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Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird: Why we launched the 270///360 Training Program

270 Strategies | July 25, 2014

A few of our friends in the progressive community have raised some important questions about the international training program our team is hosting this September, "270///360: Organize the World, Change the World." In particular, we have been asked about the cost of the program, the accessibility of the program, and whether we were attempting to help supply our clients with volunteers. We want to offer some clarity on the program that we hope will answer these questions.

Here's why we started the program. Every member of the 270 Strategies team -- whether they worked alongside us in the Obama organization or for progressive organizations across the country -- believes deeply in the power of people-centered, data-driven, and digitally-sophisticated campaigns. In fact, on the 2012 campaign, we often said that grassroots organizing -- coupled with smart use of data analytics, digital, and communications tools -- can change the world. That's what we set out to do with 270///360: we want to share what we know with important progressive causes around the world.

We're proud of the work we've accomplished over the years honing the way we reach and empower people to bring about meaningful change in their communities -- and we want to continue to have an impact here and around the globe. The 270///360 program allows us to bring advocates together in one room and help them apply the lessons they learn in a practical way.

Here are the facts about 270///360:

  • This is not just an organizing training. Some people have raised questions about 270///360 based on the idea that the cost of our program is out of line with other organizing trainings. Many organizations offer trainings focused exclusively on organizing. But 270///360 is not one of them. 270///360 offers a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach that we apply to helping campaigns reach their goals. That approach absolutely includes training in grassroots organizing -- but it also includes training in data analytics, digital strategies, and communications.
  • 270///360 meets an unmet need. Many of our friends in the progressive nonprofit world offer fantastic trainings on grassroots organizing and best practices -- and we think people should go to them. In fact, many of the trainings that have been mentioned as alternatives to this program were supported and developed in part by members of our team. And we continue to contribute our time and expertise to many of them today. But our experience tells us there is a need for this kind of a program -- focused on an international audience and integrating the core areas of expertise the 270 Strategies team has continued to develop and innovate -- and we're excited to fill this niche.
  • There is real demand for this kind of a program. In the past year, we've had the honor of working with incredible, progressive organizations from all around the world that are doing really amazing work in tough political and social environments across four continents. The one consistent request we've received is to find a way to make the lessons from 2008 and 2012 tangible and applicable given the unique circumstances of international organizations. The immersion and real-world application of this training intensive makes the lessons real -- and addresses a need that organizations around the world have identified. All 270///360 participants will spend a week in campaign headquarters observing strategy at work before going out to the field where they will receive ongoing mentorship from a coach with whom they are matched at the beginning of their immersion. We simply cannot replicate that kind of experience without bringing people together for this kind of effort.
  • This is a six-week comprehensive experience and guided training -- not a campaign volunteer opportunity.  Some people have rightly asked if it's appropriate to have people "pay to volunteer" on a campaign. We want to be clear about what the 270///360 program is: it offers training on organizing, data analytics, digital, and communications strategy and tactics coupled with immersion on a campaign. This immersion phase of 270///360 provides trainees the opportunity to observe multiple aspects of campaigns at various levels, and is an unprecedented opportunity to learn by doing. After the immersion, participants will return to Chicago to exchange lessons learned before returning home to innovate further using what they observed and applied in the field.
  • We don't plan to make a profit. It costs money to put on these trainings -- and we expect to cover our costs, but we are not expecting or planning to profit. We are already in talks with organizations to support people with either full or partial scholarships because that is how important we think it is to reach as many organizers as we can. Our focus is on international advocates, but organizers residing in the United States are welcome to join us as well.


Here's the bottom line. This is about reaching progressives around the globe with the 270 Strategies way of building campaigns -- that means integrating people-focused grassroots organizing with a digital savvy, data-driven approach, paired with effective, persuasive communications. Our hope for the program we've put together is to equip grassroots advocates with the key skills and best practices we've refined over the years so they can be more effective on their own campaigns back home.

Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird are Founding Partners at 270 Strategies.

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