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Project Title:Cal Campaign Consultants (CCC)Institution Name:California University of Pennsylvania Innovation Category:Civic Engagement Project Director:Melanie J. Blumberg, Professor of Political ScienceContact Information:(724) 938-5720 , blumberg@calu.eduWebsite:
Project Description:Cal Campaign Consultants is a multidisciplinary organization, which teaches students the basics of professionalizing campaigns, for example: campaign strategy, graphic design, voter mobilization, and debate techniques. Faculty in political science, behavioral psychology, graphic design and art, communication studies, theater, and journalism share their expertise with students. Members use their skills to manage campaigns for student government presidential candidates. Two campus leaders laid the groundwork for the unique group, which is funded by the Student Association, Inc.
Objectives:
  • CCC members learn, then apply, campaign management techniques to student government campaigns. 
  • CCC members apply their knowledge and skills by working on candidates campaigns for public office.
  • CCC members run for public office.
  • CCC members pursue graduate degrees in related fields, such as campaign management, public administration, public policy, and legal studies.
Outcomes:
  • Turnout in student government elections has increased since CCC members began managing campaigns for student government president.
  • CCC members intern with and work on candidates’ campaigns for public office, including local, state, and national contests.
  • CCC members run for public office (e. g., mayor and city council) or work in government (e.g., legislative assistant, state party caucus research and policy assistant, state party media relations, and the Department of State).
  • CCC members are pursuing or have earned graduate degrees in applied campaign management, public administration, public policy, and law.      
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The university community is supportive of the student organization, although there have been two minor glitches. Sometimes, CCC does not receive adequate notice of the student government elections so members have to scramble to mount professional campaigns. When there is no competition at the top of the ticket, CCC members work on the vice presidential race, which by its nature does not garner the same level of interest.
Evaluation Approach:Evaluating most outcomes is not difficult:  first, there are records of turnout in student government elections; second, internships are tracked through the Internship Office, although most CCC members arrange the campaign management ones through the Department of History and Political Science. There is no formal process for tracking how many students run for public office, work in government, or pursue graduate degrees in related fields; however, many CCC members self-report their activities. Also, many participating faculty know of the students’ endeavors. Another way to gauge success is though the Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs publication, which lists student and faculty accomplishments by college.
Potential for Replication:CCC’s programming is not difficult to replicate, although it helps to have service-oriented faculty with applied campaign experience. The only obstacle for other campuses may be the inability to secure adequate funding for running professional campaigns. Thus far, CCC has been fortunate to also have funding to host nationally recognized campaign consultants, co-sponsor election analysis forums, and send several members to American Association of Political Consultants meetings.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Geraldine Jones , Interim Presidentjones_gm@calu.edu
(724) 938-4407
Date Published: Monday, March 28, 2011