What is required of programs that join the Advocacy Learning Center?

The Advocacy Learning Center provides programs the opportunity to reconsider the way you do advocacy with women/survivors and to re-think the role of advocacy in the larger movement to end violence against women.

We seek programs that are enthusiastic about improving advocacy and can meet the requirements.


18-month organizational commitment

You are committing your organization to a process that will lead to re-designing aspects of your advocacy with women/survivors and systems.


 Program team composition

Your organization’s team should minimally include:

  • 1 front-line advocate or crisis counselor currently doing direct advocacy, and
  • 1 manager or executive director
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Participation by decision-makers with authority to implement operational changes in your program is essential for success. So are team members who can share what they are learning with other advocates in your program and will engage these colleagues in evaluating and modifying your organization’s advocacy practices. Who you choose for your team is important.

For coalitions and networks, staff who coordinate, manage or conduct training for your organization would be ideal and including staff from your coalition member programs is also a great idea.

Certain components of the course – such as keynote lectures – will be open to all members of your organization.

At the end of 18-months, each member of your team will have finished the course. Based on what they’ve learned, your organization will have made operational changes that strengthen your advocacy.


 Staff time needed

To make it possible for busy advocates to complete the course, much of the curriculum is delivered through
distance learning and self-study opportunities.
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All team members will attend the in-person events: a 4-day immersion training
a 3-day institute and a 2-day training. A site visit will be conducted by 1 team member to a model social change agency.

Each month, team members will take part in at least one element of the course, which may be a self-study component, or webinar requiring less than 2 hours total.

 


 Participant FAQs

 

About proposing a team:

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Who should we propose for our team?
Advocacy programs differ in size, structure, focus, staff/volunteer roles, etc., so selecting proposed team members can be tricky. Also, some previous ALC teams have reported after attending the initial Immersion training that a different team would have more closely matched the intent of the course which had then become clearer to them: to examine, reflect on and make changes in your organization to strengthen your advocacy for women/survivors. When you apply, you will propose a team, but if selected we may contact you to discuss and possibly change your team membership.
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For programs who do direct advocacy: ideal team members include experienced advocates or crisis counselors who:

  • are enthusiastic about advocacy,
  • are knowledgeable about (but not necessarily experienced in) all of the advocacy efforts in your organization,
  • have experience doing more than one type of advocacy (individual, institutional, community, transnational, other),
  • have advocated with victims experiencing different forms of violence against women (sexual violence, domestic assault, trafficking, stalking, abuse in later life, other), and
  • have the capacity to communicate about (or train on) the ALC program to other frontline advocates and staff in your organization,

…and managers or decision-makers with

  • the same enthusiasm, knowledge, experience and capacity noted above, but also have authority to implement operational changes in your program.

For coalitions and networks: Staff who coordinate, manage or conduct training for your organization would be ideal and including staff from your coalition member programs is also a great idea.

Please remember…

  • the ALC course is not intended to be training for new advocates. We are looking for teams who will commit to an 18-month examination and experimentation process.
  • an advocate may do education in the schools, meet with survivors in the hospital or help victims to file protective orders (which is all very important work) but not be familiar with the individual, community or institutional advocacy your program does, nor interact much with the advocates doing this work, which could limit contributions to the team.
  • a volunteer coordinator may oversee the majority of the advocacy/crisis counseling your organization provides, and train this volunteer pool, bringing a wealth of experience.

We are happy to help you think through the ideal team membership for your program before you apply. Please call 651-699-8000 ext. 16 or email advocacy@praxisinternational.org to arrange a call.

Are Family Justice Centers eligible to apply?
Family Justice Centers (FJCs) are not eligible to apply. However, community-based advocacy organizations co-located within an FJC may apply to participate. While community-based advocacy organizations that are co-located at FJCs are working in a coordinated fashion with system-based organizations and agencies, it is vital that they maintain their unique role in advocating for victims and provide ongoing leadership in advocating for system changes in the response to victims. The ALC can be greatly beneficial to many of the community-based advocacy organizations that are serving as a partner at a Family Justice Center.

How many team members should we propose?
At least two (a manager and a front-line advocate or crisis counselor), and three is good. In rare cases we will accommodate four if your organization is especially large, with many programs, or is geographically organized in such a way that it would make sense to include one person from each office, or another reason you may have and indicate on the application form. However, subsidies will be limited to up to 3 team members. The number of team members you propose is less important than who you propose. You want to select team members who will commit to and have the capacity to, in a focused way, examine possible organizational changes to your advocacy.

What if we are a very small program and can’t send a team?

The important thing is that this be a key person who is able to make or influence change in your program. Please call us to discuss.

What if a team member leaves our employment?

We know you’ll make every attempt to select team members who will complete the 18-month course. However, if a team member leaves your program, we will work with you to determine if a replacement team member makes sense. In some cases, your team will simply complete the course with one less team member. In other cases, we may be able to replace them since we start a new class every 6 months and course activities are repeated. If a new team member needed to attend the next 4-day immersion training, your organization would need to cover the person’s travel costs if we had already subsidized your travel.

How will our staff members who aren’t on the team benefit from the course?

Although your program’s team will be immersed in consistent, focused exploration with the other members of your class, we also expect your team to engage your whole staff in discussion, consideration, and testing of new ideas and methods of advocacy. Interacting with colleagues who are involved in the Advocacy Learning Center experience over an 18-month period will be an effective way for the rest of your staff to contribute to and carry out organizational change.

 

About the cost:

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How do the subsidies work?
If you have adequate OVW set-aside funds, or access to other funds, to cover all of your team’s travel costs you will be asked to designate those funds for this purpose. If you have enough funds to cover some travel, OVW will subsidize the rest. For example, if you can cover travel for your full team to the 4-day immersion training but not the 3-day or 2-day training or site visit, then subsidies will cover the remaining travel costs. Or, if you can pay for travel for your 2-person team member to attend the 4-day immersion training, but only pay for person to attend the next event, then OVW subsidies will cover the cost for the remaining person, as well as travel costs for your full team for the remaining event and site visit.

If you are an advocacy partner on an OVW-funded project or an advocacy program funded through a tribal government, OVW staff may be able to communicate with the official grantee of the project on your behalf, if necessary, to discuss possible support for your team to participate.

We will work with each selected organization to make sure you have the resources sufficient to meet your needs. Non-grantees will also be eligible for partial or full subsidies.

How can we gain access to federal OVW set-aside training funds?

If your organization has been awarded a grant directly from OVW, you will be familiar with the set-aside training funds that you receive and are required to spend on OVW-sponsored training. If selected for the Learning Center, you will be asked to use these funds for part or all of your travel expenses. Call your OVW program specialist with any questions about use of your travel funds in your grant.

 

About being an OVW grantee:

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What if we don’t know if we are an advocacy partner on an OVW-funded project?

Contact us and we’ll help you figure this out.

What if we have a pending OVW application and won’t know for a while if we’re being funded?

Apply to the Learning Center now anyway. If you are not funded, a limited number of non-grantee advocacy organizations may also be selected for the course. Applying will not affect any pending grant award applications. If your program is selected for the ALC and you receive a subsidy, and then subsequently, receive a grant award, we will review your subsidy need.

What if our OVW-funded project is ending soon or ending during the 18-month course?

That’s okay; apply to the Learning Center now anyway. Participation in the course is not dependent on your grant’s time period.

 

About the time commitment:

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How can we afford the time to do this?

This is a rare opportunity, but we also know it can be challenging to an advocacy organization to make this commitment of staff time while continuing to provide services to victims. That is why we deliver much of the curriculum through distance learning and self-study opportunities.

You will need to arrange for coverage at the office while your team attends the in-person events, but beyond this the typical time required of the Advocacy Learning Center participants each month will be 60-90 minutes for a webinar or audio conference, with some months requiring two webinars. The self-study courses can be completed as time allows. Your organization’s commitment of time and resources can yield immediate benefits to your advocacy staff and the women/survivors you work with as well as lead to significant progress in the long-term effort to end violence against women.

 

About ALC course feedback:

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What have past participants said about the ALC?

We are constantly evaluating our programming, to ensure it is the most relevant to advocacy needs in our shared goal of ending violence against women. Here are some of the comments we’ve received from our evaluations:

  • Life-changing…definitely gives a new way to examine systems and the way in which we do advocacy.
  • This has changed us so dramatically in every discussion, everything we have done and now will be doing.
  • The ALC combines key concepts critical to victim services and systems advocacy that are not available anywhere else.
  • I wish I could re-do my last 5 years of advocacy.

What advocates say about the Advocacy Learning Center – a project of Praxis International and Manavi in partnership with the Office on Violence Against Women