Democracy Corps Program Details
DemocracyCorps is an intensive ten-week political training program for emerging leaders. Fellows spend the summer in Chicago, grassroots organizing, developing leadership skills, and managing and formulating campaigns. Hands-on democracy is our specialty – that means DemocracyCorps Fellows learn by doing (a lot). Alumni leave the program with the ability to be champions for the issues they are passionate about and ready to hit the ground running in a career in public service, politics or organizing. Think of it as a summer of high-impact service, training, and life changing conversations.
Not for the faint of heart, this program is going to challenge you and your peers to really grow as individuals, as leaders and as a team. On the flip side, it’s going to be a ton of fun, and you’ll leave with lasting friendships and great stories. Not to mention you’ll have a leg up on peers and a new network of besties to holler at!
The program is made up of several parts
Fellows learn how to develop and implement campaign plans from hands-on work. Fellows spend the first weeks of the program learning the nuts and bolts of effective people-powered politics. During that process, fellows design their own 7-week mini-campaign. Campaigns typically include large-scale voter registration drives, canvassing around an issue or policy in neighborhoods or at hot (literally and figuratively) music festivals, and mobilizing tons of volunteers to quadruple our impact.
Fellows take classes from progressive experts from across the city. Classes make up a portion of most days. Leaders from all sorts of backgrounds (community organizing, elected officials, national activists, advocacy and politicos) give presentations, workshops and trainings to fellows on a wide variety of topics. The first two weeks focus on practical skills including campaign plan writing, voter registration tactics, volunteer recruitment and the rest of the summer is a combination of hands-on trainings in other campaign skills like online organizing, public relations and communications, and fundraising. There is also plenty of time for theoretical debate/discussion with really smart people.
Fellows are in the community and on the ground. The fieldwork takes up (most of) the rest of the summer. DemocracyCorps Fellows spend the first week or so of the program collectively deciding what to focus on from a menu of field options. Fellows write and design their own field program – and then implement it over the summer. Afternoons and evenings are spent doing field work and gaining valuable hands-on experience.
Fellows get a deep education about the great city of Chicago and its diverse communities, its expansive community of progressive leaders and all of the city’s aaaaamazing summer events and festivals. Most participants leave the program with a (renewed) love of Chicago, its history and its people. Though the program is in Chicago, the skills and experience translate across geographic lines.
Fellows are Friends for Life. As a team, the fellows will spend endless hours together working crazy hard–and you’re bound to make some friends that will stay with you long after the program ends. Social movements take social cohesion, and there is nothing like putting a bunch of talented people together on a mission to change the world. Sorta like summer camp, but with the coolest people you’ve ever met.
Day in the Life
A typical weekday at DemocracyCorps begins 10am with a morning check-in and the class/workshop or training. This usually lasts until 12 or 1pm. After a break for lunch, fellows have a daily field check-in meeting and then work on their field campaign in the afternoon and evening – planning, doing field work, recruiting and managing volunteers, etc. We also often squeeze in organization site visits, community trainings or events, networking opportunities and house parties. Field time is followed by a nightly check-out and data entry.