Start a Chapter

If you’re a student interested in starting a YDSA chapter on your school’s campus, fill out a different form on the YDSA website.

Welcome! If you’re at this page it’s because there’s no DSA chapter where you live and you want to start one. DSA chapters work to build a movement of the working class – starting with the people around us everyday – through real, on the ground organizing to change the balance of power in our towns, our states, our country and the world.

Please read the following information about starting a DSA chapter:

The first step is becoming a Pre-Organizing Committee (Pre-OC). To be eligible for Pre-OC status, you must:

1) be an up to date dues-paying DSA member 
2) live or work in an area not already covered by another DSA group’s zip code jurisdiction

Use the zip code lookup tool (coming soon) to determine whether you live in an eligible zip code (if you live within another group’s jurisdiction but their meetings are located too far for you to reasonably attend, or if you live within the jurisdiction of an inactive DSA group, you may still be eligible to start a Pre-OC).

Click here to fill out the Chapter Interest Form

If eligible, you’ll be directed to a Chapter Interest form which will require that you listen to and submit notes on a pre-recorded organizing call (approximately 50 minutes long) and answer a series of questions about your region, demographics, and hopes for your future chapter. After submitting the form you will be invited to a Chapter Interest Call with DSA’s Organizing Director, Glenn Rehn, and Chapter Services Coordinator Lisa Flores.

On this call, Glenn will ask questions to get a sense of your goals, challenges to local organizing, and and what support you might need. Lisa will answer any administrative questions you have about our pipeline process.

After the call, you’ll receive an email connecting you with your staff Field Organizer. The email will also contain a list of requirements, a link to the Organizing Committee (OC) Application, and other resources . Once you complete this and your OC Application is approved, your group will be listed on DSA’s Chapters page and you’ll receive additional information, trainings, and resources!

DSA Chapters serve the following roles in a community:

  1. Chapters demonstrate real socialist values, as opposed to what the right-wing describes as socialism. By being visible, active, and made up of ordinary people who decided they were tired of feeling powerless, chapters help undermine the right-wing’s use of socialism to scare people.
  2. Chapters open up space for progressives by having a radical alternative vision and expanding the debate about local current events to the left in a way that relates to peoples’ ordinary lives, much like the Tea Party pulls the debate to the right.
  3. Chapters train strategic, smart activists who attack the entire system of capitalism and related problems of racism, sexism, etc. in all the institutions of our society, rather than simply attacking the symptoms.
  4. Chapters integrate many issues, recognizing that all of our struggles are related rather than totally separate, and we prefer to focus on activist campaigns that highlight our connections and truly empower ordinary people at the expense of the ruling class. We call these transformative reforms, or “non-reformist” reforms, meaning they are strategic and help us move towards our long term, radical vision.
  5. Chapters create a real local community for self-education, mutual support and self-reflection so we can apply our lessons from activism to our theoretical understanding of the world, and vice versa, and we can have fun and make this work sustainable for the long haul.

Strong DSA Chapters have the following core elements in order to fulfill the local roles above:

  • Internal self-education and respectful dialog: reading groups about theoretical perspectives or current events using short articles or heavy duty readings, like Marx for example.
  • Public education: events introducing non-members to socialist ideas.
  • Organizing: ongoing grassroots activist work as an open socialist organization to both promote real change, build a base, and build trust with others in the community
  • Socializing and healthy community: Fun activities and attention paid to making the chapter welcoming to a wide range of people.
  • Self-evaluation: Deliberate group reflection on a regular basis and conscious work for more experienced members to help less experienced members learn and grow.
  • Constant recruitment: because of the old organizing adage “if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking” and we need a larger and stronger movement to win!

Questions? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us.