The JOIN fellowship is built around a year-long, paid organizing apprenticeship. JOIN fellows work for social change organizations that engage in a wide range of organizing models – interfaith or broad-based organizations, labor unions, neighborhood organizations, community development corporations, issue-based organizations, and others. These organizations address a wide range of social justice issues – housing, children’s rights, anti-discrimination, immigrant rights, health care, to name just a few but their work includes a common goal: to build power for people who are directly affected by the issues they address. JOIN fellows find placement organizations through the JOIN Matching process (see “Applying”), by finding organizing jobs on their own, and by coming to JOIN with their current organizing job.
All JOIN fellows are paid; however, the salary varies. Some people have or find their own organizing jobs, and if accepted, join the program. In these cases, their salary is completely determined by them. For organizations that want referrals of applicants and hope to hire a JOIN fellow, we require that they pay a minimum of $24,000 per year plus individual health insurance. However, the actual terms of employment will be negotiated solely between the fellow and the organization. Some fellows make more than $24,000, based on their experience and the organization’s financial ability.
A Day in the Life of an Organizer
The work of an organizer varies greatly from organization to organization, and from day to day. Different types of organizations approach organizing differently, and thus their organizers engage in the tasks of organizing in a range of ways. However, all organizers undertake some combination of the following activities in their work:
- Scheduling and conducting face-to-face meetings with potential leaders
- Debriefing and prepping with leaders for meetings during which group decisions are made
- Shadowing more experienced organizers to learn from them
- Researching political issues and decision makers
- Making turnout calls
- Planning public actions – both coordinating the logistics and working with the leaders who will make it happen.
Organizing work is active, interpersonal, and challenging – it involves learning the stories of others and telling your own story, agitating people to act on their values, and thinking strategically about building power and leadership at all times. Organizers frequently work some evenings and weekends, as their job is to engage with people who generally work during the day and are participating in a campaign as a volunteer. This also means that organizing is not a desk job – it involves going out to meet with people where they live and work.
Criteria for Partner Organizations
JOI looks for partner organizations that will provide excellent opportunities for the emerging organizers who participate in our fellowship to gain experience in community organizing. These criteria were developed to ensure that organizations that partner with JOI will provide a supportive and challenging working environment for their Fellow, and that, in turn, JOI’s training curriculum will be most relevant to their organizational needs.
Placement organizations must demonstrate that they meet at least three of the five following criteria:
- The supervisor of the JOIN Fellow has significant organizing experience and/or is currently an organizer and takes primary responsibility for the development of the Fellow as an organizer.
- There is a demonstrated organizational commitment to organizing as a method used for social change.
- The Fellow’s work has a significant component of in-person recruitment and training of leaders.
- The Fellow plays a key role in a project or campaign the organization is undertaking.
- The project or campaign the Fellow works on is something that builds towards a measurable social justice goal in the outside world.