Groundswell Fund believes that the greatest win for reproductive justice in the U.S. is not any single policy, legal or electoral victory. Rather, it is an organized grassroots base sturdy enough to advance RJ for the long haul. While RJ organizations have been organizing in their communities for years and winning impressive gains, many of our grantees have told us they could be winning bigger and more often if they had an opportunity to strengthen their organizing power. To this end, Groundswell’s Grassroots Organizing Institute (GOI) supports RJ organizations building power for policy and systems change and achieving sustainability for the long haul.
GOI is not a one-size-fits-all program but aims to provide organizing fundamentals along with tailored coaching support for each participating organization. The GOI program will equip participating organizations with the skills and abilities to explore Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) work should they chose to after graduating from the program.
The first GOI cycle runs from April 2016 through December 2017. To ensure the strongest program, the cycle begins with an eight-month “pilot” phase through December 2016. Drawing on the experience of participants, coaches, trainers and staff, we will integrate new feedback into the design of the second phase (January 2017 – December 2017). Participating organizations will be expected to participate in the entire program cycle (April 2016 – December 2017). During the pilot phase, each participating organization will receive the following:
- Grant support: A $15,000 general support grant to cover a portion of the staff time needed to participate in the GOI program and meet the programmatic benchmarks and goals.
- Racial & Gender Justice education: Ongoing education to create a shared understand of the theories, strategies, and foundational texts that unify “organizers” across sectors. The education will be integrated into trainings so that the skills-building trainings and workshops are a part of the theory-to-action continuum.
- Two convenings: The first 5-day convening was held in Oakland April 11-15, 2016. This intensive program delivered most of the group training and skills-building fundamentals of the pilot. A shorter 2-day report-back and celebration will be held in Oakland on December 7-8th, 2016. Skills-building workshops will include trainings on how to:
- Recruit and retain members/volunteers;
- Utilize a Leadership Ladder of Engagement;
- Identify community-informed issue priorities;
- Develop campaign power maps and escalation tactics;
- Manage alliance and coalition dynamics to advance your organization’s campaign;
- Execute strategic communications that build the base and shape the narrative.
- Have an effective one on one (and track it!);
- Twenty hours of coaching: This includes 15 hours with a seasoned organizer, who will support them to develop internal systems to support effective organizing, design a campaign(s), create an achievable work plan(s), and implement that plan effectively. Additionally, organizations will have five hours of one-on-one communications coaching to support meaningful and attainable communication strategies that elevate their campaign work.
- Database access and training: All participating organizations will use a functioning database to capture and use organizing data. In the cases where organizations do not already have a database, the GOI program will provide contracts with NationBuilder for three years. Organizations will be supported to ensure the migration of information into the new system and will receive training on how to use basic functions.
- Mind-body practices: Access to self-care and mind-body self-awareness modalities — such as Somatics, Forward Stance, mindfulness meditation and yoga — which accelerate culture change, build group cohesion, and foster sustainability in movement building work.
Current participating organizations in the GOI program include:
ACCESS Women’s Health Justice
Access Reproductive Care – SouthEast
Audre Lorde Project
Cabrini Green Legal Aid
Carolina Youth Action Project
Gender Justice Nevada
Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
Miami Worker’s Center
Positive Women’s Network
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
The Afiya Center
Trans Queer Pueblo
Transgender, Gender-Variant, and Intersex Justice Project