Academy Initiative

Strengthening Democratic Engagement to Address Community Unrest

Each program’s goals are three-fold:
  1. Strengthen conflict resolution-related planning and capacity building.
  2. Support and strengthen the development of a local ‘core’ leadership convener group for four communities.
  3. Provide planning opportunities for each core leadership group.
Scheduled throughout the summer of 2021, the applicaton window is now open for THREE virtual Academy Programs developed by the Divided Community Project:
    • A Community-Focused Academy

On June 13 to 15, DCP will host core leadership groups from communities who seek to identify and address divisions tearing at the fabric of their communities.

This is the third community-focused Academy.  Prior participating communities include Bloomington (IN), Charlotte (NC), Charltottesville (VA), Indianapolis (IN), Kenyon College, Memphis (TN), Midwest City (OK), and Portland (OR).

        • A State-Focused Academy

Scheduled for August 8 to 10, DCP will host core leadership groups from state attorney general offices and civil rights agencies for three-day virtual seminars to learn about techniques and develop approaches to dealing with polarized situations at both the community and state level.  

This is DCP’s inaugural Academy program focused on AG offices and civil rights agencies.

            • A Campus-Focused Academy

Tentatively scheduled for July 11-13, DCP will host core leadership groups from University campuses who seek to identify and address divisions tearing at the fabric of their communities.

This is DCP’s second Campus Academy program.  Prior participating campuses include Case Western Reserve University, Menlo College, The Ohio State University, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of Oklahoma.

The application window will open soon!

The project invites “core leadership groups” of approximately EIGHT individuals to apply.  The goal is to form a leadership team that includes both those who would be at the table when decisions are made when a divisive incident or conflict arises  and those who would implement planning to improve the resilience and readiness.  Ideally, a core leadership group should include the following:

        • For Communities: two representatives from municipal infrastructure (ideally a high-ranking police official and a city manager or the equivalent), two representatives from the local non-profit community, two community advocates, a member of a religious organization, and a representative from an educational institution.
        • For Campuses two representatives from the presidents  or provosts office, a representative from diversity and inclusion leadership (may overlap with the first category), a campus police representative, a faculty member, a communications expert, a student affairs staff member, and a student leader. 
        • For Statewide Agencies: diverse leadership groups that can accomplish the goals articulated above.

What Participants are Saying...

When you know there are others out there fighting for the same causes and goals, it gives you STRENGTH beyond what you could ever hope for. I have been empowered and feel even more hopeful.

Garland Pruitt
Garland Pruitt President, NAACP Oklahoma City Branch

I realized there are amazing people with different professional backgrounds across the nation working to evolve policing culture and approach. I learned new approaches to conflict resolution from their experiences with similar systemic struggles.

Sara Bana
Sara Bana Executive Director of Civic Services Community Advocacy

I’ve already used much that was learned from this experience to build effective relationships with influencers in the community to inform and improve policy.

Shaun Ward
Shaun Ward Professional Development, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

As long as you have the best of intentions and include people most impacted by challenges, there are many ways that communities can work together to solve the issues that keep them stratified due to systemic racism and institutionalized oppression.

Ted Mason
Ted Mason Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Kenyon College
The Application Timeline is as follows:

  1. Applications Due Friday March 19, 2021
  2. In March may work with Academy Applicants to further hone and identify applicant commitment and interest in the program
  3. Academy Applicants will be notified regarding their participation on or before Wednesday March 31, 2021
  4. April 15 to summer 2021
    1. Core leaders from each participating campus will meet virtually with an Academy facilitator to discuss questions developed by the Hosts and intended to help focus on key issues to be addressed at the Academy
    2. These meetings will allow Academy Hosts to  hone Academy cirriculum to meet campus core leadership group needs.
    3. ACADEMY DATES.  All participants are expected to participate for the duration of each Academy program.  We anticipat hosting Academy sessions on Zoom or a similar platform for approximately six hours on three consecutive days.
    4. Academy Follow-up, Academy hosts will follow-up with Academy core leaders to support implementation processes developed during the Academy initiative.

Application criteria will be described in detail shortly, and will include the following components.

Each Academy’s criteria are specific.  Specific information is available as each part of the following applications:

Community
Campus
Statewide

1. Diversity

Diversity is fundamental to the program.  The hosts anticipate selecting participant communities that collectively reflect diversity of geography, size, and community demographics.  The hosts urge core leadership groups to consider how they reflect the diversity of their own community.

2. Commitment

Applicants should identify the seven to ten core leaders who are committed to attending the Academy on the dates identified above.  When identifying leaders for the core leadership team, include people who have the power to encourage, initiate, and/or implement changes in policy or practice.  The core leadership group should include people who are directly affected by the issue(s) causing tension or division.  You may also want to consider including people who can help sustain the work going forward.

Applicants should tentatively articulate how the core leadership group will begin convening broad-based community planning efforts to identify and address issues that polarize the community and whether and how the core leadership group will meet prior to the Academy.

Applicants should commit to working with the Divided Community Project in the following ways: 1) Preparing for the Academy; 2) Participating in the complete Academy; and 3) following the Academy in order to implement initiatives aimed at addressing community polarization.

3. Need

Applicants should articulate their perception of issues polarizing their home community as well as their perception of the next issues that may be facing their home community.  These may include long-standing issues that have created tension for years, as well as tension that has erupted into volatile conflict more recently

Commonly Asked Questions

Will this take place in person?

Unfortunately, NO.  This event will take place entirely on Zoom or a similar platform.  However, DCP hosted a virtualy academy in August 2021 and recieved overwhelmingly positive reviews.  We hope to build on this success. 

How does my community apply?

Click here to submit your application!

Who participated in prior Academies?

Core leadership groups from the following communities:

    • Bloomington, Indiana
    • Case Western Reserve University
        • Charlotte, North Carolina
        • Charlottesville, Virginia
        • Indianapolis, Indiana
        • Kenyon College
        • Memphis, Tennesse
        • Menlo College
        • Midwest City, Oklahoma
        • The Ohio State University
        • Portland / Oregon
        • University of Hawaii at Manoa
        • University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • University of Oklahoma

What is the cost?

Due to generous support from the AAA-ICDR Foundation, and the Jacques M. Littlefield Foundation, the Academy is free for core community leaders.

How will participants prepare for the Academy?

Potential Academy participants will apply in Winter 2021.  Academy participants will be notified before April 2021.  In late-spring 2021, DCP will send Academy participants a spiral-bound set of materials to review in advance of the Academy.  With the assistance of a DCP liaison, core leadership groups will be asked to 1) meet as a group in late spring 2021 to meet one another and begin identifying their expectations for the Academy; and 2) meet with their Academy liaison approximately one month prior to the Academy program to discuss Academy expectations and answer any questions about the initiative.

What should participants expect at the Academy?

Participants will work collectively to build collaborative skills.  Participants will share resources with other similarly situated leaders in their community (community organizer to organizer; city manager to city manager; county sheriff to deputy policy chief). Participants will engage in role plays and hand-on planning grounded in DCP resources.  Participants will work with DCP leaders, ABA leaders, former Academy participants, Campus Leaders, a former state Attorney General, former Community Relations Service Concilliators, and DCP collaborators to develop action steps to implement in their communities.

What should we expect following the Academy?

Sustained engagement.  Core leadership groups will be expected to maintain a relationship with DCP to share resources, lessons learned, and give feedback to further develop the Academy initiative.  DCP anticipates maintaining and developing relationships with Academy communities.