Welcome to Forward, an app that helps busy Wisconsinites take meaningful action on the causes they care about.

Civic literacy, trust in government, and participation in democracy are all at historic lows right now. 

That’s bad news for democracy. And bad news for America.

Bottom line: it’s hard keeping up with everything. 

That’s why Forward offers a directory of meaningful actions you can take to make a real difference, starting in your local community. 

For Individuals

Our goal is to make it easier for everyday people to take local action on the causes they care about.

These causes fall into four categories:


Please note: we are a secular organization.

Choose your causes

Follow only the causes, groups and campaigns that matter to you in your own personalized feed.​

Search local actions

It’s up to you when, where and how you want to take action. Our filters allow you to search opportunities by interest, tag, hobby, date, organization, cause, user rating, cost, time investment, and more.

Meet people

Really! It can be hard to meet people with shared interests. With Forward you can participate in conversations on forums, message and follow people with similar interests, and even join in-person team challenges with friends and strangers.

Forward is your link to the community of inspiring changemakers in your own backyard.

Have Fun

Forward offers opportunities to join civic scavenger hunts, trivia, team challenges, location-based games and more. Some challenges include prizes from local organizations.

For Organizations

You can think of Forward as your ambassador to a broader community of local changemakers.

For example, need to publicize an event? Let's create an Action Alert asking our members to do chalk art to raise awareness about it. Our goal is to support your needs by mobilizing the talents and interests of creative volunteers throughout the local community.

Does your organization work in one of the following categories? If so, we hope you'll join!


Please note: we are a secular organization.

Social Media Integration

Staying on top of the latest social media trends can be difficult.

In addition to promoting your organization's work on Forward’s standalone platform, we can share your content and calls to action across a wide public audience. Our community extends beyond this website to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

Analytics

Get in-depth statistics about your posts on Forward with our Dashboard. Direct users who discover you on Forward to your website, Facebook page, mailing lists, and other online resources.

Strength in connection

In our user research, we found that people who support a particular cause often miss out on important calls to action because they only follow one or two organizations in the space. For example, someone who cares about climate change may follow 350.org, but not the Sierra Club.

By enabling users to explore opportunities based on issues and interests, we make it easier for them to discover a more comprehensive overview of the organizations working in a particular field. (Of course, users can also search for and follow your group directly.)

Support learning

Our research found that the most influential factor for individuals in deciding whether or not to take action on a cause they care about is understanding the impact the action will have on a movement’s larger goals. This requires a degree of civic literacy.

Too often, civic engagement strategy is disconnected from civic learning, which is an essential precursor to engagement. That's why we carefully scaffold ladders of learning and engagement that help supporters learn about causes at their own pace.

Our Approach & Values

User-Centered

Forward is designed around our communities and needs here in central Wisconsin. We spent two years running focus groups, interviews and surveys with activists and everyday people throughout the state to understand how their needs are and aren’t being met by the organizations they care about.

More than anything, this is what sets us apart - the primary focus of our user research is not on grassroots organizations, but on the people those grassroots organizations are working to reach and mobilize. We seek to continually improve the platform to make it easier for busy Wisconsinites to participate in local democracy and support the causes that matter to them.

Safety and Privacy

Safety and privacy are priorities as we develop this tool. To us, safety includes physical safety, the safety of your data, and emotional safety as you participate in the platform itself. We enforce a strict code of conduct for users with a user flagging process and manual moderation of content on the Forward platform. Posts that violate our community standards will be removed and repeat offenders will be blocked. Furthermore, unlike Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, Forward is not in the business of selling your data. Instead, we are exploring models that enable community ownership and governance of data collected in the platform.

Accessibility

Accessibility is an important value for Forward. That’s why we seek to maximize access by eventually offering the platform in multiple languages, starting with Spanish and Hmong. Furthermore, we are deeply committed to optimizing our tools and experiences to meet the needs of people with visual impairments and other disabilities. All that said, we are currently a team of volunteers with very limited resources. The early iterations of the Forward platform do not meet our desired accessibility standards. We welcome your feedback and requests and seek to prioritize accessibility to the greatest extent possible as we test new features. Thank you for your patience as we work toward meeting a wide range of needs with this tool.

Every voice matters.

Transparency & Ownership

We believe that platforms designed to function in support of democracy should be democratically owned and governed. As described by Trevor Scholz and Nathan Schneider, the model of platform cooperativism reimagines the traditional form of the cooperative as a way to govern and share value among the participating members of digital platforms. Our goal is to build a platform that is - at least in part - owned and governed by the community-based organizations and users it serves.

Forward is currently organized as a Wisconsin LLC with nonprofit fiscal sponsorship from Arts Wisconsin for our Education Fund as we explore pathways toward this goal. Furthermore, unlike Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, Forward is not in the business of selling your data. Instead, we are exploring models that enable community ownership and governance of data collected in the platform.

2020 Alpha

An alpha version of Forward is now available in the Wisconsin Fox Cities.

This (very) early version of Forward is designed to test some of our key ideas. We hope you’ll check it out and share your thoughts, feedback, and requests as we work to improve the tool.