More Details

Please read this page before filling out your Fellowship application. You can also learn more by signing up for our information call on October 6. If you have more questions, please contact Allegra Heath-Stout at aheathstout@joinforjustice.org or 857-869-2057.


What do you mean by “community organizing” and “social justice”? 

Community organizing means developing leaders and bringing people together to act on their own behalf to make systemic changes in their lives. Community organizers are people who want to stir things up and motivate people to act for change, who embrace challenge, and who think strategically about power.

Working for social justice means seeking systems-level change, addressing social problems at their roots. We believe that justice would mean having sustainable, enduring, and equitable solutions to challenges in areas such as the environment, health care, education, housing, employment, and many others.

We welcome Fellows with many different approaches to community organizing. Our curriculum emphasizes building relationships and organizations and developing leaders. Fellows may work (professionally or as volunteers) in organizations that do this in a wide variety of ways. We do not think that any one method of organizing for justice is perfect or the right way. Rather, we think that exposure to a number of methods, and reflection on their effectiveness, is a good way to learn how to organize for justice. This work always needs to be refined and re-defined, especially as conditions and generations change.


How do I apply?

Please see this page for application details. The application is due November 6, 2020.


Will I be paid as part of the Fellowship? Does the Fellowship cost anything?

The Access to Power Fellowship is completely free, and we do not want money to be a barrier to anyone’s participation. We seek Fellows with diverse class backgrounds and life circumstances. If being paid for your time will make it more possible for you to fully participate, we have stipends available to make the Fellowship. You will be able to request a stipend during the application process. Stipends will be $1,100, which is a bit more than $15/hour per hour of Fellowship programming (not including time for your organizing). 

Stipends are intended for individual Fellows, not for the organizations with which you organize.


Who is eligible?

To be eligible, you must:

  • Identify as Jewish, or have a Jewish background and be interested in exploring this part of who you are
  • Identify as a person with a disability, a disabled person, Deaf, differently-abled, or another related term
  • Be between ages 20-39
  • Have the time and energy to participate in about two hours per week of learning sessions and engage in a substantial organizing project outside of session time
  • Have a context in which you will organize throughout the Fellowship. You can work (for money or as a volunteer) in an existing organization, or start something new.

Keep reading this page for more details about what all of these eligibility criteria mean!


What do you mean by “disability”?

We use the term “disability” very broadly. It includes, but is not limited to, experiences such as:

  • Physical disability or mobility impairment
  • Mental health, psychiatric, or psychosocial disability
  • Learning disability
  • Sensory disability, such as blind, low-vision, Deaf, hard of hearing, or DeafBlind
  • Chronic illness
  • Neurological or cognitive disability
  • Intellectual or developmental disability

We understand that people with these experiences have a wide variety of relationships with the term “disability” and the disability community. If you have one or more of the above experiences or other experiences that could be labelled “disability,” or you’re considered in that category legally, medically, or socially, you are eligible even if you don’t typically call yourself “disabled” or a “person with a disability.” (To learn more about why we use these different terms, see the next question.) If you would like to talk about whether this opportunity is right for you, given your unique experiences, please contact Allegra Heath-Stout, Fellowship Director, at aheathstout@joinforjustice.org or 857-869-2057.


Why does this website say both “Jews with disabilities” and “disabled Jews”?

In the disability community, as in most communities, people have a variety of perspectives on what language best describes us. Some people prefer identity-first language, such as “disabled person,” and others prefer people-first language, such as “person with a disability,” or other terms, such as “differently-abled.” Some people use other terms instead, including people who identify as Deaf but not disabled. There are a variety of reasons for these choices, and they are sometimes connected to what specific disability someone has and how and where someone has developed their disability identity. JOIN respects varied self-identifications. By using varied language, we hope to welcome a wide variety of people with disabilities/disabled people, as well as people who are exploring their identities and may not be sure what terms fit them best. In the Fellowship, we will learn together about different language choices and explore what language we want to use within the cohort community.

There are many resources available to learn more about identity-first language and people-first language. This essay explains reasons for using identity-first language (focusing on the autistic community), and includes a variety of links to additional resources. This page explains people-first language.


What is the time commitment? What is the schedule?

Most weeks, Fellowship sessions will take two hours. Some weeks may be a bit shorter but require some outside preparation time. Beyond the two hours each week, Fellows are expected to be responsive to emails and occasionally read an article or do other short preparation work.

Twice each month, the session will be a full-group training. These will take place on weekday evenings Eastern Time, or afternoons Pacific Time. The exact schedule will depend on which days are best for the most Fellows.

Each month, in addition to the full-group trainings, each Fellow will participate in one small-group coaching session and one individual coaching session. These will be scheduled whenever is best for the Fellows and coaches. 

The Fellowship will include two retreats, which will each include several days of 3-4 hours of programming. The first retreat will be during the week of January 4, 2021, and the second retreat will be in July 2021. Exact dates will be announced soon.

Fellows are expected to complete an evaluation survey after the Fellowship ends.


I’m a professional organizer. How would the Access to Power Fellowship interact with my job?

The Access to Power Fellowship is an outstanding professional development opportunity for early- and mid-career organizers. JOIN for Justice will provide sophisticated organizing training and high-level individualized coaching to help you sharpen your skills and achieve your goals. All of this comes at no cost to Fellows or employers. We encourage employers to consider Fellowship time as paid work hours.

The Fellowship Director, Allegra Heath-Stout, is available to answer questions from employers before or during the Fellowship. 


What are the requirements for my organizing work?

At JOIN for Justice, we believe that practice is an essential part of learning organizing. As an Access to Power Fellow, you will be expected to do substantial community organizing work outside of Fellowship sessions. By “organizing,” we mean building relationships, working in teams to build power, and taking action to address specific social justice goals. There are many different types of organizing, and we are open to a wide variety of approaches. 

There is no specific requirement for how many hours you spend organizing each week or month. We recognize that we all have different amounts of time and energy. Instead, we expect that you are engaging frequently and substantially, and doing enough to have opportunities to practice the skills we teach.

We are looking for Fellows who are organizing, not simply participating in social justice work. This means that during the course of the Fellowship, you are doing some of the following: bringing in new members, helping develop their leadership, creating systems and plans for other people’s involvement, working with others to set strategy, and evaluating your success.

We expect that most Fellows will continue organizing work they’re already doing during the Fellowship, and use the Fellowship as a way to deepen their effectiveness or take on greater leadership. We also welcome Fellows who want to get involved with something new.

Your organizing can be paid or unpaid. You might be organizing through your job, leading a team in a local organization, getting a new project off the ground, or something else. Your organizing can be on any issue, and doesn’t need to be in the Jewish or disability communities. Throughout the Fellowship you’ll hone skills you can put into practice right away, and learn from your successes and challenges in real time. 

Here are some examples of organizing that could be a good fit:

  • Chairing the inclusion committee at your synagogue, and working for specific changes within the community
  • Working full-time at a grassroots organization, leading a campaign for state policy change 
  • Deepening your involvement in a volunteer-led movement such as NeverAgainAction by taking on a role in post-election response work and developing other leaders
  • Starting a local disability justice organizing group

How will JOIN support disabled Jews with other marginalized identities, and create an anti-oppressive learning community?

JOIN embraces the racial, ethnic, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and other diversity of the Jewish people. We strive to create a Fellowship that focuses on the leadership of historically marginalized people, both through the trainers and other sources all Fellows learn from, and through centering the experiences of marginalized Fellows. 

Our curriculum will include extensive political education through the lens of disability justice. Disability justice is a political framework that understands, in the words of Patty Berne and Sins Invalid, “All bodies are confined by ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state, religion, and more, and we cannot separate them.” Exploring ableism, racism, gender justice, and more, and the ways they are connected, will support all of our Fellows with the skills to understand dynamics of privilege and oppression as they show up both within the group and in their organizing, and to build mutually accountable relationships across lines of difference. 

We also plan to incorporate race-based caucus time, for disabled Jews of color to connect with and support one another and formulate any responses to racial dynamics in the group, and for white disabled Jews to stay accountable to challenging patterns of white supremacy.


Do I need to have a college degree? Do I need professional experience?

No. You do not need to have any particular type of education to be eligible for this Fellowship or to be an excellent organizer. You also do not need professional experience to be a great fit.


What will I learn? 

Your learning in Access to Power will include community organizing skills, disability justice political education, and connections between disability and Judaism. For example, topics will include one-to-one relational meetings, campaign planning, power analysis, disability justice as a political framework, accessibility best practices, and leadership lessons from stories of disability in Jewish texts. 

All of this learning will be deeply personal: It’s not just about learning theory, it’s about reflecting on how you relate to the learning, what questions it brings up for you, and how you can apply it in your organizing and your life.

In addition to training sessions, the Fellowship will include regular coaching with experienced disabled organizers. You’ll meet each month with a consistent small group, to build deeper relationships and go deeper into addressing challenges and opportunities in your unique organizing work. And each month you’ll have an individual coaching session designed to support you in connecting all the learning to your own life and meeting your own goals.

We expect that Fellows will come in with a wide range of previous experience with organizing, disability justice, and Judaism. Trainings will be designed with that in mind, and the small group and individual coaching will be even more tailored to meet you where you’re at and help you get to the next level.


How “Jewish” do I have to be in the Fellowship?

The Fellowship is for people who identify as Jewish, or who have Jewish heritage and want to explore that part of who they are. We embrace the many different ways people come to, understand, and express Jewish identity. This Fellowship might be your first time seeking out Jewish community and education, or that might be your whole world. Maybe you’ve felt excluded from other Jewish spaces because you don’t know enough, or your access needs aren’t met, or people don’t respect your level of observance, or people are skeptical that someone who looks like you can be Jewish. Whatever being Jewish or having Jewish heritage means in your life, we value what you’re bringing.

We will actively build a pluralistic community, in which Jews with many different ways of being Jewish can build relationships and learn from one another. We want to bring together people who are interested in exploring or deepening their Jewish identity and their own understanding of the connections among Jewishness, justice work, and disability.


Who is leading this Fellowship?

Allegra Heath-Stout, JOIN’s Fellowship Director and Trainer, is overseeing the Access to Power Fellowship. Allegra has directed JOIN’s Jewish Organizing Fellowship since 2016, and spearheaded the creation of the Empower Fellowship track supporting Fellows with disabilities. Allegra, a white disabled Jewish cisgender queer woman, has over a decade of experience in the disability rights and justice movements. From 2012–2016, starting with her Jewish Organizing Fellowship year, she was an organizer at the Boston Center for Independent Living, building power with low-income people with disabilities to create change in areas such as healthcare, housing, and transportation. She got her start in organizing in college, where she founded Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights. 

Three partner organizations are working closely with JOIN for Justice to design and lead this Fellowship: Sins Invalid, National Council on Independent Living, and Detroit Disability Power. Click here to learn more about these partners.

During the Fellowship year, Fellows will learn from a variety of expert trainers and coaches, including disability rights and justice organizers, rabbis, and cultural workers. All or almost all trainers and coaches will be disabled.


Will this Fellowship be accessible to me?

We are committed to doing our best to meet all access needs. For example, we are prepared to provide CART and/or ASL interpreting, to provide materials in multiple formats, and to incorporate breaks in Fellowship sessions. Please contact us any time during the application process to discuss any accessibility needs you may have. We expect that making the Fellowship accessible will be an ongoing process throughout the year, as we all learn more about what we need in order to fully participate in this context and as all of our bodies and minds change over time.

Stipends are available to support your participation. For more details, see, “Will I be paid as part of the Fellowship? Does the Fellowship cost anything?,” above.


How is the Access to Power Fellowship similar to or different from the JOIN for Justice Jewish Organizing Fellowship and Empower Fellowship?

The Jewish Organizing Fellowship is a year-long program in Boston, through which Fellows work as professional organizers and engage in intensive weekly training. The Empower Fellowship is a track within that program, through which Fellows with disabilities participate in additional training. Due to the pandemic, we are not offering these programs in 2020-2021.

The Access to Power Fellowship, being offered for the first time in January 2021, is different in several ways, including:

  • It is all virtual, and Fellows don’t have to live in Boston.
  • Fellows may organize professionally or as volunteers.
  • It is shorter (seven months instead of one year) and a smaller time commitment.
  • All Fellows are people with disabilities, and the Fellowship will include a deeper, more integrated focus on disability justice.
  • Fellows can be ages 20-39, instead of just 21-30.

If you have already completed a different JOIN training program (such as the Jewish Organizing Fellowship or another JOIN training program, such as the Seminary Leadership Project or Don’t Kvetch, Organize!), or if you hope to do so in the future, you are welcome to apply to the Access to Power Fellowship. Trainings will be designed for participants with a variety of experience levels, and small group and individual coaching will support and challenge you to develop as an organizer, starting from your unique combination of skills, experience, and goals. There may be some overlap in content, but we believe this will deepen your learning, not detract from it. 

 

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