What is CEP? The Community Equity Program (CEP) is an immersive political leadership program housed at the Wilder Foundation that brings together Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders who want to get involved in Minnesota’s legislative process and fight for change in their communities.
Led by a BIPOC team, CEP provides participants with a 9-month cohort experience along with knowledge and tools to: advocate and advance state-level legislation, engage with policymakers, question existing systems of power, create space for dreaming, and ultimately, build community power and solidarity to advance justice at the Capitol.
Note: this program does not explicitly focus on electoral politics or running for office, but can help you in the long run if this is of interest to you!
Is there a fee to participate in this program? NO!
Is there a stipend for this program? YES! We offer a $1,000 stipend (taxable) to each participant. Active participation & high attendance rate are required to recieve the stipend in full at the end of the program. Funds can be used at the discretion of the participant. This stipend is offered as a token of appreciation for the investment of time and energy participants will each spend embarking on this journey. To be clear - this should not be considered a form of regular employment income and CEP is not a traditional fellowship program (having the capacity to substitute/replace income from paid employment).
Why participate in CEP? By participating in the program you will:
- Develop skills and knowledge necessary for navigating and advocating during a legislative session including: legislative timelines, state budgets, navigating the Capitol campus, reading/drafting bill language, policy analysis, coalition building, preparing and delivering testimonies, and more
- Collectively cultivate a space to discuss and critique the historic and present harms of political systems, its impact on BIPOC communities' physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and dream up and integrate restorative pathways of governance
- Engage in an immersive experience by participating in legislative coalitions and supporting legislation that directly impacts BIPOC people and their respective communities
- Build meaningful relationships with your AMAZING cohort and alumni through virtual and in-person monthly social events and activites (ex. hiking, museums, bowling, virtual trivia, etc.)
- Connect with other BIPOC leaders outside the cohort who are passionate and knowledgable about different topics and work in relevant fields, such as legislative staff, community organizers, activists, journalists, elected officials, lobbyists, etc.
- Examine and cultivate personal leadership through reflection and critical analysis of your experience navigating the legislative process
- Share your knowledge from this program and help to engage others' in advocacy
Who should participate in CEP? Our program is open to applicants who are both early and seasoned in their political leadership journeys. At CEP, we are more interested in learning about your passions and commitment to activating change in community than popularity, degrees or accolades (though we're sure you worked hard for those as well!). Everyone has something to learn and share from/with one another and we welcome the unique experiences that each person brings with them to the program. In order to apply, applicants must:
- Be 18 years of age or older by September 1st, 2023
- Reside in the Twin Cities metro area (this program year will be predominantly in person with a few virtual sessions) - Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties
- Identify within a spectrum of racial/ethnic identities, including but not limited to: Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latine, Caribbean, Middle Eastern/North African, African, Bi/Multi-Ethnic, etc. This program is not open to folks who primarily identify as white/caucasian.
- Have an interest and commitment to impacting state-level legislative policy in Minnesota
- Be committed and available to attend at least 90% of scheduled cohort meetings and program-related activities during the extent of the program (students are welcome to apply if they can guarantee their availability the ENTIRE program year)
What does the commitment look like? Cohort members should expect to spend about 16-20 hours per month on CEP-related activities. Cohort members should expect to spend time on the following:
- 5-hour cohort educational sessions every other Friday from 9am-2pm from September-May (exact program dates are below - these will not change)
- 2-5 hours per month working with your paired advocacy coalition/organization
- 3-5 hours per month spent on individual assignments, group projects, time at the Capitol, etc.
- Regular monthly 1:1 technical assistance/support check-ins with CEP staff
Program Format: This program year will take place predominantly in person with some virtual sessions. In-person sessions will be held at Wilder's main office (451 Lexington Pkwy, Saint Paul 55104)or at the Capitol. Wilder's main office is right off of the green line light rail and has a number of bus stops within 4 blocks (the 83 & 21). For in person sessions, masking will be based on individial prefence and Wilder's Community Health Guildlines.
2023-24 CEP Program Dates (all Fridays except kickoff Day 2)
Program Kickoff on Friday, September 8th from 9am-5pm and Saturday, September 9th from 9am-12pm (in-person)
October: 6th & 20th
November: 3rd & 17th
December: 1st & 15th
January: 5th & 19th
February: 2nd & 16th
March: 1st & 15th & 29th
April: 12th & 26th
Graduation on Friday, May 17th from 11am-2pm
Timeline/Process: The CEP Selection Squad (made up of program alumni + staff) uses a 2-part process to select the next cohort - an online application and a virtual group interview. In Round 1, all applicants will have their applications reviewed and scored by a staff + 2 alumni. Those who advance to Round 2 will participate in a Zoom group interview with a few other applicants.
Round 1: Applications are accepted from Friday, May 19th - Sunday, June 18th at 11:59pm Central Time.
Round 2: Group Interviews (Monday, July 17th - Thursday, July 27th)
All applicants will receive an update on the status of their application on/before Friday, July 7th by 7pm (either you will advance to the group interview round or your application will not move forward). Interview slots will be offered in the morning, afternoon, and early evening (roughly 8am-6pm start times). There will be no weekend interviews.
Final Decision: Applicants will receive an email notification regarding the final determination on/before Friday, August 4th by 7pm.
Have questions or need assistance? JotForm supports standard input mechanisms such as user-provided keyboards, screen readers, and pointing devices. If for some reason you are having difficulty viewing and filling out this form or if you have any additional questions that would help you with submitting your application, please contact Michelle Koffa Dormoh, Community Equity Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help :)
Other Opportunities: Introducing the Community Equity Crash Course (CECC) - a 5-week, intensive political and advocacy leadership program designed for BIPOC community members. The program equips participants with the necessary tools to engage meaningfully with the legislative process and ensure that Capitol policies reflect their needs and those of their community. CECC is a condensed version of Wilder's Community Equity Program (CEP), whose graduates have gone on to become legislators, mayors, campaign organizers, non-profit leaders, and powerful advocates. CECC is ideal for individuals who cannot commit to the 9-month program required for CEP and have minimal or intermediate experience in legislative advocacy. Applications for CECC will be available in a few weeks. If you or someone you know is interested, please email us at CEP@wilder.org to receive a link to the application and for answers to any inquiries.
Check out our website for more information: www.wilder.org/cep