Politicorps Launches Application for Summer 09

The fellowship program for emerging activists and campaigners based here in Portland, OR, is accepting nominations and applications for this summer.

PolitiCorps is looking for “hotshot young activists ready to run a campaign, polish up her public speaking skills, and manage a volunteer team.” 

Fellowships provide a total of 24 young activists a free 10 week training in high impact grassroots organizing skills and next generation leadership skills. Fellows are college juniors or seniors, or recent grads (up to age 24).

Two applications periods exist for Summer 2009.
Round 1: Applications due March 20th (12 Fellows)
Round 2: Rolling admissions until the program is full (12 Fellows)

To apply or to nominate someone else, find  a nomination form here.

This national Fellowship offers:

  • A cleared path toward a career in the public interest
  • Training in communications, community organizing, public policy analysis, networking, data management, and project management
  • Round-table conversations with nationally-known politics, wonks, strategists, and change-agents
  • Housing and cost of living stipends are offered on top of tuition for the 10 week training

Check out the Idealist podcast show featuring the folks at Politicorps.

Service Nation Day of Action Diary: Voter Registration

Can you feel the energy of service humming all around you? It might be the 2,720 + service projects happening across the 50 states today! Find one here!

I’m registering voters in my neighborhood in North Portland with a coalition of organizations including the Bus Project, NAACP, Urban League and AmeriCorps Alums Oregon.

Follow BeTheChangeInc on Twitter for more news as it happens at the Boston Day of Action event.

Register so you can vote on Nov. 4th!

Read Alan Khazei’s opinion piece in the Huffington Post on service.

Read the fabulous Kate Doyle’s Day of Action News Roundup.

What I learned from my volunteer experience: Registering voters is hard! I didn’t go door to door but stayed in the “downtown” areas of my neighborhood and that may have had an impact — I met a woman who registered far more people by going door-to-door. As with any state you have to get your registration in by a certain date, too — see the list of deadlines around the country.

Updating your registration after you move is crucial. In Oregon, for example, everyone votes by mail. (Your ballot won’t get to you if your address isn’t updated.)

Throughout the United States, under-represented on election day are people who are more mobile — like young people and people who rent apartments. The state of Ohio sparked controversy this summer when the media circulated a story that people who had lost their homes because of foreclosure would be ineligible to vote this fall due to change of address.

The Pew Center on the States puts it this way: “Participation data reveal clear patterns about who is most likely to vote and who isn’t. If you are old, white, educated and strongly rooted in your community, you are more likely to vote. If you are young, non-white, less educated and move frequently, you are less likely to vote.”

Another obstacle to 100 percent voter turnout can be requiring identification at the polling station, which apparently disenfranchise specific populations more than others.

Some tips I learned for registering voters include:

  • Familiarize yourself with the registration form for your state
  • Find out the registration deadline for your state
  • Know whether you can register others to vote in your state, and the deadline for turning in the registration forms you gather
  • Know who is eligible to vote in your state (what age?; also what about formerly incarcerated people?)
  • Pick a place with lots of foot traffic (you may have to ask permission)
  • Have a few clip boards and pens on hand
  • Approach groups (the voters among them can help pressure the nonvoters)
  • Stay nonpartisan
  • Ask everyone you see (don’t presume to know who is already registered by they way they dress, or by age), be friendly
  • Start by saying something like I’m registering voters today so they know you don’t need signatures on a petition

Here are some other tips for registering others to vote.

Join The League of Women Voters’ Registration Challenge. (You don’t have to be a woman.)

Terms of political service

Looking to get more directly involved in the democratic process? Is the election year whetting your appetite for campaign action? Many service programs disallow political involvement due to financial support from the government. But these programs exist that embrace politics:


Based in Portland, OR, and a project of the Bus Project, PolitiCorps is a “boot camp” for organizers. Fellows spend the summer registering voters, issuing policy white papers, and learning to run campaigns. Alumni go on to run political and fundraising campaigns, serve nonprofits, earn graduate degrees and more.

Green Corps’ Field School

A year-long, hands-on experience, Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing teaches the art of building grassroots, activist support as well as the science of influencing policy. Based in Boston, the Corps also supports its members’s career transitions.

Campaign Corps

Emily’s List offers this opportunity for college grads to get involved with Democratic Party campaigns: one week of Campaign School and then working the final three months on a Democratic campaign.


On the Republican front, learn more about ForecastRed’s campaign school that prepares participants for the campaign season. Email events@forecastred.org.