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Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 21, 2018

Iowa City startup aims to make civic engagement easier, more effective

By James Q. Lynch, The Gazette | Jan 10, 2018

IOWA CITY — Not so long ago, Ross Katz wasn’t particularly troubled believing he was powerless to make change because he thought the nation’s values were close to his own.

That changed after the 2016 election.

“I saw leaders arguing that some people are better than others. That some people don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else,” Katz wrote in a post at

As he started to engage to make change, however, Katz found he was getting texts and emails — many of them redundant — on a host of national political issues.

So on Monday he’s launching, an online social media platform helping to connect candidate and activist organizations with the people who want to support their work. The focus will be on local and state issues.

“We believe that a more participatory democracy is a better democracy, and we are here to make civic engagement easier and more effective,” Katz said Friday.

ActWorthy will provide a free feed of political actions related to the issues a person cares about in the community where they live. Think of it as Facebook without puppies and wedding pictures, Katz said.

Then for a monthly subscription fee, ActWorthy will provide a platform to target, build and organize communities of like-minded people for activists, organizations and candidates.

“We help you build more relationships and raise more money to drive your important work,” Katz said.

Katz, who has lived in Iowa City for five years, is counting on the high level of civic engagement in the Corridor to help ActWorthy grow.

“Iowans view themselves as being an important part of American democracy,” Katz said. “If (ActWorthy) can’t succeed in Iowa City, it can’t succeed in any other community, but if it can succeed in the state of Iowa, it can succeed in any other state.”

ActWorthy will host a launch party from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at MERGE Iowa City, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City.

Community and campus activists will speak about issues important to them and how ActWorthy will help them organize. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

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