Maryland DREAM Act

By Isaac Salazar on 01.31.13

After winning a successful legislative battle to approve the Maryland DREAM Act, Educating Maryland Kids, the coalition to defend the Maryland DREAM Act, faced the prospect of a repeal of the law by ballot referendum in the 2012 General Election. When the coalition needed a website to launch their campaign, they came to us.


DREAMWorking with campaign leadership we used topline messaging to complete a design survey and get a sense of the feeling that needed to be conveyed in a website. The DREAM Act says that if you graduate from a Maryland high school and your family pays taxes, then you should be allowed to pay in-state tuition. It was a simple but direct message. Using key phrases such as ‘graduate from a Maryland high school’, and ‘right and fair,’ we set out to design a website that emotes the same positive impression that DREAMers make offline.

Knowing that DREAMers were the best messengers for a lot of our target audience, we highlighted them prominently on the home page and on interior pages with individual profiles. As you navigated throughout the website there was a constant reminder of a Maryland DREAMer on the right side bar. The result was a website that told the personal story of real people who would have been positively impacted by the legislation.


Chalk_MDA_300x2501The campaign also needed a method of collecting and managing supporter information through the website. Since they already had an NGP account to manage fundraising and reporting and didn’t want duplicate systems, we developed the website with email signup fields that dumped directly into NGP. We also used NGP’s volunteer forms to collect and tag supporters who signed-up to volunteer through the home page.

Since we knew the campaign wanted to run email acquisition ad campaigns so we designed a few landing page templates without navigation or a sidebar to maximize conversions. We coded data that was collected through each landing page so that we could easily segment each list and analyze page performance. We tested a variety of images, videos, and layouts in order to optimize performance. Our best performing form was a pledge to “Vote FOR Question 4! Defend the DREAM Act” that used a frame from one of the online ads.


In addition to highlighting DREAMer profiles on the website, we wanted to highlight DREAMers on the Facebook page. We worked with DREAMers to identify photos of their life experiences since moving to the United States, specifically in Maryland. Using Facebook’s timeline feature we posted a series of them highlighting experiences such as science fairs, sporting events, and high school graduations. We even included many childhood moments like one of the DREAMers ”first snow falls”. While we saw an increase in engagement as a result of tagging the photos, the social campaign had the added benefit of allowing potential supporters to identify with the DREAMers’ experiences.

After months of messaging both online and offline the Maryland DREAM Act was affirmed on Election Day with fifty nine percent of the electorate voting ‘FOR’ the law. While we take great pride in every project we work on, this campaign was also personal for the Local Politechs team. While I was born in the United States, my father was an immigrant who relocated to Maryland. I had a chance to get to know many of the DREAMers throughout the campaign trail and I know that thanks to this legislation they will go on to do great things for their community. Knowing this made us feel honored to be part of the winning team.