To help create a more accessible and participatory democracy, organizers need the skills to turn a desire to change the status quo into meaningful civic action. These fellowship programs are designed to train the next generation of progressive change-makers. We have multiple series of learning experiences for participants to gain basic, intermediate, and advanced organizing skills to implement in their communities. Fellowship tracks include foundations of community engagement and tracks for field and training professionals.
This five-part self-guided series gives participants a foundational introduction to effective conversations—discussing important issues with people who likely have a different opinion by combining social science, psychology, and best practices for political organizers. It gives participants room for practice, feedback, and application of the craft. The materials cover effective listening, communicating your values, knowing your ‘why’, developing a theory of change for how your actions lead to impact, and deep canvassing.
We have the belief that anyone taking action for the first time can become someone who creates change within their community. With these trainings, you will find how we push volunteers to become stronger leaders, with topics including our ‘fellows leaders’ program and materials, time management resources, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence.
Voter contact best practices
These resources prepare volunteers for engaging in campaigns, and ground them in understanding how to be an asset to a local issue campaign, a ballot initiative, or with a specific candidate campaign. The course features our in-depth Campaign Organizing Bootcamp facilitated by OFA trainers via recorded audio, with corresponding visual components, supporting materials, and interactive exercises. Topics include personal story, persuasion conversations, GOTV conversations, and digital organizing, as well as a two-part video series on relational voter turnout. Most content is included in both Spanish and English.
These issue advocacy trainings give participants the tools and skills needed to be effective advocates on the issues that are important to them. This includes a nine-part online deep dive into advocacy work for more experienced volunteers, and more introductory one-day and 90-minute trainings. Also included are a lobbying simulation, and graduate-level curriculum OFA staff taught at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
These modules cover the essentials for utilizing an online voice to create change. In these trainings, you will find a digital content production fellowship for entry-level digital professionals or volunteers. This Fellowship includes digital 101, email campaign strategy, email content production, planning a digital campaign, principles of digital communication, social media content production, and social media strategy. Also included are three basic digital organizing toolkits.
Toolkits and tactics
With the right resources and support, everyone—from first-time action takers to veteran organizers—can make their voices heard and achieve real, tangible results. These resources include include ‘in the moment’ guides for earned media, photography tips, town halls, and office visits. They also include toolkits and checklists covering organizing basics like one-on-one meetings and volunteer management, and guides for preparing for an event or training, facilitation tips & tricks, how to host a signature drive, and the comprehensive 2013 Obama organizing manual.
Over the years, OFA led a series of conferences, summits, and in-person trainings with progressive partners. This section includes sessions from leadership development gatherings we did for our volunteer leaders, a professional-level national trainers retreat and organizing director summit, a motivational interviewing session with Planned Parenthood, and a session on community organizing with United State of Women. These training modules include experiential learning activities to have folks apply and workshop their skills in real time with fellow training participants.