May 2, 2024
Press Release

Movement Labs Expands Contest Every Race Rural Grants Program to over 350 Democratic County Parties Nationwide

In response to increased demand from state and county partners, Movement Labs, an incubator and consulting firm building progressive power, has successfully expanded the Contest Every Race county grants program to unprecedented numbers.
Contest Every Race Staff

In response to increased demand from state and county partners, Movement Labs, an incubator and consulting firm building progressive power, has successfully expanded the  Contest Every Race county grants program to unprecedented numbers. After the most recent round of applications, Contest Every Race is proud to announce that the grants program has expanded to 350 counties spanning across 29 states. In the most recent continuation of the grants program, Contest Every Race has focused on adding teams from the battleground states that will be critically important in the 2024 Presidential Election, with 230 out of the 350 grantee counties being in battleground states. 

The program, which is committed to building support for Democrats in rural communities, began in 2021 in 40 counties across four states. After repeated successes reported by grantees, demand for the program significantly increased. The full breakdown of teams per state is listed below, with battleground states identified in bold. 

Participating grantees receive $500 per quarter, training, free texting, and support from a designated Contest Every Race Organizer. Grantees commit to creating strategic plans and completing monthly actions based on increasing community engagement, recruiting volunteers, and supporting those who express interest in running for office. 

In the first four months of 2024, grantees recruited 1,417 prospective candidates for local office and completed over 4,000 volunteer shifts in the hardest to reach rural counties.  These monthly actions help build the momentum needed for electoral wins as well. In 2022, all together, the rural grants program drove 165,068 conversations, flipped four state house seats, and helped four Congressional Democratic incumbents hold onto their districts. Additionally,  research showed that the grants program caused an estimated 2-3% percent increase in vote share for Democrats in the counties where Movement Labs worked. Contest Every Race is focused on increasing their impact even further this election year. 

Leading this effort is Contest Every Race’s Executive Director, Lauren Gepford and Organizing Director, Brit Bender. Both Gepford and Bender have extensive experience in the rural organizing space. Gepford served as both the former Missouri Democratic Party Executive Director and Data Director, while Bender served as the former Executive Director of the Tennessee Democratic Party. 

“We are continuously inspired by the stories we hear from county leaders about how this program has helped transform what it means to be a democrat in their hometown. We are committed to continuing our grants program and supporting local leaders throughout the 2024 election and beyond.”  – Lauren Gepford, Executive Director of Contest Every Race 

“With every team of county democrats that join our grants program, we continue the vital work of investing in our rural democrats. Providing these groups with the training, networking, and support they deserve is paramount to the long-term success of our party locally, regionally, and nationally. We are thrilled to see our new teams launch and our continuing teams grow.” Brit Bender, Organizing Director of Contest Every Race 

“The entire country depends on what happens to rural Democratic strength. And Contest Every Race is frankly the only national initiative that I know of that is laser focused on supporting the local leaders who are on the ground in county parties to have more muscle, more resources, more training to be more effective at their work. We are so thrilled to have Contest Every Race as a national partner who is zeroed in and keyed into this work and who can bring best practices from state to state. It is hard to imagine a dollar better spent than through this program that goes directly into a rural county's budget.” – Ben Wikler, Chair, Wisconsin Democratic Party

“The Contest Every Race grants program has been a game changer for us.  We’ve contacted 87,000 people in our county, and generated a lot of new interest in volunteering. I estimate 80% of these folks are new to us, names we would not have come across if they had not responded to our text campaigns. We very much appreciate the Contest Every Race program. We are a new group, just getting started with a small group of volunteers and limited resources. There is no way we would've been able to send this number of texts on our own.” – Lissa Johnston, Bastrop County, Texas 

If you’re interested in connecting with Lauren Gepford, Brit Bender, or a rural county party leader in the program, please reach out to Daniel Jubelirer,, (919) 619-5795.


Movement Labs uses data, technology, and experimentation to stop fascism and build progressive power.