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Lee Jin-man / AP

A group of technologists who worked under President Obama have formed an organization—Higher Ground Labs—to fund and mentor early-stage startups focused on politics. The goal is to help make the type of tech tools found in national political campaigns available off-season to left-leaning candidates in local and state elections, co-founder Betsy Hoover told Recode.

The group already has $1 million in committed funds from undisclosed investors, and has backed a forecasting startup named Deck.

Why it matters: With Republicans currently controlling both the legislative and executive branches, it's particularly important for Democrats and other progressives to work to shift that balance both at local levels and at the next mid-term elections. What's more, local elections can have a bigger direct impact on people's lives, as Voter CEO Hunter Scarborough, who recently joined another voter-focused app, Brigade, told Axios in January.

A-list team: Hoover's co-founders are Shomik Dutta, who served on Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns and advised the FCC, and Andrew McLaughlin, a former deputy CTO for Obama who's also worked at Google, Medium, and Tumblr. Higher Ground Labs' board of advisers includes Jeremy Bird (Obama's 2012 field director), Jon Favreau (Obama's speechwriter, now Crooked Media co-founder), Michael Slaby (CTO for Obama's 2008 campaign), Raffi Krikorian (formerly at Uber and Twitter), and Dan Pupius (an entrepreneur formerly at Medium and Google).

Go deeper

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.

Biden to sign voting rights order to mark "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

President Biden will sign an executive order today, on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," meant to promote voting rights, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: The executive order comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to pass a sweeping election bill meant, in part, to combat a growing number of proposals introduced by Republicans at the state level that would restrict voter access.