The Freedom Institute for Social Change is an Education Fund project designed to build strategic relationships between and among low-income communities of color, young people, and new immigrant communities in states where these communities are committed to advancing a shared agenda. The Freedom Institute leverages the expertise of community-based, state and national organizations to train fellows in strategic communications, field organizing, and policy development.
Community leaders, students, advocates and members commit themselves to participating in a series of three trainings held once a month over three months where they will learn to advocate for issues of great importance in coalition, which enables advocates in participating states to build multiethnic, multiracial coalitions supporting civil and human rights.
Each institute is tailored to the needs of the participating organizations, fellows, and the political, social, and economic realities of each community and state. However, the three trainings, which are designed to build on one another, generally accomplish the following goals:
Workshop 1 – Our History, Our Community, Our Goals, Our Constitutional Rights
Workshop 1 is designed to help fellows understand how all of our issues are interconnected and to build a sense of community. It provides space for discussing the history of the civil, human and immigrant rights movements, as well as the current state of these movements. Fellows share their own history (how they or their family arrived in the state, why they came and what they experienced as part of the broader community) and their experiences today (how they are treated, how is it for them, and what could be better) in order to build genuine connections and linkages with one another.
Workshop 2 – Tools for Change
Workshop 2 provides fellows with hands-on training that will help them learn how to develop local multiethnic, multiracial organizing campaigns. We provide training on community organizing, advocacy and civic engagement, media and spokesperson training, legislative advocacy, social media and coalitions through the lens of conducting campaigns in coalition, rather than on behalf of one constituency.
Workshop 3 – Advocacy in Action
Workshop 3 provides participants with the space to start thinking about how to put what they’ve learned into practice, with an eye toward an actual coalition action to be undertaken in the months following the institute. The key will be to help the participants identify the issues that matter to them on which to build a campaign (education, jobs, criminal justice, immigration, etc.)
- 2011 – Nebraska Prairie Freedom Project, a partnership between The Leadership Conference Education Fund and Nebraska Appleseed.
- 2011 – South Carolina Freedom Institute for Social Change, a partnership between The Leadership Conference Education Fund
- 2015 – New Orleans Freedom Institute for Social Change, a partnership between The Leadership Conference Education Fund and VAYLA New Orleans