If there is one theme threaded throughout 2023 for Forge, it’s expansion. We highlight this theme in our newest Forge Newsletter, our bi-annual magazine which just hit the mailboxes of Forge supporters.
Forge supporters provided record financial support in 2022 and 2023! The Heritage Foundation joined these supporters in recognizing that more young conservatives needed the training, mentorship, and connections that Forge provides, so they awarded us their Innovation Prize to help fuel a major expansion of Forge programs.
Looking back so far at 2023, I am grateful for:
- Expanding our weeklong Forge Leadership Summits into Nashville, TN and hosting TWO Summits. The Summits are the launching point for these young leaders and a major milestone in accelerating their careers and growing their networks.
- Inducting not one but TWO yearlong Forge Mentorship Academies for 2023-2024. Academy members (standout Forge Summit participants) learn from conservative leaders and reunite in D.C. and Israel (Lord-willing) to expand their knowledge, deepen their faith, and build lasting friendships and connections. They are introduced to top internship and job opportunities and each student is paired with a handpicked mentor for a six-month mentorship.
- Doubling the number of applicants to the Forge Summits
- Training and mentoring 50% more students this year than any prior year.
I hope that Forge’s growing impact encourages you that our country will have faithful, well-equipped young people who buck the trends, prepared and committed to standing for what is good and true in America.
I am so excited about this newsletter that we couldn’t wait to share our feature article about building the conservative “farm team” with you. This article explains the power of this baseball analogy that I love to employ to describe the vision of Forge to build talent development pipelines in the states.
What conservatives need today is more baseball.
Not just because baseball is a symbol of national pride and – let’s face it – nowhere does a hotdog taste better than in a hard plastic seat overlooking the diamond. No, we need baseball because America’s future conservative leadership could learn lessons from “America’s pastime.”
100 years ago, America became obsessed with baseball. While the nation was speeding through the Roaring Twenties, a man named Branch Rickey was revolutionizing the way the game was played. You may know Rickey as the visionary who brought the legendary Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers. What few people know is that Rickey invented the “farm team” system that is used as a talent pipeline by all major league teams today.
Major league teams used to bid on specific players from independent minor league teams, a process that proved to be expensive and ineffective. Not only did it prompt costly bidding wars, more crucially there was no way to guarantee that these minor league teams would produce the kind of talent needed by the major leagues.
Rickey had the solution. By purchasing controlling interest in minor league teams, his team, the St. Louis Cardinals, not only had their pick of the players, they could also finely mold the players and ensure they were ready for the big leagues. His plan worked; the Cardinals avoided overpaying for players through costly bidding wars and the talent of the recruits went through the roof. By 1939 the team owned 32 minor league teams and played in seven World Series between 1930 and 1946.
Top Left: Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson when Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers Bottom Left: St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930’s Right: Branch Rickey
The farm team model swept over the league and today all 30 major league teams recruit talent directly from their minor league teams.
So, what do conservatives need to learn from baseball? We will never reap what we do not sow. We all want principled and effective leaders in our states and nation. Go to any political science department at any university and you will find plenty of young people who want to make a difference on our nation. Internships in D.C. and state capitals are competitively sought after. We don’t suffer from a lack of ambition.
The problem is that many have a knowledge gap that prevents them from getting ahead and those that know how to leverage the system often fall prey to that very system, repeating a cycle of self-serving leadership. Conservatives need a farm team to train, mentor, and launch hard-working, faithful young people to be the leaders America needs.
Forge is creating that farm team. Our network of over 630 alumni represent some of the top young talent in America today. Through hands-on training, in-depth mentoring, and career-accelerating networks, we are forging a leadership pipeline for America for years to come.
What sets Forge apart is that we not only equip students with the hands-on training that they need to be excellent in their craft, we also introduce them to the leaders who are 10, 20, or 30 years down the road who will personally mentor them with practical life lessons.
At the core of all we do is a commitment to character and camaraderie. Whenever we ask our alumni what has been most personally impactful about their experience with Forge, they say it’s the relationships they have made with their mentors and fellow alumni.
100 years ago Branch Rickey revolutionized the way the game was played. He saw that what baseball really needed was players who were trained and equipped to take on the challenge of the major leagues.
Today, conservatives need their own farm teams – a nationwide network of young leaders passionately working in their communities, states, and nation to protect American values and ensure that our best days are still ahead of us. So far, we have built that farm team the most in the Midwest and our Nation’s Capital, and now in our year of growth we have expanded to seed a farm team in the Southeast. Our states will reap the reward of this investment for years to come.
I hope that you enjoy this latest Forge newsletter highlighting the expansion of the conservative farm team. Forge supporters are building a nation-changing talent pipeline that will yield results for decades to come.