitement around the 2012 elections in a way that
builds our chapter’s membership? How can we make
sure we build a solid membership base this coming
More ideas for training sessions:
• Collaborating with your State Party, OFA, and YDA
• Getting Involved in Local Politics
• Constituency Group Outreach
• Raising Money for Your Chapter
• On-Campus and Community Leadership
Democrat Professionals Panel Discussion- State
conventions are excellent forums for helping
College Democrats with jobs and internships in the
Democratic feld. This spring, graduating College
Dems will be on the search for jobs and undergrads
will be looking for summer internships. Help them
get ahead by bringing in young, successful Democrat
role models who can provide some valuable pointers
during a panel discussion.
2012 Job Fair- Pair up with a local Young Democrats
chapter or Young Professionals group to host a “2012
Job Fair” with elected ofcials, campaign workers,
and other operatives to talk about opportunities
volunteering, interning, or working on a campaign
in 2012. Remind College Democrats to bring their
State Conventions can be College Dems’ only
opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with College
Dems from other chapters. In order to make the most
of this opportunity, ofer structured forums during
which chapters can build of of each other’s best
One way to facilitate this is by hosting a Chapter Town
Hall. During a Chapter Town Hall, College Dems ask
each other questions about problems or obstacles
with which their chapters are struggling. Another
chapter who has found a solution to the problem
raised ofers their advice. Ask an e-board member to
keep a list of best practices to be sent out to chapter
leaders following the convention. After the Chapter
Town Hall, take about twenty minutes for College
Dems to break out into their chapters to come up with
a list of chapter-specifc action items they took away
from the conversation.
The following is a sample spring convention
agenda from which your chapter can work to
craft your own:
5:00 pm Registration and Welcome Reception
10:00 am General Session with Keynote Speaker
11:00 am Democrat Professionals Panel Discussion
12:00 pm Training Breakout I
1:00 pm Lunch Break
2:00 pm Training Breakout II
3:00 pm Training Breakout III
4:00 pm 2012 Job Fair
5:00 pm Chapter Town Hall
6:30 pm Dinner
8:00 pm State Federation Reception/Fundraiser
10:00 am State Federation Constitution Review
11:00 am State Federation Elections
12:30 am Closing Reception
Service projects are an excellent source of
programming for chapter building and chapter-
community relationship development. What
better way to engage in service projects than by
participating in CDA’s 2012 Service Week, April 8-14?
Giving back to the community is one of the core
components of public service, and a key part of the
President’s agenda (check out his call to service
at By allowing students
to directly help the people who need it most, service
reminds us all of why we became involved in politics
in the frst place. Furthermore, service initiatives
are a terrifc way to bring chapter members together
cooperatively around an issue students are passionate
1) Choose an issue-based service project. Students
will show more enthusiasm for, and will more readily
participate in, a project that has a message. To engage
students, you need to not only deliver an opportunity,
but also a cause, drive, or motivator for why students
should get involved.
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2) Double your impact by working with other
groups! Many campuses have multiple organizations
that work on similar issues. Take advantage of
this opportunity to get to know other groups and
to increase your participation. Don’t hesitate to open
the opportunity to your campus at large as well!
Because service projects are universally appealing,
they are an excellent way to get students involved in
your chapter’s activities. You could even fnd
yourself with new long-term members!
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• Ask other organizations if you can make an
announcement about your project at their
weekly meetings 
• Have fyers available at these meetings
clearly outlining the date, time, location, and
contact information.
• Follow up with these organizations to
ensure the details of the project reach their
membership electronically, either through
the minutes or in a blast to members.
• Ask permission from your professors to
announce events at the beginning of class.
• Request that your fyer be sent out to the
Political Science or Student Government
3) Publicize! First, make sure your campus
paper and campus radio/TV station know about
your project. Most colleges and universities are
excited to highlight action their students take
to beneft their communities. In addition, many
student governments are eager to support
community service through publicity and
funding support. Second, inform your local
newspaper as well as blogs or news outlets that
focus on the issue to which your service project
4) Create strong ties with community
organizations. Your chapter will always beneft
from fostering positive relationships with the
surrounding community. If you’re partnering
with a community organization, take care to
ensure the collaboration is positive and smooth:
• Be specifc and provide all of the logistical
details well in advance. Answer questions
• How many students will attend?
• What materials will you bring? Do you need any
materials or equipment from them?
• How much time do you need to set up and pack
up? Always take on the responsibility of these
tasks, and if necessary, assign a set up and break
down committee.
• Go over the specifc schedule of the day.
• Who will meet your group at the site? Make sure
you have your liaison’s phone number handy just in
• Always follow up. Send a thank you letter to
the organization thanking them for their work
with you. Include feedback from your members
on their experiences and how the opportunity
benefted your group. Think about including
a picture with signed thank-yous from your
To help you come up with project idea, here are
examples of some successful service projects
College Democrats have done: 
The Central Michigan University College Democrats
take part in an annual fund to support cancer
The Vassar College Democrats partnered with
community organizations to hold a highway cleanup
The Brown University, Providence College, and
University of Rhode Island College Democrats
volunteered to clean up a local park harmed by food
last year.
Similarly, the University of Central Florida College
Democrats did a cleanup of the Wekiva River led by
their Environmental Caucus.
The University of North Carolina Charlotte College
Democrats volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.
Illinois State University played board games with the
residents of a local nursing home.
Catholic University volunteered at TeenAids.
The College Democrats of Ohio held a food drive at
their state convention.
The University of Michigan College Dems participated
in Relay for Life.
The Clark College Democrats volunteered at the Boys
& Girls Club in Worcester.
The University of Louisville Democrats worked at
a soup kitchen and taught immigrant families at
We look forward to your chapter’s participation in
CDA’s Service Week, April 8-14!
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that 2012 is going
to be one of our country’s most important election
cycles. We hope this programming guide can give you
the tools you need to build a successful campaigning
strategy on your campus and beyond, but this guide
doesn’t stop there. Our goal is to inform and inspire as
many young people as possible to create a generation
of voters who will remain actively involved in investing
in America’s future for many years to come.
How do we do that? Our best ideas come from
College Democrats just like you. Every campus is
diferent, and students are involved in a variety of
activities, from athletics to speech and debate. The
key to successful engagement is developing creative
ideas within your own communities. So take the
ideas in this guide and build upon them. Let us know
what works and what doesn’t. We want to hear from
you! Keep us in the loop so we can build a stronger
America for 2012 and beyond.