MNY Fundraising Memo: It's Time to Go Fast
A fundraising memo from Maximum New York founder, Daniel Golliher // I'm raising $150,000+ to accelerate MNY from a class to a civics institution // let's get it done by the end of September
Maximum New York is going up faster than the Empire State Building
MNY is a new civics institute with a straightforward mission: (1) bring more minds online who understand our government, civics, and law, and (2) network them together, and with people already doing great work in the civic system.
This is the vital social substrate needed to turn New York City into a city that builds, uses its vast treasury effectively, and moves expeditiously. In other words: an abundant city.
This means more housing and more subway lines, but it also means civilization-scale projects like extending Manhattan, the Liberty Bridge, and direct subway links to Staten Island. It means giving New Yorkers the political sophistication to earn their optimism and understand what’s already going well. It means turning NYC into the city that leads the world in urban excellence with better parks and schools in every borough. It means teaching a politics of abundance, not a politics of scarcity. We can have more, and better.
I’ve taught over 100 students in the first 15 months of MNY’s existence. The model is honed and proven. Now it’s time to go further, faster, better:
By the 2025 citywide elections, MNY will teach 1,000 students.
And by the 2029 citywide elections, we will teach over 10,000.
I’m raising $150,000 to take MNY through the next year with the citizens law degree, to produce 10 new teachers, and to expand the school. Once we hit $150k together, I’ll announce the stretch goals. Let’s wrap this up by the end of September!
Far fewer people than you’d expect understand even the basics of government, let alone how to do something productive with it—and this includes members of NYC’s government.
People anchor firmly on the status quo, and they do not possess the knowledge and culture that, when paired with courage, execute bold, necessary visions of the future. They can only ask someone else to do something for them, whether in the form of law or norm.
In the 21st century, the main question in American social life is not “how do we make that happen?” but “how do we get management to take our side?1
But the core idea remains: more minds must understand our civic system in detail, and they must be networked together in a culture biased toward action. The emergent products of this kind of system have given us every blessing of civilization.
It’s straightforward, but not easy: a rigorous, practice-based civics class that people actually want to take. That much has already been accomplished with The Foundations of New York (applications now open).
But the next part of the solution is why I’m fundraising: a rigorous civics school that people actually want, that provides them an obvious and immense return on the investment of their time and effort. A citizens law degree that individuals can take in whole or part, that trains them to act, that requires action as part of the the program, and that networks them together with likeminded individuals. Good training and good socializing, paired with an imperative to execute.
And, crucially: Maximum New York will train 1,000 people by the 2025 citywide elections, and 10,000 by the 2029 citywide elections.
By teaching that many people, we change the political ecosystem in the city, and radically shift its norms in a productive direction. Not every one of those individuals will be a star, but they each have a role to play (and maybe you’re one of them). You can really only surface a new generation of talent by training everyone broadly:
I understand that the self-organizing neighborhood committee that removes a tree that blocks their street does not go on to build the Empire State Building. My argument is slightly different. To consistently create brilliant poets, you need a society awash in mediocre, even tawdry poetry. Brilliant minds will find their way towards poem writing when poem writing and poem reading is the thing that people do. Likewise, the sense that “free action of the combined powers of individuals” is the solution to problems that plague you personally is a learned response. It is a response that America’s governing elites have never had the chance to learn.2
What I will do with fundraised money
My salary. My foundational work is creating curricula for classes at the city, state, and federal level, and then deploying them at scale to private citizens and members of the government.
Pay bounties to civic technologists for data analysis and visualization.
Fill out the Maximum New York library (estimated to be $2,000).
Secure venue space for classes and special events.
Occasional travel and field trips to both Albany and Washington, D.C.
Support original research conducted by me and MNY alumni. The first project is already underway.
Pay TAs for my expanded class offerings that will begin in early 2024:
Foundations of New York: City
Foundations of New York: State
Foundations of the Federal Government
Parliamentary procedure and practical politics
How to Build a Skyscraper (co-taught with professors from universities around the New York metro area)
The American Founding: Practical History for the Modern Day
If I reach my $150,000 goal, I will begin fundraising another $100,000 as a stretch goal to hire a factotum3 to handle work ranging across research, donor relations, university alumni relations, speaking and performance booking, and more. I want to hire someone who is whip-smart, hungry, and eager to be trained. I have enough work to delegate quite a lot, and that is one of my principal bottlenecks. My job description roughly matches this one from Terraform Industries:
What students are saying
I say this every cohort, but The Foundations of New York is a magnificent example of adult pedagogy.
Daniel has really hit it out of the park on this class and, perhaps more impressively, on the community he has crafted around it. I highly recommend applying :)
If you walk around the city constantly wondering:
- why is the city this way?
- how can I change it?
- who else cares about these questions?
MNY is the best way you can spend your time this spring
Going through Daniel's Maximum New York class changed the way I relate to NYC. I became a participant in the city rather than a consumer of it. As a result of the course, I decided to commit to NYC long-term
If you ever intend to be more than just a tourist and a consumer of NYC…if you mean to be a good steward of its present, and creator of its future...start here.
To anyone in the NYC and interested in local government/urbanism, I strongly recommend checking out Maximum New York! This class has transformed my understanding of city government and NYC history.
Why Maximum New York is for you
Break out of your internet doom loop.
And welcome to the world!
Politics is about solving large collective action problems, and it has always been hard. We’re not in a special moment of difficulty in many ways. So train yourself to be capable of addressing the situation; do not despair or rage against it. If you want to be strong, no amount of proclaiming the beauty and necessity of strength will give it to you—you must do physical work.
MNY is interested in the people who want to work on the vital problems that politics presents, and who can do so with a positive attitude and mental toughness—but who haven’t figured out how yet.
MNY is not interested in those who reflexively proclaim doom, who conflate taking an issue seriously with being perpetually upset about it, and whose primary mode of operation is critique.
Maximum New York is a non-profit project!
But: the world of government and civics does not need yet another non-profit that exists merely to provide salaries to its employees, using the non-profit structure as a fig leaf to prop up claims of social good and ward off critiques of profligacy and inefficacy.
Maximum New York has explicit goals: educate 1,000 New Yorkers by the end of 2025, and 10,000 by 2029, and keep them networked together. This will be measured by how many people graduate from The Foundations of New York, although there will be other classes and other ways to engage.
Further, MNY will be supported by revenue as much as possible, and it has been up until this point—non-profits are allowed to have revenue, if you didn’t know! It’s vital that MNY’s education is accessible, but also connected to the corrective feedback of the market. If a civics education can actively compete in the open market of attention, it has won one of its hardest battles. Donations will be used to cover fixed overhead costs, like salaries, but my goal is to match donations with revenue.
Being a non-profit doesn’t mean being a non-value. Non-profit corporations should aggressively deliver value to society just like their for-profit siblings, just in a different form enabled by a different form of legal incorporation.
How you can help 🗽
Send this to people and institutions who you think could or should give directly
Email me if you want to host a fundraising party, or invite me to speak at your event
This is an older word, but I want to bring it back. It’s Latin (fac = to do, totum = all). I’m using it to mean something like “elevated Jack of all trades.” Often, when smaller orgs need to hire a generalist position like this, they call it a chief of staff. And maybe it is one, but often it isn’t! The “chief of staff” label has been stretched to accommodate people who are not providing executive support and other, more traditional COS duties.