Success Building on a Multi-Year Strategy

Anti-democratic policies in Ohio make it hard for voters to shape important decisions that impact their lives. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected the current legislative majority's heavily gerrymandered state house maps five times. Ohio also purges the most voters – especially voters of color and young voters – of any state except Georgia. To overcome these barriers, Heartland Fund has invested deeply in rural, small-city, and exurban efforts. Our grantees play a vital part in the winning coalition fighting for fair representation and core freedoms like the right to reproductive care.

The Heartland Fund network and rural voters demonstrated their power in the resounding 2023 ballot measure outcome for reproductive rights. Abortion rights garnered 13% more votes in rural Ohio compared to presidential results in 2020, reinforcing that rural voters are deeply motivated by issues.

Heartland Fund is in it for the long haul! They have been true champions for reclaiming democracy in Ohio, knowing it would be a 5-10 year plan. They’ve been strategic thought partners, provided anchor grants for a diverse set of rural and small city organizations, and helped us raise the profile of exciting pro-democracy work among national funders.
Misha BarnesOhio Donor Collaborative

Our grantee RuralOrganizing.org recruited 1,100 “vocal locals” who placed 11,000 yard signs around the state. They focused on Athens County, where they knocked 30,000 doors, tapping a well of concern that lifted rural Athens to the 3rd highest vote for abortion rights in Ohio.

Red Wine and Blue organized with small-town and exurban women who completed tens of thousands of persuasive relational conversations with friends and neighbors. Their digital organizing diverted voters away from disinformation-filled websites to factual content.

Heartland Fund grantee Freedom BLOC also knocked on over 100,000 doors and registered 9,000 mostly Black voters in Akron, a medium-sized industrial city. This powerful organizing is part of a multi-year strategy building to a 2024 pro-democracy agenda.