Across the country, organizers are working with parents, teachers, students and other community stakeholders to take collective action on behalf of students. If you’re ready to join their ranks, LEE's Community Organizing Fellowship (COF) could help you get there.
The COF places LEE members who are current Teach For America corps members or recent alumni in paid, three- to six-month, full-time fellowships with major community organizing networks or organizations, where they gain valuable experience organizing communities.
Fellows acquire the proven skills of community organizing while directly affecting outcomes for students and families. LEE fellows also benefit from ongoing professional development and networking opportunities with other fellows and organizers.
LEE member Will Fuller (TFA Greater Nashville ’10) speaks to his experience as a Community Organizing Fellow in the fall of 2016 with POWER Philadelphia, an interfaith organization committed to implementing systemic change for the betterment of Pennsylvania.
What led you to apply for the COF?
I applied for the COF after attending a National Organizing Workshop (NOW) in February 2015. I was in seminary at the time and desperate to find alternate leadership training to supplement my seminary experience. I was also looking for a way to get more directly involved in the movement for educational equity. Through exposure to the organizing cycle at the NOW, I became energized by the potential that organizing had as a profession. I decided to apply for the COF the following spring.
What is the most exciting part of your COF experience?
I enjoyed many things about the fellowship, but perhaps the most exciting aspect was having a direct, personal impact on the movement for social justice in education. During my time in the classroom, I often felt that, although I was impacting the lives of my students, I wasn’t doing anything to change the systemic inequities in education. In my time as a Community Organizing Fellow, I spent each day working to change policies at local, state and national levels in order to benefit kids. Seeing that direct impact strengthened my faith and gave me energy to pursue educational justice.
How do you think the COF will help you in the future?
Besides directly providing me with a career opportunity after the fellowship, the COF allowed me to network with a quality group of colleagues across the country. I look forward to growing in my role as an organizer through these connections.
What have you done since your COF experience?
I signed a contract with my host organization to become the full-time suburban organizer in 2017. I’ll be working with a broad coalition of congregations across suburban Philadelphia to organize on issues of economic dignity, educational equity and criminal justice reform.
How has LEE helped you in your mission to end educational inequity?
LEE has provided numerous training opportunities through which I’ve built usable skills and increased my capacity as an organizer. Because of this, I have a growing confidence in my ability to organize around educational equity, and thus, my contribution to the movement has grown.
In addition, LEE has connected me with like-minded individuals across the country. By expanding my network, LEE has further ingrained the sense that I’m but one piece in a larger national movement to provide all students with an opportunity to have a rigorous, life-changing education.
Throughout Will’s four months as a Community Organizing Fellow, he made 72,112 phone calls to Philadelphians; knocked on 5,092 doors; and was able to directly impact at least 12,280 lives through in-person conversations, registering new voters and collecting pledge cards.
Want to find out how many lives you could impact? Apply to become a Community Organizing Fellow in Summer 2017! Applications due Friday, April 14, 2017, at 11:59 PM PT.
Learn more about the Community Organizing Fellowship here.
If you have additional questions, please reach out to Charlene Mack, program manager of organizing career leadership, at email@example.com.