The Activist Institute
The Activist Institute is a semester-long program for students to learn practical organizing, advocacy, and communication skills, preparing them to enter the non-profit sector and address issues affecting the young generation. We create communities of students who live together and tackle social issues holistically through internships at local non-profits, discussions with like-minded peers, networking opportunities with non-profit leaders, and a residential setting where students live out the principles they stand by.
At the Activist Institute, fifteen to twenty students live together in a house, or “Institute,” in a major U.S. city for a semester. Each Institute focuses on one social issue and is located in the city where students may best explore that particular issue. Students are placed in internships relating to their interests and the house issue. The house supplements the internship with regular activities—museum visits, field trips, lectures, workshops, and discussions each week regarding the house issue. The house is a socially conscious environment where daily life reflects the values of our students. They embrace the motto: “work it, learn it, live it.” They work on issues in a formal internship setting, learn more about the issues through house events and activities, and live by the principles they support inside the house with their peers.
The AI is set to open in the summer of 2012 with the Energy, Environment and Sustainability Institute in Washington, D.C. We hope to eventually have a human rights house in New York, an immigration house in Los Angeles, a labor rights house in Baltimore, and many more institutes to create a network of young progressive communities across the country.