Developing Training Sessions for Grassroots Advocacy

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New York


New York

Organization Overview:

TransitCenter works to improve transit in order to make cities more just and environmentally sustainable. We know that frequent, fast, reliable public transit is essential for cities to thrive. Our experience is that the greatest challenges facing transit are human, not technological, and that transit reform depends on high-performing public agencies and strong citizen-led advocacy. To that end, we support, inform, connect, and fund the civic and public leaders working to make transit better. We are also advocates ourselves. Through grant-making, research, technical assistance, and public programs, we provide a practical transportation agenda for cities across the country.

Project Name:

Developing Training Sessions for Grassroots Advocacy
Project Type: 
Program Development

Project Overview:

TransitCenter is reshaping our advocacy program to better align with our strategic plan.  We will be placing greater emphasis on funding and supporting organizations who have riders, particularly lower income riders and people of color, directly involved in core organizational functions, such as recruitment of other members, public speaking, meetings with government decision makers, and program design and evaluation. This transition is being led by Mary Dailey, our director of Advocacy and Organizing. She a seasoned community organizer and non-profit manager and a PENN FAS grad ’82.

TransitCenter’s Advocacy Team is comprised of three additional staff people with backgrounds in planning, government and direct advocacy.  In order to adjust our strategy, the team members need to learn more about players in the change sector, theories of change and practical skills associated with grassroots organizing and movement building.  TransitCenter is developing an internal set of trainings to support our staff the FELS student would work with the team to move the training program from it’s current state of a good idea with sporadic implementation to a well-defined series of sessions with clear learning objectives. 
Mary has an extensive network to draw on for the training series and through this project the student will meet several highly skilled and experienced community organizers from various traditions.


Under supervision of Director of Advocacy and Organizing and with input from all team members the student will produce:

  • An outline of training sessions for TransitCenter’s  advocacy team staff , some of which will be repurposed for use with grantees and field partners
  • Define learning objectives for the training series both overall and for individual sessions
  • Interview potential trainers and flesh out content of sessions based on those interviews, capturing exercises, and the rationale for why trainers approach the subject matter in particular ways
  • Assemble a list of trainers matched against subject matter
  • Help evaluate current training sessions to determine what to keep and change in curriculum
  • Put together a time line
  • Help with logistics for trainings that occur while the student is working with the team

The student will be welcome to assist with other projects, time allowing, and will be encouraged to participate in some of the team's weekly staff meetings to build relationships and to provide context for their project.

Project Timeline: TransitCenter is already holding training sessions but they are inconsistent because of limited time that our senior staff has to devote to this project.  To date we have held three training sessions and we have an ambition to hold three more in the next 60 days.  The student should expect that we will be holding sessions throughout the time period, not waiting until the full project is completed.  The project will add definition as we go along, clarify expectations and overall strengthen our ability to prepare the staff team for program changes we have underway for 2021.

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326