Students Become Teachers at the 3rd Annual National Civic Leadership Training Summit (NCLTS)

“Democracy Never Sleeps” was the theme of the third annual National Civic Leadership Training Summit (NCLTS), which took place August 2-6, 2017 at the Stony Point Center in Stony Point, NY. Generously underwritten by the Puffin Foundation, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that supports social justice projects and the arts, the event brings together Vote Everywhere (VE) Ambassadors from around the U.S. to learn and plan for the upcoming school year.

Vote Everywhere Ambassador Samantha Ng discusses institutionalizing voter registration on her campus.

This year’s group included 43 Vote Everywhere Ambassadors who represented 39 colleges and universities from around the country.

Students participated in four days of intensive training led by staff, VE Ambassadors, and alumni. Session topics ranged from institutionalizing voter registration and managing teams to reporting data and media relations. The schedule also included team building activities, discussions, and a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary, “13th.”

In addition, The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s partners from Nonprofit VOTE, League of Women Voters, The Puffin Foundation, Young Invincibles, and the SLSV Coalition conducted trainings on nonpartisanship, voter registration and GOTV, and strategic campus planning.

This year’s summit coincided with two historic events, which lay at the heart of the Foundation’s work. August 4 marked the 53rd anniversary of the Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner bodies being found in an earthen dam after their disappearance on June 21, 1964. August 6 commemorated the 52nd anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This year’s summit included a keynote and panel discussion titled, “Democracy Never Sleeps.”

The theme “Democracy Never Sleeps” was woven into the entirety of the retreat. On Saturday, August 5, the summit was made public to the community for a panel discussion with the same title about the power of citizenship, especially during non-election years. The discussion was prefaced by a keynote address from Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and leader of the Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Project. The panel included change makers such as Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, Verna Eggleston, director of Women’s Economic Development initiatives in Africa at Bloomberg Philanthropies, and David Goodman, president of The Andrew Goodman Foundation.

The evening concluded with a Hidden Heroes award ceremony. Six Vote Everywhere Ambassadors were honored for their exceptional contributions to voting rights and social justice. The awardees included Olivia Anderson (Simpson College), Rachael Cohen Hamilton (Kutztown University), Sarah Funes (University of California-Berkeley), Erick Jenkins (East Carolina University), Katherine Liming (University of Dayton), and Dana Sweeney (University of Alabama).

2017 Hidden Heroes (from left): Rachael Cohen Hamilton (Kutztown University), Dana Sweeney (University of Alabama), Katherine Liming (University of Dayton), Erick Jenkins (East Carolina University), Sarah Funes (University of California-Berkeley), and Olivia Anderson (Simpson College).

2017 Hidden Hero and rising senior at Simpson College, Olivia Anderson says the summit gave her an opportunity to learn from her peers, “The NCLTS was one of the highlights of my college career. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other inspiring and passionate college students from around the country. I was able to learn voter engagement strategies from my peers and brainstorm ways to best carry on the legacy of Andrew Goodman.”

According to Vote Everywhere Program Development and Evaluation Manager, Margaret Sasser, the NCLTS gives student leaders the tools and resources to champion civic engagement on their campuses. “We hope to inspire our Ambassadors to take immediate and ongoing action to make our democracy inclusive and accessible for everyone. The four days are used as a building block for the upcoming school year,” Sasser added. ”In the future, we see the summit growing to include more of our expanding national network so we can train more student leaders for even greater community impact.”

About the Author

Kevin Hurtado is the Communications and Development Associate at Andrew Goodman Foundation. He graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a Bachelor’s in International Studies and a minor in Human Rights and Genocide. Previously, Kevin worked as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager at Newark Charter School Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting educational equity in the city of Newark.