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National Initiative to Increase Congressional Staff Diversity

Staff Up Congress, a nonpartisan coalition effort, will tackle systemic underrepresentation of minorities in congressional staff positions

The NiLP Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In response to chronic underrepresentation in top Congressional staff jobs, last week two leading covil rights organizations launched Staff Up Congress, a national initiative for a representative congressional workforce. A 2015 comprehensive report by Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies on the Hill's workforce found that only 7.1 percent of top Senate staffers were people of color, despite people of color making up over 36 percent of the U.S. population. The two organizations will work together to grow the pool of candidates for senior positions; develop candidates' skills and networks; build a sustainable pipeline of candidates from the entry level to Chief of Staff; and urge hiring managers to actively consider, recruit, and hire in an inclusive manner.

At a time when Congress is more diverse than ever, senior staff members serving these lawmakers remain overwhelmingly white. Staff Up Congress plans to address this under representation by recruiting, training, and placing talented people of color in staff positions in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. The initiative will be led jointly by NALEO Educational Fund, an organization with more than 35 years of experience increasing Latino participation in the political process, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a public policy organization that supports elected officials and policy experts who serve communities of color.

"Americans benefit when qualified individuals from a variety of backgrounds are able to use their skills and talents to work on behalf of Congress and the American people," stated Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund executive director. "Unfortunately, the congressional workforce still has a long way to go before it fully reflects the diversity and talents of this great nation."

"Staff Up Congress, our partnership with the NALEO Educational Fund, is the next meaningful step toward ensuring that Congress is truly representative of the many diverse communities in America," said Spencer Overton, President of Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. "Capitol Hill staffers have a unique ability to craft policy that impacts us all, and Staff Up Congress will work to ensure that people of color have an equal opportunity to fill these roles."

"I'm so glad to see NALEO work diligently to help promote diversity in the halls of Congress through the Staff Up initiative," said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. "As the first Hispanic woman in Congress, I know that different life experiences bring valuable perspectives to the table when we make the policies that impact our nation. From Chief of Staff to Staff Assistant roles, unique voices in our legislative process are crucial to helping ensure that our laws reflect our country's values."

Staff Up Congress is being funded through a grant by Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation that invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to address new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

Those interested in participating in the initiative and learning more, can visit http://staffupcongress.com.


The NiLP Report on Latino Policy & Politics is an online information service provided by the National Institute for Latino Policy. For further information, visit www.latinopolicy. org. Send comments to editor@latinopolicy.org.