Stem cell 527 launches

WASHINGTON: A team of media, marketing, and grassroots specialists with a connection to stem cell research is undertaking a grassroots campaign to lobby for increased federal funding.

WASHINGTON: A team of media, marketing, and grassroots specialists with a connection to stem cell research is undertaking a grassroots campaign to lobby for increased federal funding.

StemPac, a 527 organization, launched last week to rally activists who support the issue.

It is entering the political fray as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which passed in the House, awaits action in the Senate.

"If we're going to have a teachable moment, this is it," said John Hlinko, who is heading the effort.

He noted that there are already a number of groups promoting the promise of stem cell research and educating the public. But StemPac is building the online activist movement.

The group is getting help from political consultancy and public affairs shop Grassroots Enterprises.

"We're not looking to educate; we're looking to mobilize," said Hlinko, who is VP of marketing and creative engagements at Grassroots. "We really think that what's missing is a galvanized grassroots initiative to really add firepower [on the Hill]."

StemPac is currently gathering signatures, and plans to send a Lifesaver candy to Congress for each supporter.

It also working to engage both bloggers and the media, and has collected almost 200 stories from people who might benefit from stem cell research.

The media-savvy team includes Hlinko, one of the early leaders of MoveOn.org and a former Ogilvy PR staffer; Bud Jackson, a political media consultant; Kevin McCann, director of online development at Grassroots Enterprises; and Allyson Kapin, an online marketing consultant.

"Every member of our team has a story," said Hlinko, who noted that his nephew was recently diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, a fatal genetic disorder. "It's very personal."

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