Real Food Challenge is currently accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Fellowship Program - an intentional, experiential opportunity to develop organizing and leadership skills with a national student movement organizing for a just, resilient, community-based ('real') food system.
The Final Application Deadline is Sunday, March 22nd.*
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The Real Food Challenge Fellowship Program is a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience in building a social movement. Through this 14-month program, Fellows engage in intensive projects on a regional or national level while also honing their leadership skills and food systems knowledge through our participatory learning curriculum and engaged Fellowship community.
Fellows come away with direct campaign and organizational experience, new professional and movement networks, and a toolbox of relevant movement-building and organizational skills. At the same time, they support important student-led efforts to shift millions of university dollars away from industrial agriculture and toward just, sustainable food enterprises.
Over the years, the Fellowship has evolved based on the growth and needs of RFC campaigns, and reflection and evaluation from each Fellowship class. This year’s Fellows focus on projects relating to building the college and university movement for a real food system.
These may include:
Developing & executing national Social Media & Communications strategies
Through these projects, Fellows will be given a level of exposure and responsibility usually reserved for experienced professional organizers and movement leaders. Fellows will be expected to take a significant amount of initiative, problem-solve on the fly, and work with a diverse, and often geographically-distributed team.
What does it look like? Phone calls or video-chats with student teams multiple times a week about campaign plans and organizing efforts. Team meetings with other Fellows and staff to collaborate on focus projects, and strategize and prioritize work. Once- or twice-a-year coordination of road trips to visit target schools, facilitate workshops, and meet with key players. And plenty more!
As part of the Fellowship, the Real Food Challenge is committed to Fellows’ growth and development. Our curriculum is explicitly action-oriented and participatory in approach. This means Fellows’ projects are seen as the core “textbook” for their learning. Other curricular pieces are meant to intersect with and enhance that learning-by-doing experience. These supplemental learning opportunities include:
· Intensive coaching from a coordinator
Learning modules are broken, roughly, into two categories: 1) Organizing and Leadership and, 2) Food Systems. Topics covered include the following (with some variation year-to-year).
Leadership and Organizing
-Storytelling & Public Narrative
-1-to-1s / Relational Meetings
-Social Media & Communications
-Facilitation and Popular Education
-Coaching and Agitation
-The Corporate Food Service Industry
-Distribution and Supply Chains
-Food & Labor Intersections
-Fair Trade, Direct Trade
-History of Food Movements
The Fellowship runs from July 2015 - August 2016, a total of 14 months. While each Fellow’s experience will be unique, an average year includes these major milestones:
Fellows work in teams of two or more and are supervised by a member of staff. Regional teams have at least once-weekly check-in meetings. All fellows gather for monthly discussions, in addition to periodic online distance learning modules. Twice a year, fellows engage in structured peer feedback sessions called “Real Talk.” Fellows also engage in a Quarterly Review process, focused both on campaign outcomes and Fellows’ personal development goals.
In addition to the skills and experience offered, fellows are provided a $2,000 stipend in installments of $1,000 at the end of each semester. Fellows are also reimbursed for all pre-approved Fellowship-related expenses and travel.
Graduate Program Opportunity
Fellows have the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary, distance-based graduate program through Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT), which is a respected leader in environmental education and sustainable food systems.
>> We strongly encourage people of color; queer, trans, and gender variant folk; and working class activists to apply!
The Real Food Challenge is an incredibly dedicated, nurturing, and inspirational group of people, and I've learned so much in my time as an RFO. This work is really important and challenging, and I would highly recommend it for an aspiring organizer who wants to sink their teeth into a strategic, relationship-based, national campaign for food justice.
- Jon Berger, Mid-Atlantic Field Organizer, Class of 2012
With RFC, I built strong friendships and gained important professional connections. I learned skills that help me as a community activist today - how to facilitate meetings, plan events, collaborate and communicate. I left feeling confident that we can change the food system.
- Sue DeBlieck, Midwest Field Organizer, Class of 2009
The three words that best describe my RFO experience are connection, challenge, and mentorship. Before RFC I had been active in several environmental groups where I had felt disconnected and disempowered. In RFC, however, I found hundreds of other students just like me, connected to the food wheel by different spokes but all sharing the same central purpose. I was challenged to build new skills, such as organizing a network, planning and executing large events, and training other students. Most of all, the RFO experience provided mentorship: the reflection and constructive feedback processes enabled powerful personal growth in skills and character.
- Melissa Tinling, Southeast Field Organizer, Class of 2011
The Final Application Deadline is Sunday, March 22nd.