democrats for education reform

A compelling vision, active base, and strong policy agenda –but no Massachusetts presence.


Nationally, Democrats for Education Reform had a compelling narrative, a grassroots network of supporters, and a robust public policy team. Their efforts to cultivate leaders in the Democratic Party that were committed to reforming deeply dysfunctional school systems had led to the election of dozens for new leaders across the country. However, although they had identified strong leadership in Massachusetts, they lacked the on-the-ground presence, institutional knowledge, and back office necessary to implement their ambitious agenda. That’s when they called Novus.

Novus launched a statewide endorsement process, questioning hundreds of municipal and legislative candidates on their education priorities once assuming office. The Novus team assisted in developing a comprehensive questionnaire to help DFER identify like-minded reformers beginning their political careers and develop a consistent endorsement process.  Over 75 percent of DFER-endorsed candidates were elected in all subsequent elections.

Novus developed an intriguing annual event schedule to convene progressive education reformers around their shared values. In an effort to demonstrate the collective power of the reform movement in Massachusetts, Novus assisted DFER in planning and executing compelling events to educate, inspire, and empower attendees. Hundreds of advocates are regular attendees with featured speakers including Senator Cory Booker and former Governor Howard Dean.

Novus assisted DFER in developing an active presence at Democratic Party events to demystify themselves as an organization and build inroads into the party apparatus. Although DFER is comprised of Democrats in the name itself, the Massachusetts chapter lacked a connection to the state party. Novus assisted DFER in developing annual events held at the Roosevelt Award Dinner and annual state party convention to meet party leaders, develop a grassroots network, and establish themselves as participants in the progressive reform movement.

Novus executed dozens of independent expenditures on behalf of DFER’s Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee, including direct mail, canvassing, and online advertising. In an effort to elect progressive politicians that are committed to championing school children across the Commonwealth, Democrats for Education Reform’s Independent Expenditure PAC provided financial support for over a dozen candidates throughout the past three years.