The Justice Initiative

Sharpening Our Craft

The Justice Initiative cultivates spaces for change-makers to learn together, sharpen our crafts, deepen our rigor and discipline, practice through hands-on field engagement, and strategize for a new shared future. The initiative’s curated gatherings, trainings, seminars, practicums, and fellowships provide high-quality and high-impact spaces for deep reflection, honest and clear-eyed evaluation, and shared learning to inform action.

The Justice Initiative brings together expertise-based groups for deepened learning, with offerings crafted for a range of experience levels and disciplines, including organizers, social justice leaders, movement lawyers, and seasoned movement leaders. While peer-and practice-based learning and observation are common in many professions, this is not the norm for the social justice sector. New staff are thrown into work with little support. Movement-wide, organizers operate in silos, cut off from peers in other movements and organizations. The Justice Initiative will bridge this divide.

Action, not simply study, is central to the Initiative.  Participants take learning deeper through practice—participatory research, internships and practicums, and other field engagement opportunities to test ideas, sharpen understanding, and translate insights into action embedded in social change organizations across the country.  

The Initiative lifts change-makers out of the immediacy and urgency of the now, to understand more deeply the roots of our current challenges, explore possible futures, and strategize together. By building cohorts across organizations, movements, and sectors, the Initiative sparks the alchemy of new perspectives and insights often missed in traditional “planning” spaces. So too, it builds the discipline and practice of lengthening our time horizon and developing sharper strategic insights and focus—recognizing this moment is the fruition of 50+ years by the Right of careful planning, coordination, funding, and institution building.  

Importantly, the Initiative will cultivate a space of experimentation, trust, and authenticity to support honest evaluation of our work, individually, organizationally, and as an ecosystem: what is working or not, where we are undermining ourselves, the gaps in practices, or the tendency to generate activity rather than real impact. This type of direct and honest reflection is far too rare, within organizations much less across movements. Building a new muscle of true assessment and shared learning will be a core priority of the Initiative.

To support the deep work of change—of liberating our imagination, building the muscle of new practices, and fostering deep relationships of trust—each Initiative offers programming anchored in our approaches to generate connection and change:

  • Fellowships/Residencies: cultivating respite from daily work for reflection and study, creating space and time for deep engagement, connection, and innovation.
  • Cohorts/Learning Communities: building shared experiences over time for reflection and introspection, learning, exploration, practice, and relationship-building that spark new insights and seed networked, life-long relationships that anchor our ecosystem across the country.
  • Experiments/Innovation Labs: setting the stage for radical re-imagination, inviting thinkers and doers across disciplines and issue areas to bring their best, biggest, boldest ideas and, over the course of their time together, cook up new solutions for long-standing challenges.
  • Gatherings/Retreats: creating shared spaces that support stepping out of daily routines, out of old habits, and away from a purely institutional viewpoint to explore together, learn across disciplines and ecosystem roles, engage with thinkers and experts outside our social justice realm, and spark new insights and strategies for change.

Program Highlights: In 2021, the Summer Justice Corps created multiple cohorts of stipended practitioners for intensive clinics. We are planning a Winter 2022 Justice Corps focused on new organizers. Future programming will expand these cohorts, add similar programming year-round, and offer a wide range of virtual training opportunities. Additionally, in 2022 we will organize at least ten trainings on the fundamentals of effective community organizing. Overall, we anticipate that hundreds of participants will receive rigorous, sustained training and field placement opportunities through the Justice Initiative each year.

Applications Now Open: Summer Academy on Law, Organizing, and Power Building

We invite rising second- and third-year law students from New York City law schools to apply to The Action Lab (TAL)the Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project and the Initiative for Community Power’s first ever Summer Academy on Law, Organizing, and Power Building.

Amid the escalating and interlocking crises that define our current moment, the work of progressive lawyers must be imaginative, far-reaching, and grounded in a critique of the political, economic, and legal structures that undergird and reproduce neoliberal capitalism. To meet the urgency of the moment we must move beyond a focus on short-term gains and defensive struggles, to an engagement with transformative politics.

In this spirit, the Summer Academy will introduce a small cohort of law students to critical law and political economy and organizing frameworks, with a focus on housing justice and decarceration.

Applications are due June 28, 2022