Jim Jontz Advocacy Fellowship

(Photo courtesy of Calumet Region Archives, Indiana University Northwest)

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A New Generation

The ADA Education Fund is launching a new program to recruit, train, and activate a new generation of professional progressives. In honor of former ADA President Jim Jontz and his own dedication to building for a progressive future, we have named this new fellowship the Jim Jontz Advocacy Fellowship.

The Jim Jontz Advocacy Fellowship presents a valuable opportunity for young progressives to gain experience with a strong organization. Our program will train Fellows in progressive values, organizing techniques and help develop skills to participate in electoral campaigns and in building a career in non-profit advocacy.

The program will be structured so that each student will have identified goals of learning and accomplishment. With a detailed program of activist training, practical application in the form of assigned tasks, structured individualized program goals, course credit, and political career guidance we believe that students can be brought into the progressive movement in a meaningful and sustainable way.

ADA’s Working Families Win, the community organizing project founded by Jim Jontz, provides a solid vehicle for an Fellowship program because of its established relationship with schools and students and because it provides immediate opportunities for young people to be trained, supervised by an experienced political organizer, and to gain direct knowledge in a wide range of organizing and political skills.

Working Families Win is constantly active in issue and electoral advocacy from staging weekly health care rallies to placing letters to the editor on key issues to hosting candidate forums on pocketbook issues, WFW strives to drive the debate in our project communities and Jontz Advocacy Fellows will gain real experience in assisting, planning, and carrying these types of actions and more.

The Program

Jim Jontz Advocacy Fellows will be trained in basic advocacy and campaign skills by a combination of national, regional, and local experts through a variety of methods as well as be encouraged to expand on this training with existing programs such as Wellstone Action. Jim Jontz Advocacy Fellows will then be assigned a series of basic tasks culminating in a larger political or policy outcome. Jim Jontz Advocacy Fellows will complete a report on their work and receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts.

Basic activities will include items such as:

  1. Writing a letter to the editor on a policy issue;
  2. Organizing a phone bank campaign;
  3. Organizing door-to-door or street canvassing;
  4. Writing a press release;
  5. Organizing a press event;
  6. Engaging in citizen lobbying;
  7. Participating in and helping organize a public policy or political forum;
  8. Registering voters;
  9. Conducting a visibility action;
  10. Actively engage an elected official at public appearance to educate and secure policy commitments;
  11. Participate in a community project;
  12. Conduct issue research;
  13. Recruit volunteers into activities;
  14. Volunteer for a candidate or issue campaign

The Fellowship will conclude with the student preparing a summary of their experiences and a short reflective paper to be presented to the ADA Advocacy Fellowship Advisory Board for review.

Finally, the ADA Ed Fund will seek to build a strong and active Jim Jontz Advocacy Fellow alumni network to help guide the program through continued participation as advisors and trainers for future classes of Fellows and to help former Fellows network for their own career success.

To find out more about this program, contact Don Kusler at 202-785-5980 or dkusler@adaction.org.


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ADA Education Fund

The ADA Education Fund is an independent, charitable entity that focuses on increasing public awareness through education and community organizing that builds capacity for change. The Ed Fund produces periodic policy briefs, hosts progressive speakers on a range of issues, sponsors advocacy and research fellowships, and works to expand civic participation through community organizing around economic and social justice issues.