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Organizing Anti-Oppression Trainings

This is a guide to help folks and Cooperatives organize anti-oppression trainings in their communities.

Choosing a Topic and Evaluating Group Needs

Before you work with a trainer, you’ll want to clearly outline the goals of your training. Get input from as many members of your group as possible—they will be more invested in the training if they’re involved in the planning process, and your trainer will be better prepared.

The following questions are a guideline for preparing to work with a trainer; add your own and adjust to your needs.

1. What is the topic of the training? Try to narrow your focus as much as possible (think: “Disability Justice in Co-ops” rather than a general “Anti-Oppression” training). Sometimes it can be helpful to have your group generate a list of questions that they would like the training to answer.

2. Where are members at with this topic? Have they received trainings in the past? Are some well-versed in the topic and others at an introductory level (This can be ok! It is good for the trainer to know ahead of time).

3. What are your group’s highest hopes for the workshop? Be specific. Do you want the group to come out of the training with an action plan? A shared analysis? A higher level of trust among members?

Working with a Trainer

Think about what is appropriate to ask of a trainer. For example, if you’re thinking of approaching a person of color to do a racial justice training with a mostly white group, it would probably be a good idea to start looking for a white co-facilitator who can discuss white supremacy and white-allyship.

Draw up a contract with the trainer. A contract is a formal agreement between the host and the trainer that holds both parties accountable to an agreed upon set of requirements. See our sample contract at the end of this packet.

Ask your trainer about their needs, including dietary needs, accommodations (if the training is multiple days), supplies for their workshop, etc. Inform them ahead of time about what the workshop space is like: Will you be able to move furniture around? Is there outdoor space available? Will parking be an issue? Is it a relatively quiet/private space?

Ask the trainer to send a proposed agenda for the workshop at least 10 days before the training. Meet with them in person, if possible, and give them feedback promptly. Find out if they plan on distributing handouts, and offer to give feedback on those as well. The better prepared they are, the better the training will be.

Create a workshop evaluation. Ask the trainer to send questions they would like to include.

Budget

Budgeting Guidelines for hosting one- or two-day trainings

Expenses

  • Trainer honorarium: $75-100/hr
  • Food: $10/day (food donations encouraged)
  • Supplies: $30
  • Printing & Promotion: $30
  • Meeting Space: find free space
  • Miscellaneous: $50

Income

Your co-op can charge participants to cover some costs, but sliding scale fees are highly recommended. It is often helpful to structure a sliding scale with tiers based on income-levels and other class factors (example: a $0-$100 sliding-scale fee can be broken into tiers of $0 - $30 - $70 - $100).

Budgeting guidelines for hosting three-day trainings

The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) can coordinate a three-day training for up to 30 participants for $3000 (negotiable). This fee includes all training, curriculum, information packets, and follow-up. The host co-op will be responsible for the promotion and logistics. NASCO staff can provide support for coordinating a training of any length and encourages regional cooperation amongst NASCO members. Please see their website for more information.

Please refer to the extensive grassroots fundraising section in the appendix.

Organizing Logistics

Space

With a little investigating, you can probably find a space for free or at a discount rate. Try campus classrooms and meeting rooms, community centers, churches, libraries etc. Your co-op common space might also work, but sometimes meeting away from your community’s space can be helpful for a group.


Criteria for space should include:

  • Physically accessible
  • Easy to get to
  • Access to other space (smaller rooms, yard) for break-out groups
  • Furniture that can be arranged to seat people in a circle and moved out of the way for activities
  • Ample wall space for sticking up notes or butcher paper

Access to a kitchen (hot water for tea, snacks, meals), and allows you to bring your own food

  • Quiet location, good acoustics, good lighting
  • Allows you to control the room temperature
  • Allows you to have an all-gender restroom (physically accessible “unisex” or single-stall bathroom also work well)

Suggested spaces for regional trainings:

  • Common Ground Center
  • Starksboro, Vermont
  • A cooperatively-run non-profit arts, education, outdoor recreation and retreat center

cgcvt.org/

  • Circle Pines Center
  • Delton, Michigan
  • A cooperatively-run non-profit camp and retreat center

circlepinescenter.org

Food

Just like space, with a little work, you can find a host of low-cost or free food options. Try getting local businesses to donate or give you a discount of coffee, tea, snacks, day-old bakery etc. Food co-ops often will give groups a donation or gift certificate. NASCO is happy to provide its non-profit status to facilitate food donations.

Free housing (only for trainings longer than one day)

If you have out-of-town guests, try to arrange space in a local co-op or house for them to stay for free. Make sure to check if they have any accessibility needs and be clear with any expectations from the hosting co-op. Local churches and hostels are good low-cost or free options if you need to house a large number of people.

Registration

Try to keep registration simple. It’s important to try to collect registration fees or an initial deposit up front—people often feel more committed to attending something if they have already paid, and you will be able to guarantee your income before the training. You will want to collect contact info, meal preferences, housing needs, childcare needs, and accessibility needs. Make sure to leave space for them to add any other needs and follow-up with them promptly.

Sometimes it is useful to collect further information such as people’s intentions for attending the training, experience and knowledge of anti-oppression topics, and goals for the training. This can be done on the registration form or as a registration follow-up.

For smaller trainings, anything from a simple paper form to an email suffices. For larger trainings, you may want to use a web-based form like google forms. Make sure to set a registration deadline at least two weeks before the training!

Accessibility

Some steps to take to make anti-oppression trainings accessible:

  • Offering sliding scale registration fees (in which no one is turned away if they cannot pay)
  • Making affordable or free childcare available
  • Taking steps to house participants in co-ops where they will feel safe and comfortable
  • Assuring that the building, including all restrooms, is wheelchair accessible
  • Providing ingredient lists for all meals
  • Including vegan, vegetarian and meat options
  • Providing a gender neutral bathroom*Requesting that the trainer(s) speaks loudly and clearly, respecting the needs of those who have impaired hearing
  • Providing a quiet room where participants can take a break and rest
  • Providing safer spaces for people of similar identities to caucus

Supplies

Communicate with the trainer about any supplies they are bringing or need. It’s good to have butcher paper/big sheets of paper, tape, markers, post-it notes, pens/pencils, and scratch paper.

Take-home resources

At the end of a training, it is often helpful to provide handouts for further education and tools. Handouts may include descriptions of activities so people can facilitate conversations in their co-ops, materials for further education on specific topics, and resource lists.

NASCO’s Shared Resource Library has packets of anti-oppression training materials and handouts. You can access it at htttp://nasco.coop/resources (username: guest, password: nasco).

Evaluation

Participant evaluations are extremely useful for the trainer(s) and organizer(s) in offering constructive feedback in both areas that are strong and less strong. Make sure to leave enough time at the end of the training for evaluations. Potential questions to include on an evaluation: 1. What went well? Do you have a favorite activity or part of the training? 2. What could have been better? How would you approach or implement it differently? 3. What changes or comments do you have of the following: food, space, length of training, cost, communication before the training with organizers, the trainer etc. 4. How did you find out about this training? 5. What topics would you be interested in for additional training? 6. What are three things you will take from this training?

In addition to participant evaluations, it’s also important to debrief with the trainer about how things went for them, and get their opinion on some next steps for the group or key observations.

Next Steps

Although the end of weeks to months of organizing, the day of the training is actually the beginning of another process. In other words, “the work is not the workshop.” After the training, it is crucial for folks who attended the training to work together and with their larger communities to put the training into action steps.

Creating an action plan within a few weeks of the training is a necessary, next step. You might organize a report-back of the training in your co-op and create space for setting long-term and short-term goals. After setting goals, your community can outline specific action steps. The following set of questions is a useful process for creating action steps: 1. Identify action steps required to meet your goals 2. Identify resources needed (money, people, networks, space, information/knowledge, skills, materials, etc.); how can you get them? 3. Establish timeline (set dates and deadlines for action steps) 4. Identify risks and obstacles, and how to overcome them 5. What resources and allies do you already have? Where can you find more? 6. How do you evaluate or measure your action steps? 7. How often will we check-in our our plan? 8. How do we hold ourselves accountable?

Examples of action steps:

  • Post handouts in the bathroom
  • Review bylaws and standing rules to look for problematic parts and try to change them
  • Give a thorough report-back to a general gathering of co-op members (e.g. annual general meeting)
  • Facilitate a house discussion of cultural appropriation and find examples in common spaces
  • Join Neighborhood Association (housing co-op specific).
  • Look into what forms of rent payment are accepted—is Section 8 or rental assistance accepted (housing co-op specific)?

When you are setting goals and creating action steps, it is critical that a broad range of people are supportive and have “buy in,” and are a part of the process. Without broad participation, it is easy for a few people to tackle the community’s work and get burned out. It is also important to be realistic in your goals and action steps by accounting for the community’s capacity and issues that affect capacity (e.g. turnover, students being busy toward the end of the semester, labor holidays etc.). Lastly, transforming communities into anti-oppressive communities is challenging and a slow and dynamic process. It’s important to recognize that sometimes the means (the process) is more important than the ends (meeting your goals), and small steps are huge accomplishments.

NASCO

NASCO staff are available (free of charge!) to answer questions, suggest trainers (in some cases, it may be appropriate to contract with NASCO staff for trainings), and provide advice as you organize your training. If your co-op is interested in a larger-scale training retreat of three days or more, your co-op can contract with NASCO to coordinate logistics, curriculum, and training. The rate is negotiable depending on number of participants, length of training, available resources, and division of responsibilities. NASCO staff have successfully hosted several “Action Camp” style trainings as well as conferences covering a wide range of topics, and are happy to customize trainings to meet your group’s needs.

Appendices

Appendix A: Sample Contract

Please see this uploaded file, which is a sample contract between a co-op and a trainer, curriculum developer, etc.

Appendix B: Grassroots Fundraising

Organizing a training, although transformative and rewarding, is significantly costly from providing trainers with honorarium to copying costs to feeding participants. If your co-op or organization does not have the funds budgeted to cover these costs, you are presented with an amazing opportunity to directly learn and practice a useful lifelong skill—grassroots fundraising!

Fundraising Facts:

  • Few people give a donation of money unless they are asked.
  • Nearly everyone feels good when they give money.
  • In recent years, individuals have donated more than $166,000,000,000 each year to charitable causes in the USA.
  • The bulk of this money comes from households with earnings less than $60,000 a year.
  • When you ask people you know for a contribution to a charitable cause that you care about, at least half of them will say “yes” to your request and make a contribution.

Before diving into fundraising, it’s important to address anxieties and dynamics around money, power, and oppression that often undermine our fundraising efforts. In our culture, money is associated with power. We often use money to separate, discriminate, blame, and destroy. Because of past money-related bad experiences, many of us are insecure about money. We often play “One-up - One-down” in which someone who is “one-up” has power over someone who is “one-down.” The “one-up” person might be the potential donor, and is often associated with being superior, leader, agent of oppression. The “one-down” person might be the “asker,” and is often characterized as inferior, follower, and target of oppression.

However, we can empower ourselves as “askers” when change our fundraising framework from potential donors having “power over” to an ally model in which potential donors are allies. By asking someone to join you in your work with a donation, you are inviting them to be your partner. With this new model and acknowledging the role of money, we can put our anxieties aside because raising funds is more important than our own worries.

Creating a Fundraising Plan

If you have a core group working on fundraising for your training, you will want to collaboratively create a fundraising plan. First, you will need to set a fundraising goal for covering your training costs by a certain date. The plan must be written (with dates, deadlines, and concrete tasks for individuals), and agreed to by everyone (the core group, other members of the organization). Your plan might include brainstorming potential donors to “ask” (individuals, organizations, and businesses), throwing a benefit, or proposing a $5 monthly, voluntary “chip.” Make sure that the information is well organized for tracking tasks and donations, and your group checks-in frequently.

Asking Individuals for Donations

A great way for you to raise funds to host a training is by calling upon your community to support you. This works best when they know that you're going to help support your community.

Identify an area(s) for training (anti-racism, class, restorative justice approaches to sexual assault etc.) and point out ways that your co-op will benefit from you having specific training in this area. Each of us knows at least ten people who seem to have similar values as our own about the issues our group is working on, and will make a donation to help out, when they can. These are the ten people to “ask,” and are your allies in making the training possible. Where can you find these ten people in your community?

Here are some places to start:

  • Where do you spend your money?

Examples: co-op, community bank or credit union, food co-op, grocery store, video store, local businesses etc.

  • Where do you spend your time?

Examples: workplace, community center, organizations where you volunteer, campus organizations etc.

  • Who respects you? Who will listed to what you have to say?

Examples: family, friends, co-workers, people you have helped, ally organizations, people who are too busy to be involved etc.

  • Whom do you respect? Who do you look to for leadership?

Examples: People you have helped, co-workers, ally organizations, leaders in your community, mentors etc.

  • Who benefits when your organization is successful after its mission?

Examples: ally organizations, campus community, your neighborhood, low-income folks in your community etc.

Keep in mind:

  • People give to people, not causes.
  • People give because they want to. Your job is to ask. Their job is to decide.
  • People give because they need to be making the world better.
  • People give out of their own self-interest.
  • People give to opportunities, not needs.
  • All successful fundraising is because of strong relationships!

For steps on making a good “ask,” check out You Can Do It! (info below). Practice asking![1]

Other Creative Avenues for Grassroots Fundraising

Here are a few other ways to raise travel and registration funds locally: 1. Ask your co-op or organization directly for funds. Maybe your house can contribute $25. Maybe your organization can contribute $50. Maybe they can contribute $500! You never know until you ask. Even if it's only $5, it helps move you forward.

2. Sell fair trade chocolate, coffee, and tea! Equal Exchange has a fundraising program called, "Make Money. Make a Difference” (equalexchange.coop/fundraiser).

3. Ask your housemates individually to help you out. For example, if you live in a place that collects money monthly, ask each person if they'd be willing to pay an extra $5 this month for the training. Make sure it's voluntary. You'd be surprised how many people will be willing to chip in $5.

4. Hold a benefit show or party at your house. Line up some local bands that are willing to play for free, or just put together a good mix cd. Charge $3 at the door. Make sure people know it's a benefit, and make sure they know what it's for. Here are some ways to increase your money intake at your party:

  • Buy some cheap beer and sell it for a bit more than you paid for it.
  • Bake cookies, or get some fruit and sell them for a small cost.
  • Hold a silent auction.
  • Have a fundraising goal for the night. Every $25, get someone to perform an amazing feat, or ridiculous stunt. (ie: At $50, Chris will eat a bug. At $75, Nadine will shave off her eyebrows. At $100, Jesse will juggle fire.) You get the idea.

5. Instead of a party, try other “fun” raising ideas, like hosting a spelling bee, talent show, burlesque show, show-and-tell brunch etc.

Another commitment you can make that will increase your community's willingness to support you is giving a report-back for the broader community afterwards. Commit to organizing a night where members of your community can come listen to you present some of the most useful things you picked up, learned, or took away from the weekend. Not only will they be more willing to support you if you offer a report back, but it will give your whole community an opportunity to benefit from your attendance. You can also create and distribute educational materials (‘zine, copies of the materials from the training, blog post) as an alternative to a report-back.

When raising money, remember what's important: voluntary participation in fundraisers, accurate knowledge of where the money is going, and fun!

Source You Can Do It!: A Volunteer’s Guide to Raising Money for Your Group in Words and Pictures, written & illustrated by Vicki Quatmann.

More Ideas

The Allied Media Conference also offers a host of creative grassroots fundraising strategies. Check them out: http://alliedmedia.org/participate/fundraising_strategies

References

This page originally adapted with permission from the North American Students of Cooperation.
  1. You Can Do It!: A Volunteer’s Guide to Raising Money for Your Group in Words and Pictures, written & illustrated by Vicki Quatmann.