Community Organizer Training Program

2019-20

There is a growing recognition in the education justice movement that community organizing and parent leadership are essential to achieving significant change, including opening and sustaining high-quality schools and in creating systemic changes within districts and states.

Through successful organizing efforts in the Bay Area and across the country, effective grassroots parent leadership and organizing has been key to changing the political landscape and challenging the status quo. Education justice organizations pledging to make fundamental change in communities have the opportunity and responsibility to engage parents at a deep level as true partners in building the necessary power to create and sustain change.

Now accepting applications. Deadline to apply is Friday, August 16, 2019.  

 

The Need – a pipeline of organizing talent

One ongoing challenge to making authentic grassroots parent leadership a strong component to the education justice movement at a broad scale is the lack of talent and capacity in the community organizing field to develop more successful efforts. While there are education organizations doing advocacy work and occasionally mobilizing parents, very few are developing parents as leaders and building parent-led committees or organizations. What separates successful, sustainable organizing from mobilization is sustained leadership development and engaging parent leaders in long-term strategy building work, which is the essence of Innovate Public Schools’ approach.

Innovate Public Schools’ staff bring more than 40 years of professional experience in grassroots community organizing, with significant demonstrated success in building long-term reform efforts led by low-income parent leaders in California.

Like becoming an excellent teacher, becoming an excellent organizer requires intensive training, support, and ongoing development by other seasoned professionals in the craft. Without significant training, feedback, and counsel from experienced practitioners, new organizers often fail and frequently burn out. Organizations with the desire to organize parents or communities find themselves hiring organizers who lack any experience or expertise, who then find themselves failing and burning-out, because they don’t have the necessary training and support. Similarly, education organizations lack in-house expertise to manage organizing staff, and end up asking them to do other important work, rather than continuing to prioritize long-term parent empowerment.

Innovate  regularly gets requests to grow its work into other regions of the country, or to provide training and on-going consulting to help organizations build their capacity. To begin to meet this need and scale successful community organizing efforts, Innovate Public Schools created a nine-month Community Organizer Training Program designed to meet the needs of organizers and organizations through quality professional development sessions on community organizing theory and practice.

Program Highlights

The program is a seven-month commitment, including five three-day sessions (with overnight stays at retreat centers) and one-on-one coaching between sessions from our experienced organizer faculty. The program is designed to move participants from community organizing theory to practice. It emphasizes developing strategic thinking skills into coherent political judgment and clear strategy development for internal and external change. Participants will be required to complete reading and writing assignments between sessions. Participants will also attend Innovate’s three-day overnight institute for volunteer parent leaders during the course of the program.

Through reading, seminars, reflective writing assignments, observation, and critical feedback, the program will include these topics:

  • Understanding the role of an organizer and the role of a parent leader
  • Learning Innovate’s community organizing model including: Conducting powerful 1-1 relational meetings and house meetings to build a parent network; holding research meetings to build strategic relationships with key stakeholders and public officials; coordinating large community action events to secure policy changes at the local level; practicing the art of reflection to deepen leadership capacity
  • Developing strategy and building campaigns to win local policy change around issues prioritized by parents and community members
  • Learning tools to build a strong and sustainable Parent Leadership Team of volunteer parents and community members
  • Effectively using data to build a case for the need for change in the community
  • Understanding and navigating the public arena and opportunities in the education justice movement

2019-20 Schedule

COTP Dates and Locations:- Registration due date Friday, August 16, 2019

  • September 9-11, 2019
    Vallombrosa Retreat Center – 250 Oak Grove Ave, Menlo Park, CA
  • October 7-9, 2019
    Mercy Retreat Center – 2300 Adeline Dr, Burlingame, CA
  • November 12-14, 2019
    Vallombrosa Retreat Center – 250 Oak Grove Ave, Menlo Park, CA
  • January 13-15, 2020
    Mercy Retreat Center – 2300 Adeline Dr, Burlingame, CA
  • April 27-29, 2020
    Mercy Retreat Center – 2300 Adeline Dr, Burlingame, CA

Parent Leader Institute (Both dates pending):

  • Bay Area: February 21-23, 2020
  • Los Angeles (National): March 27-29, 2020

Two 3-day Parent Leader Institutes will take place on weekends in February and March 2020.

Participant Expectations

This is training program designed for organizers with less than three years organizing experience in a local leadership or institution-based model of community organizing. Attendees will be expected to participate in sessions fully, including role-plays, observation work, feedback, and problem solving. In between sessions, participants will have reflection, writing, preparation, and required reading assignments (about two hours a month). In addition, role-playing and concentrated critical feedback are a significant piece of this program. All participants are expected to attend every session, have assignments turned in on-time and readings completed, and to demonstrate a willingness and appetite to practice role-plays and receive critical feedback from peers and training staff.

Applicant Requirements

Innovate’s training program is focused on serving education justice organizations.

We recommend that the job description of participants include at least 5 “one-to-one” meetings each week with individual parents and stakeholders, as well as a clear goal of identifying and working with/developing parents as leaders. We will be teaching participants to move along a trajectory of professional work that leads to building organization, developing a political presence through public meetings, and taking public action toward the goal of creating, supporting, and sustaining world-class public schools, particularly for underserved groups of children.

Cost

The cost per participant is $7,500. This includes lodging and meals during training sessions, but does not include any travel expenses. PLEASE NOTE THAT TRAVEL COSTS TO AND FROM EACH SESSION ARE NOT INCLUDED AND ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATION. For organizations interested in sending teams, costs are as follows: teams of 2 participants is $10,000, and teams of 3 participants is $15,000.

Contact

We are accepting applications for this program until Friday, August 16, 2019. Please contact Corey Timpson, Director, National Organizing, at ctimpson@innovateschools.org to submit your registration or for more information on this program.

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