We know that having a committed core of talented, professional community organizers is critical to winning justice for local communities. DART invests significant time and resources into ensuring that organizers at all levels grow and develop personally and professionally.
Training of professional community organizers takes place in four phases. Each phase includes performance standards, mentoring, and evaluations to build on strengths and identify areas for skill development.
While some travel is required to attend regional and national trainings and retreats, the majority of the training that organizers receive takes place in the city in which they are hired.
The Institute begins with an intensive four-day classroom training followed by five months of infield training. Field training involves weekly training sessions guided by Lead Organizers alongside readings and reflections led by DART Center staff.
Goals for the Organizers Institute:
- Understand basic organizing principles – how to develop relationships, identify leaders, articulate mission, run successful meetings and events
- Explore personal vision and motivations – discuss ‘why’ one organizes
- Develop an ability to understand and engage community leaders around their self-interests
Organizers typically remain in an Associate Organizer position for their first three years of employment within the DART network. While working as an Associate, organizers attend: three two-day training and planning retreats, DART’s national five-day training orientation, two DART regional leadership trainings, a summer staff retreat, and joint regional staff trainings.
Goals for Associate Organizers:
- Develop the discipline of time management – practice daily, weekly, and long-term planning disciplines to achieve personal balance and professional goals
- Introduce major organizing drives – building on basic principles, first year organizers will set goals and learn how to engage large numbers of people in major organizing drives/events
- Continue personal vision/motivational formation – develop one’s ‘justice story’
- Promotion into positions of greater leadership among the team of organizers
Senior Associate Organizers
After at least two years of experience and demonstrated excellence at managing the three core processes of the organization, organizers can be promoted to a Senior Associate Organizer position. As a Senior Associate, they work with their Lead Organizer to design and implement a special project that will strengthen their local organization and their own skill set. This project may involve a strategic issue campaign, recruiting new member congregations, or strengthening a core process in a significant way. In addition to attending all of the trainings that Associate organizers attend, Senior organizers receive additional individualized coaching from their Lead Organizer and DART staff.
Goals for Senior Associates:
- Gain experience leading organizing processes. Options include: leading an issue campaign from start to victory, recruitment of new congregations, or driving the local member driven funding process.
- Gain exposure to sound organizational operations – board development, long-range strategic planning and assessments, record keeping, selecting and training new staff, etc.
- Continue personal vision/motivational formation – ‘why’ one organizes
- Advancement into Lead Organizer position where appropriate
Lead Organizer Placement
Lead Organizers receive regular site visits and telephone contact from DART’s Executive Consultants and experienced organizers. In addition, they attend DART’s Lead Organizer meeting, lead DART trainings and retreats for Associate Organizers, and help with finding new and innovative ways to improve DART’s organizing practices.
Goals for the Lead Organizer Period:
- Internalize organizing principles by coaching and mentoring new organizers as defined by DART’s professional development plan
- Develop advanced vision for building a self-sustaining and growing congregation-based justice ministry organization to deal with issues of justice
- Promote successful Lead Organizers into leadership roles among DART organizations regionally