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Campus Organizing Summit - San Francisco: Learning beyond the classroom

“You’ve never had better tools to make a difference. Reject pessimism, cynicism, and know that progress is possible. Progress is not inevitable, it requires struggle, discipline, and faith.” —President Barack Obama, April 2016

For decades, college campuses have played an important role in the progressive movement, pushing for change on issues big and small. On campuses across America, students from different backgrounds and all walks of life come together to learn, engage, and develop their passions. It's in environments like these—amongst peers, neighbors, and friends—that movements are born.

That’s why training students on college campuses to turn their passion into action has become one of OFA’s top priorities over the years. Working with students to channel their enthusiasm, and empowering them with the tools and resources to start making a difference in their communities, is at the core of OFA's mission and will help to sustain this movement and the fight for progressive issues for years to come.

In light of that mission, I couldn't be more proud to report back on OFA’s most recent organizing summit. Earlier this month, OFA staff and veteran volunteers gathered at the University of San Francisco for a national summit on campus organizing, which dozens of student organizers from institutions across the country attended. These students represented more than 20 campuses from 10 different states.

Campus organizing summits are designed to teach students the key elements of building an effective issue campaign with a curriculum that combines real-world examples as well as hypothetical challenges. Students first learn how to establish an achievable organizing goal, and then determine which strategies and tactics are best suited to support that goal.

“[My favorite part of the summit was] the connection we were able to make between each stage of the planning process. I feel well equipped to go back to my campus and engage students on a variety of topics and in multiple ways.”

At the end of the summit, students present their issue campaign plans in a team competition, where the team with the best presentation wins the support of an academic sponsor—the first step in moving their issue campaign forward.

The students attending the summit in San Francisco came from unique backgrounds and had a wide range of organizing experience, but summit organizers and coaches made sure that every student went home equipped with the skills needed to drive progressive change forward on their campuses. With enough practice, and maybe a little help from supporters like you, these students will go on to lead successful campaigns extending far beyond their own universities.

Bringing change to a community often requires effective strategies, a lot of planning, and thoughtful leadership. As President Obama has said, you need “more than just passion for change; you need a strategy. Change requires more than righteous anger. It requires a program, and it requires organizing.” And now, I’m happy to report that we have an incredible group of new student organizers who know it, too, and are ready to make an impact in their own communities.

“This was a great experience, and I know I will be able to bring this home with me and help other passionate students create movements.”

If you're interested in learning more about OFA's training programs, sign up below to stay up-to-date on future opportunities and events.

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P.S. - Be sure to check out more photos from the summit in the slideshow below—there are some great shots!




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