Thank you for your interest in starting a chapter in your community! DSA chapters are the most important building block of our movement because they get people involved with the people around them every day and allow us to have a real, on-the-ground impact on politics and activism. Please read the following information about starting a DSA chapter.
To start a chapter, you must:
1) be a DSA member who is current in your dues, and
2) live/work or study in an area not already covered by another DSA group’s zip code jurisdiction
Enter your zip code here to find out if you’re eligible to start a chapter in your area. If you are eligible, you’ll be linked to the Chapter Interest Form.
If a DSA group is already organizing in your area, you’ll be notified of that group and linked to the Chapters page. Contact your local group directly to get involved!
Student? Fill out the YDSA Leaders form on the YDSA website.
DSA Chapters serve the following roles in a community:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!