The Sunrise Movement Is Hiring! Join the Effort to Stop Climate Change

The Sunrise Movement — an effort of young people dedicated to stopping climate change and creating millions of good jobs in the process — is hiring! The organization helped launch the Green New Deal into the national conversation, alongside leaders like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. They’re looking to expand their team with well-paid jobs in locations throughout the country. Check out the job opportunities here to get involved. 

Shelia Balque, On Methods for Student Recruitment

We caught up with Shelia Balque, Program Manager of Education and Career Pathways at CD Tech, for a Q&A about recruitment. Shelia supports the students in Community Planning & Economic Development (ComPlan), the CLP program offered at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

This semester, 158 students enrolled across 6 CLP-affiliated courses in their fall economic development academy. “It’s been a matter of trial and error to get to our recruitment numbers to where they are now,” Shelia told us — which has involved shifting timing, increasing outreach, and employing a variety of methods to reach students. 

Can you explain what some of your recruitment strategies have been over the years and how you’ve adjusted them?

One of the most dramatic shifts we’ve made in our recruitment efforts was shifting our program into a cohort/Academy model every semester. The ComPlan program has an array of different courses and focuses (i.e. organizing, non-profit management, urban planning etc) so re-marketing our courses on a thematic basis made it much easier to communicate to community members what they could learn in our program. For example, last fall we decided to offer courses that primarily focused on skills needed to work in the non-profit sector, which birthed our very first Non-Profit Management Academy (flyer attached). Student who participated in the Academy could choose whichever courses they wanted but was encouraged to take at least 3 which would qualify them to receive a small skills certificate from the organization. We also made our academy model stackable, meaning if a student decided to continue to participate in the following semester’s academy (i,e. the Community Organizing Academy in spring) as a full time student they would be setting themselves up to be able to earn the full Community Planning certificate (21 units) by the end of the school year. Along with shifting our program to a more cohort model, we have also increased our staffing and employed other tactics such as hosting info sessions, more frequent phone banking, community flyer drops, email blasts and promoting at local community events.

What type of in-person outreach you do? And how do you decide where to target? 

A big part of our team’s recruitment efforts are our ‘Community flyer drops’ which we try to do at least 2-3 times/week during recruitment season. It’s pretty simple; depending on the theme of that semesters’ academy, we will focus dropping of flyers in locations that have a high concentration of residents (i.e. local libraries, direct service organizations, health centers, schools, churches, etc) and places where certain target populations frequent or work (i.e. Workforce Development department for the Economic Development Academy, or local parent organizing groups for our Organizing Academy). Overall though, we try to hit up between 75-100 locations during a season to ensure the word is really getting out to the immediate community. I’ll typically drive and have my coordinator drop stacks of flyers at the locations to be efficient with our time and will usually hit up about 10-15 locations per week over the course of 8-10 weeks.

We have also held open info sessions at our office and enrollment labs on campus for local residents and returning students. Partner organizations are also encouraged to request an on-site info session/enrollment lab so their staff/members can get one-on-one support during a time that is feasible for them.  

Can you talk about the timeline of outreach — when you start for each semester?

We typically give yourself a 3-4-month recruitment season before the start of each semester. How we use that time typically looks like this:

  • 4 months before the start of semester: Strategic planning phase, research, finalizing recruitment work plans and outreach targets

  • 3 months before the start of semester: finalize marketing materials, begin emailing out materials and making in-class announcement to current students

  • 3-2 months before semesters: Begin flyer drops, early enrollment for returning students, scheduling future info sessions with organizations, weekly postings to social media

  • 1 month before semester: host enrollment labs, continue flyer drops, phonebank returning and new prospective students about upcoming deadlines, start individual enrollment troubleshooting with student ready to start adding courses

  • 2 weeks before semester: continue troubleshooting enrollment issues with individual students, continue to email, call and post reminders of upcoming start of semester

  • 1 week before-2 weeks during semester: continue to work with students with enrollment needs, table on-campus to capture any active students needing courses, support in-class new adds and communicating with department about any pending enrollment issues, finalize student roster at the end of the 2nd week of class. 

You’ve mentioned that “Non-profit management” is the most popular course, but that might be because students don’t understand what other courses, like “economic development,” entail as readily. Any strategies you’re considering to tackle that problem?

So in regards to outreaching in the future, I would like us to provide better context and maybe even materials/videos that explain what the term  “Economic development” means and how our classes can support folks in getting into the field. I also found that many of the students that have joined our Economic Development Academy are already in the development field or have been exposed to it, so we may have to consider this academy as more advanced topic/cohort since there are some fundamental awareness you would need to already have any interest in it. Nonetheless, one thing I would do differently though is better highlight our individual courses more and reframing or renaming certain courses them in a way that is more accessible.

For example, one of our classes this term is called “Market Research Tools for the Economic Development Tools (super vague right?) but in reality the course really is just teaching students how small struggling businesses can better market themselves and engage residents using skills and local resources from organizations and the city. I feel like if we take a little more time to fine tune our messaging for each of our courses and communicate it in a way that is meaningful to our students, more folks will feel more confident joining the program. 

You’ve also said you hope to increase social media as a tool in recruitment — any ideas on how yet?

Not yet, but I definitely want to get more formal training for myself and our program coordinator on how to more strategically use social media in our recruitment    campaigns. Till then though, I have started using some formal tools (like the “Social Media Check-list” attached) to help us work plan out simple social media tasks like regularly uploading engaging content on our pages and responding to comments/inquiries in a timely manner. 

What have been the biggest lessons learned in recruitment that you think could help other programs?

 I have a few: 

Be clear of who your target audience is/who you would like in your classroom. I know it can be easy to say “well, our program is open to everyone” but in reality you really do want to make the effort to do targeted outreach so you get a good blend of students with different experiences and backgrounds to enrich your program. Think in terms of geography, racial/ethnic background, age/experience, religion, economic status, current or aspiring profession etc, and then build a plan on how to meet and outreach to those folks where there are. It can also be helpful to become well acquainted with any campus groups or programs that work with students who have similar interests as your program. For example, become acquainted with your on-campus AB540/Dreamers Center if you’re trying to attract already civically engaged undocumented students to your program

Create a plan with clear goals and milestones: I’ve found that by setting out clear weekly goals and milestones for both recruitment and enrollment had made our recruitment much energizing. Since my program is at a community college which takes open enrollment, I have much a much bigger student pool than say a minor program at 4 year, so it’s important to be mindful of how much time and effort will be needed to accomplish your recruitment in timely fashion. If anyone needs a sample tracker for how I’ve recruited for my program, just let me know and I’ll be happy to share it 🙂 

Recognize that recruitment is an entire job in of itself. If you don’t have dedicated staff for recruitment, please consider hiring a couple of folks, or at the very least leveraging any internship/student worker resources to ensure you have enough hands to help get the word out. If that’s not possible, then you will need to get really creative and perhaps focus on developing formal partnerships with local orgs, programs, groups etc to help pipeline students into your program during your recruitment season. 

Lastly, develop materials that are eye catching, clear and unique to other competing programs.

De Anza Community College Celebrates Its Latest Change Makers 

Earlier this summer, De Anza Community College celebrated its  most graduates from the Certificate of Achievement in Leadership and Social Change. “We had nine completers present, spoken word, student comedy, and great food,” said the program’s director, Cynthia Kaufman. “The students talked about what they got from the program and shared appreciations.

Ben Vo, one of the recent graduates, shared with us his plans for the future. “After two great years at De Anza College where I learned not only about myself but my community at large through a social change lens, I’ve started as a transfer student at the University of California, Berkeley as an Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies major,” he said. “It feels bittersweet to be done, and I’m immensely grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had there, especially at our civic engagement institute, the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action.

Dawn Wilson-Clark on Making Kids Smile — As a Clown and Community Leader

Dawn Wilson-Clark, who is 47 years old, was clowning around one day (quite literally — she works as a professional clown) in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood when she passed a for sale sign at a house that caught her eye. When she decided to buy the house and move her five children into it everyone she knew thought she was crazy.

“Brightmoor was the hood — like hood hood,” she explained. But Dawn was determined to make a home for herself in the house and neighborhood. “All I saw was a brand new house, nice neighbors, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Dawn with husband, Jonathon

10 years later, Dawn is still there — and clearly saw something in Brightmoor that put her ahead of the curve. Soon after she moved to the neighborhood, The Skillman Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the future of Detroit’s children and families, selected Brightmoor as a priority area and began to heavily invest in it.

Skillman’s arrival would also mark the beginning of Dawn’s development as a recognized leader in her community. When the Foundation began advertising neighborhood meetings to gather community input and discuss their plan for investing in the community, Dawn decided to attend. “I had no idea what a grant was or how that worked,” Dawn laughed. “But I learned that they were giving out small grants to organizations that were doing things to help kids.”

As a mother of five whose profession is to bring joy to children as her alter ego — Kuddles the Clown — the mission of Skillman spoke to her on a visceral level. Intrigued, she wanted to know more about the group’s work, so she began to volunteer. “I started learning about all this community work happening that I didn’t know about before,” she said.

Dawn meeting with state representatives on education policy
Dawn meeting with state representatives on education policy

It didn’t take long for others to begin recognizing her leadership potential. Soon after volunteering with Skillman, she was recruited to serve on the board of the community-based organization, the Brightmoor Alliance. Later, she began working as a lead organizer and researcher for the grassroots education group, 482Forward.

There, she  learned of the Community Leadership Program at Henry Ford College from the group’s Executive Director. “I’d been doing a lot of community work by the time I enrolled in the program,” she said. “But I didn’t have a degree, and wanted to get some more training.”

Dawn, who is currently in her third semester, said she didn’t know what studying “community change” meant at first. “I’d been doing this work already so it seemed to me like community change is something you do, not go to school for.”

She quickly learned, however, that CLP-affiliated programs are not typical of many other areas of study. “Each day is different,” she said. “The classes introduce new concepts, and new ways of looking at things.”

In her first semester, she enrolled in Professor Robert Yarhmatter’s “Introduction to Community Leadership” course. Though she had already been working as an organizer, she said the course “opened her eyes” to new skills — like different ways to move different types of people to take action. “I have three teams of people I work with in my jobs,” she explained. “They’re all so different, but I’d been approaching them all in the same way — you need to recognize what is going to move one person to do something isn’t going to work on someone else.”

She also took a field trip as part of her coursework to hear Ruby Bridges speak, who at the age of six became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. “Having the opportunity to listen to her was so incredible,” Dawn said. “I realized it could have been one of my aunties up there talking, who went through the same stuff. What she went through wasn’t all that long ago.” 

Ruby Bridges

As for what’s next for Dawn, the dedicated children’s champion unsurprisingly already has her eyes set on helping groom the next generation of community leaders. “I want to help train people who think they don’t have a voice, to be a liaison between where they are now and being leaders in our communities,” she said. For her, that means continuing her role as a community organizer in education policy.

Though she’s juggling multiple jobs and leaderships roles at this point, Dawn also still plans to keep clowning around Detroit. “It’s something I just kind of stumbled into after my aunt needed a clown for a cousin’s birthday party,” she explained of her side gig. “I’m not going to give it up — I just love making kids smile.”

After Minimum Wage Increase, NYC Restaurants Are Still ‘Thriving’

Many people predicted New York’s restaurant industry would suffer a huge blow following the city’s decision to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

But a new report by the National Employment Law Project and the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs tells a different story — rather than struggle, the food industry in the city is thriving.

“New York City has seen a strong economic expansion of the restaurant industry, outpacing national growth in employment, annual wages, and the number of both limited- and full-service restaurant establishments,” the report said.

As our partner organization ROC-NY noted in a recent newsletter, every measure charted in the report — jobs, number of restaurants, average wages — exceeded national performance over the past 5 years.

“The research presented here clearly shows that the large wage
floor rise did not diminish various indicators of restaurant performance,” the report’s Executive Summary concludes.

Read the whole report here.

Why Study Community Change?

Andy Mott, founder, Senior Advisor and Board Member of Community Learning Partnership, has developed a power point presentation titled, “Why Study Community Change?” to share with the broader CLP community.

The presentation is a helpful tool for explaining to students, allies and potential partners the mission and focus of the Community Learning Partnership.

Among other resources, the presentation includes the “4 greater strengths you’ll gain minoring in community leadership and organizing,” which include:

  • Skills in Organizing and Collective Action
  • Strengths in Strategic Thinking and Planning
  • Leadership and Management Skills
  • Knowledge of the Issues You Want to Influence

Check out an online version of the power point presentation here.

Felecia Bennett-Clark of Macomb Community College Receives Award for Excellent Teaching

Felecia Bennett-Clark, a professor at Macomb Community College who teaches political science courses in the CLP-affiliated Certificate in Community Leadership program, received the 2019 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award. The honor is given to recognize community and technical college educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and contribution to their students and colleagues.

To be eligible for the honor, faculty members submit an essay that demonstrates their teaching philosophy, and also must receive a recommendation from the dean in their academic area. The members of NISOD, an organization “committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning and leadership,” review each nomination prior to selecting each year’s recipients. 

Congratulations to Felecia on the much-deserved honor!

CLP: a ‘Program You Should Know About,’ According to Bringing Theory to Practice

Community Learning Partnership was featured in a recent issue of the “Bringing Theory to Practice” newsletter, titled “Programs You Should Know About and Books You Should Read.”

In a section called, “learning from our friends,” the BTtoP newsletter described the CLP network as a national effort “focusing solely on the unacceptable shortage of leadership positions held by people of color and people from low-income and working-class backgrounds.

We’re honored to be included, and also wanted to share a bit more about BTtoP, which itself is an effort you should know about. The group grounds its work in three “commitments” that are closely aligned with our own:

  • Undergraduate education should be holistic and transformative, nurturing active and integrative learning, personal well-being, preparation for meaningful work, and democratic citizenship. 
  • “Educating the whole student” must include students of all backgrounds, interests, and educational settings. 
  • The first two commitments require significant change in higher education. BTtoP works to advance this mission through innovative practice, research, advocacy, and institutional change.

Deborah M. Pfleigel

Southeast Michigan Coordinator. Early in her career Deborah was a leader in the state of Ohio in career and technical education, working to build and staff secondary career education centers. In a career shift Deborah transitioned to the private sector with General Motors Corporation where she used her experience in youth and adult education to lead apprenticeship programs, plant level foreman training programs, union-management joint programs, college recruiting and cooperative education programs. More recently Deborah transitioned back to the non-profit sector where she was Chief Operating Officer of the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, a non-profit developing youth through music and theatre.  In 2012 she became Chief Programs Officer for ACCESS, the largest Arab-American human services agency in the country. 

John Krinsky

New York City Coordinator. John Krinsky is a professor of political science, with an interest in labor and community organizing in New York. He specializes in urban politics, the politics of social movements, and the politics of work, welfare and labor. He is a co-editor of the online peer-reviewed journal Metro-politics and a co-editor of the journal Social Movement Studies. He co-coordinates the Politics and Protest Workshop at the CUNY Graduate Center and is a founding board member of the New York City Community Land Initiative.