Imagine North Carolina First is a Raleigh-based organization that initiates, cultivates, and funds strategic efforts to promote economic opportunity, quality of life, government accountability, and civic participation among underserved communities in North Carolina. Its primary mission is to foster an economy and democracy that works for all of North Carolina's citizens.
To address the growing chasm between the poor and the wealthy in North Carolina, Imagine North Carolina First supports the research and development of public policies that help advance high-quality public education and economic opportunity that benefits all citizens. The goal is to produce pragmatic ideas that can be used to formulate, debate and implement public policy.
Imagine North Carolina First will support a wide range of research related to this mission, including qualitative and quantitative surveys, demographic and economic trends, and academic reports. It will publish its findings and sponsor nonpartisan educational and public awareness campaigns, activities and events, and the dissemination of information to promote the general public’s understanding of ways to maintain and improve North Carolina’s common good, quality of life, and social welfare.
The educational and public awareness activities Imagine North Carolina First supports will be nonpartisan, and designed to increase awareness of and knowledge about issues of public concern through a full and fair exposition of the relevant facts.
Imagine North Carolina First also encourages the active participation of citizens in government, seeking to make all levels of government and private institutions more accountable and responsive, and supporting efforts to ensure that individual rights and liberties under the Constitution are protected. This will include support for work to overcome roadblocks to registration and voting; efforts to expand access to government information; support for a complete and accurate Census count; and a broad range of program initiatives aimed at holding government agencies and public officials accountable for their actions.
One of Imagine North Carolina First’s goals is to increase underrepresented voter participation in the electoral process. North Carolina made great strides in expanding access to the ballot, including implementing same-day voter registration and early voting. These efforts paid off in 2008 when North Carolina boasted the largest increase in voter participation in the nation. Since then, however, the state legislature has taken a range of official actions designed, in practice, to limit voting of the poor, elderly, newly enfranchised immigrants, and people of color.
In response, Imagine North Carolina First will support efforts to provide information on the process, encouraging eligible voters to register and vote, and engaging in capacity-building educational work with other organizations. Imagine North Carolina First will conduct these activities on a nonpartisan basis.
A key step in increasing the representation of underrepresented communities is a complete and accurate Census count. An accurate Census helps historically underrepresented communities build power and increases their representation at all levels of government. An accurate Census also helps North Carolina communities receive their fair share from federal programs that distribute funds based on population counts.
Finally, Imagine North Carolina First is dedicated to inspiring and training new civic leaders for our state, especially new leaders from younger generations who will secure and protect pro-democracy reform the goal is to build a well trained, engaged core of volunteer activists who can engage and activate their communities to protect public education and advocate for fair economic policies.