Our Course Catalog
 

Highlight: Introductory Training

Our Introductory Training, held in August every year, includes 50 workshops over two weeks.

RECRUITMENT
This workshop covers how to involve people in a cause and an organization.

PUBLICITY
How to get the word out about your campaign, including postering, speaking to community groups and writing for a local newsletter.

USING THE INTERNET TO RECRUIT
How we use email, social media and other digital tools to recruit activists and other supporters for our campaigns.

TELLING YOUR STORY
Storytelling is the foundation of recruitment and organizing. In this workshop, we cover “the story of me, the story of us, the story of now” — a technique for telling your personal story in a way that can define a social problem, offer a solution and invite people to join together in action.

PERSONAL RECRUITING
We'll cover the best ways to do “retail recruitment” for your campaign, with a focus on petitioning, tabling, door-knocking and calling. It’s the art of one-on-one interaction.

PHONE CALLS
We drill in on how to make a great phone call that recruits and motivates prospective volunteers and other supporters.

RECRUITING COALITION PARTNERS
What's the difference between contacting a group and calling a citizen? This session will arm you with the skills to sign on organizations, businesses and VIPs to your coalition.

PUBLIC SPEAKING
How to deliver a speech that captures attention, connects with an audience, persuades people to agree with your position and motivates them to take action.

RECRUITMENT RAPS
How to deliver a 3 minute talk in a classroom or other public meeting.

MEDIA
How to gain media coverage for your campaign, organization and cause.

WRITING FOR CAUSES
We cover the craft of effective writing in the public square.

WRITING A NEWS RELEASE
What is the purpose of a news release and how do you write one that persuades reporters and assignment desks to cover your story and include your point of view?

WRITING AN EMAIL TO RECRUIT
How do you write an email that persuades your readers and recruits new activists and supporters?

WORKING WITH VOLUNTEERS: INDIVIDUAL MEETINGS
You've recruited a volunteer or intern. What are the best ways to connect and motivate that person one-on-one?

WORKING WITH VOLUNTEERS: THE LEADERSHIP LADDER
People become leaders one step at a time. In this workshop, we train how to keep volunteers engaged and having fun, and to challenge them and give them opportunities to lead.

RUNNING A MEETING
How to run a volunteer meeting, a campus chapter meeting, a field manager meeting or a meeting with interns.

FUNDRAISING
How do you ask people for money?

PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS
The basic principles of time management and planning.

PUBLIC SPEAKING 1: HOW TO DEVELOP A PRESENTATION
Organizing provides dozens of opportunities to speak in public, from speaking in front of cameras at a news conference to conducting longer presentations on your issue. How do you get started and what do you include? We review the nuts of bolts of putting together an engaging presentation from drafting a compelling speech, to crafting a top-notch sound bite that can elevate your message for your audience.

PUBLIC SPEAKING 2: STYLE
When you have the opportunity to give a presentation, you have the opportunity to get people involved in your campaign and even win over hearts and minds in your audience. In this training, we cover all presentation basics, including how to tailor to your audience, with an emphasis on longer presentations.

WRITING
How does writing for a cause differ from other forms of writing? We show how framing and messaging can put you on the right path to win over more people through your writing. You’ll learn how to use these skills to write emails to recruit activists; news releases that get reporters to your event; and opinion editorials that get published.

MEETINGS: RUNNING A MEETING
Running an effective meeting is one of the most important skills for any organizer. We look at common meeting dynamics and how to manage them. You’ll walk away from this training knowing when to have a meeting, how to plan for it, and then how to run it so your time is managed effectively, and decisions are made that keep your ball moving.

MEETINGS: GROUP DYNAMICS
Being able to work with a group and manage group dynamics in meetings and decision-making forums is a skill you’ll draw on time and time again while organizing. In this training, we go over how to work with, manage and mediate group dynamics by discussing and role-playing common situations you run into as an organizer.

LEADERSHIP
Leadership involves making decisions and carrying them out. But what if you have to decide between bad alternatives? We have tips on how to use the information you have to make smart decisions for your program, your organization and your team. After this module, you’ll know how to make choices on your own, and how to lead when making decisions in a team environment.

MOTIVATION AND PERSUASION
How do you motivate activists and persuade people to agree with your position? You talk about the problem in a way that seems real to your audience. You talk about your solution in a way that connects the dots. And you tell the story of urgency in a way that connects them to the cause. After this training, you’ll be able to tell a story of self, a story of us, and a story of now.

MANAGEMENT
You have a campaign. You have staff. Now, it’s time to manage the team. In this training, you learn how to manage paid staff both one-on-one and as a group. We cover fostering teamwork and including people in decision-making from the beginning.

WORKING WITH VOLUNTEERS: DEVELOPING LEADERS
So you’ve recruited someone as a volunteer. How do you teach that person to be a leader? We walk you through how to work with a new volunteer from day one and how to spot natural leaders. Then we go through, and practice in small groups, how to run one-on-one meetings, talk about leadership opportunities, and gradually increase reliance on them.

WORKING WITH VOLUNTEERS: BUILDING A GROUP
Volunteers can help your campaign go from zero to 60, but how do you work with new volunteers and build a group focused on your campaign goal? In this training, you’ll learn how to work with activists both one-on-one and in a group. We practice giving constructive feedback, focusing on the importance of honoring commitments, and the integrity of the process between organizer and activists.

RESEARCH
How do you conduct research for a report on a social problem? How do you come up with practical public policy solutions? After this training, you’ll be able to compile policy proposals, research reports, and craft policy solutions based on hard-hitting, well-sourced facts.

LOBBYING
Winning change means convincing people with power to do the right thing. That means identifying sources of power, gaining access to decision makers, working with friends and foes and finding common ground. This training uses practice sessions and small group role plays to help you practice the skills of lobbying, from making the call to set up the meeting, planning the agenda, and holding the meeting itself, down to the importance of follow-up.

FIELD
“Field” is another term for grassroots action and organizing. In this two-day training, you will learn how to run a field campaign, conduct district meetings, develop letter-to-the-editor or petition campaigns, and train volunteers to lobby, all while keeping it fun and building a sense of community.

COALITION-BUILDING
Winning change is easier when broad constituencies come together on an issue and push for the same solution. During this training, you’ll learn different types of coalitions and how to build one around solving the problem your organization is working to fix. After this module, you’ll also know how to work through coalition dynamics, including negotiating with leaders and managing group decision-making.

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA
Working with the media is an effective way to elevate the message of your campaign to the public and decision-makers. In this training, you’ll learn how to pitch reporters, organize a news conference, write op-eds and letters to the editor, prep for editorial boards meetings, conduct TV interviews, deal with hostile media and craft sound bites.

DIGITAL CAMPAIGNS
Organizing online will build visibility for your campaign and can help engage thousands of people quickly for urgent campaign actions. We’ll walk through the basics of creating digital content that will get attention, engage activists and donors and build your list, as well as how you can evaluate your progress and success.

ORGANIZATIONAL POWER
How do you build the power of your organization to win more social change? We explore how to build your brand, gain access to decision-makers and VIPs, and combine that with organization building to win victories. We’ll go over how to plan smart, strategic campaigns that will not only help you win in the short-term, but will make your organization stronger for next time.

STRATEGIC PLANNING
The world of social change is dynamic, and it can be easy to forget what you set out to do or why. We walk through how to break down a problem or an issue, categorize it, keep it clear, and communicate clearly with your team. After this module, you’ll understand why this is a challenging skill, how important it is to think clearly to keep your organization moving toward its goals and how to include others and help them exercise these skills as well.

RUNNING AN ORGANIZATION: BUDGETING AND ADMINISTRATION
Strong administration is a prerequisite for effective campaigns and organizations. From the very beginning, having a smart budget and tracking what you’re doing allows you to look back, see what worked and what didn’t, and get better for next time. In this training, we’ll cover the basics of how to create and propose smart budgets and how to implement, track and quantify the results of our work. Programs include Salsa, Excel, Quickbase, Wufoo and ROI.

RUNNING AN ORGANIZATION: BUILDING AND WORKING WITH YOUR BOARD
Whether you’re just getting started or working to get better, more efficient and more effective, this training takes you from soup to nuts on running an organization. You’ll hear from seasoned nonprofit leadership in this training on everything you need to know on the back-end of running an organization. We’ll address budgeting, office set-up, non-profit law principles, as well as the basics of tax status, bookkeeping and regulatory filing.

PACKAGING
A campaign is only a campaign when it has a name, a logo and a story. We walk you through how to think about the conversations already framing your issue, messaging your campaign for your audience, and how to tell your story. You’ll walk away knowing how to focus your campaign with purposeful images and well-crafted content for print and online platforms.

CREATING A CAMPAIGN
A lot of us see problems in the world that we want to fix, but not all of us know what to do next. How do you get from picking an issue to running a fully developed campaign? We walk you through the steps.

ISSUE: CONSERVATION
We cover the history of land conservation efforts from Yellowstone to recent marine reserves, ongoing threats from mining, logging and drilling interests, The Public Interest Network’s work to create new protections and defend existing conservation areas, and messaging guidance for engaging and organizing the public.

ISSUE: CLEAN ENERGY
Most Americans support increased use of solar and wind energy, but decades of policies favoring dirty energy have created extensive pollution and a powerful opposition to clean energy. Learn some nuts and bolts of clean energy production and use, and about The Public Interest Network’s campaigns to move the nation closer to a clean energy future.

ISSUE: CLEAN WATER
More than 40 years after passage of the Clean Water Act, America’s streams, rivers and lakes still suffer from pollution that limits human use and threatens aquatic life. Learn how far the U.S. has come in cleaning up waterways and how much more needs to be done; we’ll also walk through our campaigns to protect America’s waterways, the opposition and their arguments, and how we’ve mobilized the public to respond.

ISSUE: FRACKING
We will explore how high-volume hydraulic fracturing used today is different from earlier extraction methods, and review its public health and environmental consequences. Topics include The Public Interest Network’s efforts to limit fracking, and our vision for how to protect America’s water, air and open space.

ISSUE: GLOBAL WARMING
Addressing the challenge of global warming requires a profound change in how we interact with the planet. As organizers we need to understand: What are the biggest drivers of the problem? What are the politics of the issue? What are the most effective arguments for business as usual, and how do we counter them? 

ISSUE: HEALTHY FARMS, HEALTHY FOOD
This training will review the ways in which the nation’s agricultural system damages the environment and explore possible solutions. Topics include environmental and public health consequences of the nation’s food system, the policies that shape it, and how to counter opposition arguments against reform.

ISSUE: NUCLEAR ENERGY
Learn about the checkered history of nuclear power in the U.S., the forces that propelled it to widespread use, and our extensive work to limit it.

ISSUE: RECYCLING AND SOLID WASTE
Why have so many products become disposable? What does it mean for natural resources that we throw so much away? What policies can help address the problem? How can we best talk about the issue to engage citizens?

ISSUE: ANTIBIOTICS
Covers the science of how bacteria become immune to antibiotics and how farming practices, pharmaceutical regulation and public policy have contributed to the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections.

ISSUE: CONSUMER PROTECTION
We’ll investigate the shady methods businesses have used to take advantage of consumers and review the history of consumer protection campaigns, including vehicle lemon laws, product safety reforms, limits on check holds and payday loans, textbook pricing and oversight of utility companies.

ISSUE: FINANCIAL REFORM
Poorly regulated financial markets create risks for consumers and the broader economy. Topics include our campaigns to limit shady financial practices, continuing problems in the marketplace and what the right solutions are.

ISSUE: HEALTH CARE
The U.S. spends far more on health care than other industrialized nations and yet Americans have worse health outcomes. We’ll explore the causes of high and rising health care costs, policies that have been tested in various states to reduce spending and improve health, and opposition arguments that stand in the way of reform.

ISSUE: TOXICS
Learn how Americans are regularly exposed to toxic chemicals, the major problems with U.S. chemical policy, and The Public Interest Network’s past and current strategies to overcome opposition to limiting the use of toxic chemicals in the U.S.

ISSUE: TRANSPORTATION
Learn about the creation of our modern, car-centered transportation system, the problems that it creates, whether the U.S. has reached the end of the driving boom, and how our transportation system could better serve Americans’ travel needs.

ISSUE: CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
One of the most important ways we can fix our democracy and alter the political dynamics around issues we care about is by changing the role of money in politics. We’ll delve into the problems with current campaign finance practices, the history of efforts to limit the role of big money in politics, and the opportunities for long-term reform.

ISSUE: GOOD GOVERNMENT
Too often, special interests gain undue influence over government at the expense of the public. This training will review some of the tools people can employ to hold government accountable, including transparency in budgeting and spending decisions and strong ethics laws.