Community College: Training Ground for New Community Organizers
March 29, 2013 - 9:12 am
There is no doubt that the youth of America are being recruited at breakneck speed by the progressives, both at the university level as well as elementary and high school. Many efforts are underway to expand their reach to preschool, as they attempt to start those programs at earlier and earlier ages. But what about community colleges? Surely, you don’t think they would leave any stone unturned.
Yes, they are actively working to train community college students to be “community organizers” and activists. And what a ripe audience! With tuitions rising and a large population of lower income and minority students, it is the perfect training ground.
One such effort is underway by the Rappaport Family Foundation, established by Andrew and Deborah Rappaport, one of the biggest contributors to progressive politics and financial supporters of Soros’ Center for American Progress. Their program in partnership with the New Organizing Institute, is called “The Milllennial Project.” Their catch phrase on site is “because leadership and organizing compliment ever major.” Offered is a course in organizing, so they can be sure community college students are well versed in the art of “change.”
A current publication on their site reviews the results of this project so far. Introductory pages suggest that “community college is where the struggle is.” Yet another struggle?
Community college students are ideal recruits in their eyes. From the same publication, page 5:
Since then, RFF has invested large amounts of time, energy, and more than $5 million in civic engagement initiatives led by young people, including those on university campuses, and among non-college youth. Through this work, we saw many strong and active training and advocacy organizations on 4-year university campuses. But when we looked to community college campuses – where the other half of our nation’s college students enroll – the picture looked very different. As funders of youth civic engagement, we realized that we were neglecting a critical segment of the youth population.
Do you think they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts? Do they just want to help these young adults learn how to be leaders? Or might they have more in mind? We get that answer on page 14 of the report:
An investment in community college students is an investment in…the civic and political potential of the millennial generation. As we’ve witnessed, young people are a key constituency whose voter participation rates can swing elections. We’ve also seen the success of civic engagement programs at 4-year campuses and universities with campaigns focused on the Dream Act and student cost increases, as well as in the strong student voice in the national Occupy Wall Street Movement. We need to ignite more of the same activism on 2-year campuses.
We looked for programs that would prepare community college students to be a generation of committed, skilled, life-long, progressive activists.
They have planned this program using the very best in the business. Their pilot program was designed by Marshall Ganz:
…a senior lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He worked on the staff of the United Farm Workers for sixteen years before becoming a trainer and organizer for political campaigns, unions and nonprofit groups. He is credited with devising the successful grassroots organizing model and training for Barack Obama’s winning 2008 presidential campaign.
Ganz has done it all. From the early days with Cesar Chavez to campaigns for Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Brown to SEIU to the Screen Actors Guild to the current Organizing for America, he’s worked with them all.
You can read their entire publication to learn about the many activist organizations their initial California effort has already spawned, although most of us would never realize all of these different student initiatives were sparked by the same program.
One thing they emphasize is the importance of getting community college faculty and administration on board, but that is likely an easy task.
Their concluding statements, addressed to potential funders of this continuing effort, make it clear what the potential for this program can be:
Throughout our Initiative, we have been struck by just how below-the-radar and under-resourced community college student organizing, advocacy, and civic engagement has been until now. In the words of Campaign for College Opportunity, we see the potential for a “community college student leadership legacy for the State of California.” We do believe that the seeds of that movement are currently taking root; that the day is not far off when community college campuses will be fertile training grounds for the Millennial generation’s most effective civic leaders, and serve as the spawning grounds for the most timely campaigns for change. We encourage you as a funder and philanthropist to consider incorporating community college into your own thinking and how incorporating their talents, experience and wisdom can help you achieve your own philanthropic goals more quickly.
Unless we want to see their “philanthropic goals” take over this country, it might be wise for us to start paying close attention to the community college indoctrination movement already well underway.