“Our commitment to inter-culturality, interfaith dialogue, and solidarity with marginalized people and the exploited earth are ways we participate in God’s mission.” -2012 General Assembly, Missionary Society of St. Columban

The Advocacy Leadership Program is designed to give young adults (ages 18 - 35) the tools, the experience, and the network to be effective advocates for social justice and the common good. As a program of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO), our primary advocacy goals are the creation of an ecologically sustainable society and the implementation of humane US/MX border policy. 

Our program is informed by our core values:

  1. Interculturality: We believe that “a life unlike our own can be our teacher.” We accept intercultural diversity - that is, we are willing to humbly listen to the wisdom and experience of other communities - because it changes us for the better. Our minds broaden and our hearts deepen. Not only does it make us more aware of our own cultural values and attitudes, it makes us aware of the inherent dignity of others. 

  2. Social Justice: We believe that social injustice should be solved by addressing its “root causes.” In order to accomplish this, policies and decisions must be informed by the experiences of the communities most impacted by those policies and decisions. This includes those living in poverty, communities of color and indigenous communities, and those who are marginalized, including the earth.  

  3. Solidarity: we recognize the moral challenge of worldwide and local poverty, exploitation, and marginalization (even if we do not directly experience these challenges) and allow this recognition to inform our thoughts and actions. We support the struggle of those who are poor and marginalized (including the earth) for real participation in all civic and social institutions and for justice. 

The Advocacy Leadership Program is offered once every two months. Participants are expected to commit to the full program, which consists of six weeks of activity. This includes preparatory meetings and readings, three nights of virtual training, four weeks of advocacy “field work,” and one night of virtual follow-up. 

Advocates will receiving training in the following areas:

  1. Advocacy Strategy

  2. Storytelling & Communications 

  3. Community Organizing 

  4. Influencing Decision Makers 

You can find a sample agenda for the virtual training here

Upon completing the entire program, participants will be given a certificate of completion.

Expectations of Participants 

Participants of the Advocacy Leadership Program are expected to commit to the full program, which consists of six weeks of activity. This includes preparatory meetings and readings, three nights of virtual training, four weeks of advocacy “field work,” and one night of virtual follow-up. More specific details are below. 

Before the Training

In the weeks leading up to the virtual training, participants will have a brief one-on-one meeting with the Program Manager and an introductory meeting with their cohort. 

Cohorts are groups of participants who are from the same Congressional district. Cohorts will be “break out” groups during the virtual training as well as the people participants will collaborate with during advocacy “field work.” They are also the beginning of a participant’s advocacy network.

Participants are also expected to complete a number of readings before the training. Those readings will be sent to the participants by the Program Manager. 

The Training 

The training will be conducted virtually over the course of three evenings. You can find a sample agenda for the virtual training here

Participants are required to attend all three evenings. They are also expected to complete short assignments after the first and second evenings. 

After the Training: Advocacy “Field Work”

Participants will put their new knowledge into practice in their Congressional district. Where not required, cohorts are encouraged to do this as a group. 

They will have four weeks to complete the minimum number of activities detailed in this chart. During their advocacy "field work," participants must advocate on behalf of one of CCAO's advocacy goals.

After the Training: Follow-up Meeting

Four weeks after the last night of the virtual training, participants are expected to attend a virtual follow-up meeting. At this meeting, participants will reflect on their advocacy “field work” experience. Cohorts will also present their 6-month advocacy strategy. 

The meeting will end with a brief certification ceremony. Certificates will only be given to those who have completed the entire program and will be sent in the mail.

 

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