The Team-Based Organizing Initiative

Published Dec 6, 2019 Updated Nov 17, 2022

Science. Community. Action.

The UCS Science Network and the American Geophysical Union are growing the capacity of scientist advocates who believe in science as a means to build a more just and equitable world. While taking action as individuals is important, organizing your peers or community into collective action increases your impact, and leads to wins that are more difficult to achieve when you act alone.

The Team-Based Organizing Initiative aims to train scientists in key advocacy and community organizing skills, equip them with tools to build a team of fellow local science advocates, and support them in leading actions with their teams that deploy science to protect their community’s health, safety, and environment.  

  • Interested in launching a new group? Join as a “Local Team”
  • Part of a preexisting group with its own identity? Join as an “Allied Group”

Organizing is a type of leadership that builds people power to create change in the world. A core facet of being an effective organizer and leader is bringing people together as a team in meaningful action and building a collaborative community.

Team leaders can join the Team-Based Organizing Initiative at any point in their advocacy and organizing journey. We are creating supportive learning environments to develop and strengthen scientist-advocates and organizers, and to build a science-advocacy movement together.

Check out our eligibility criteria below to see if this program might be the right fit for your work.

Expected Outcomes

With support from UCS and AGU coaches and trainers, the Team-Based Organizing Initiative is creating a network where:

  • Team leaders will develop key organizing and advocacy leadership skills, such as how to recruit and manage a team of science advocates, how to design a winning advocacy campaign strategy with equity at the center, and how to power map to understand the most effective path to create change.
  • Teams will lead strategic, collective actions that win real-world policy change in their communities
  • Team leaders will learn how to integrate principles for inclusive and equitable advocacy into their campaign, and will model these principles in the way they run their teams
  • Team leaders will help develop resilient teams of long-term scientist advocates who can take their learning with them beyond the Team-Based Organizing Initiative!
Commitments for Participation

Team leaders are expected to commit to the following:

  • Desire to build a sustained, organized team of scientists to advocate for policy change that reduces inequities and advances science-based solutions to societal challenges
  • Commit to minimum one-year involvement from your start date.
  • Maintain monthly calls with your assigned UCS/AGU coach.
  • Recruit at least five team members to actively work with you in your group.
  • Maintain regular meetings with team members to organize toward your goal
  • Encourage leadership and engagement from team members in your local group meetings and activities
  • Design and lead a minimum of two local advocacy actions each year towards your campaign goal and in alignment with UCS and AGU values.
  • Participate regularly in team leader trainings, workshops, or leader networking and strategy calls (at least once per quarter).
  • Attend the annual Team-Based Organizing Summit and encourage participation from team members (the 2023 Summit will take place from Friday, January 27-Sunday, January 29, 2023)
Resources for Team Leaders

Throughout the year you will have access to a wide range of UCS and AGU support and resources that you can take advantage of as needed:

  • Tools and trainings: all leaders are encouraged to attend our comprehensive trainings on developing leadership and campaign skills, and additional webinars on topics relevant to local advocacy will be shared when available. Templates, additional readings, and take-home activities will help you apply these lessons and share them with your fellow team members.
  • Coaching: monthly individual check-in calls with UCS and AGU staff, as well as consistent email support, will be available for all leaders. One-on-one coaching is an effective way to gain personalized support, share successes, receive guidance, and troubleshoot challenges.
  • Action opportunities: While each team will work on its own local campaign and design (with support from UCS and AGU) its own actions, UCS and AGU will also coordinate nationwide actions that all teams may opt into, with tools for local groups across the country to join forces around priority fights over issues of shared concern.
  • Network building: join an online community of other team leaders from across the country. Throughout the year we will share opportunities to learn and connect through video chats, calls, trainings, and in-person meetups. UCS and AGU will also help foster local connections with fellow scientists and science supporters in your area.
  • Funding and other resources: Your team will have access to apply for advocacy seed funds up to $400 to boost your work throughout the year, as well as the Science for Public Good Fund, with grants up to $1,500 to ignite creative local advocacy efforts. UCS and AGU staff are also proud to act as a referral for team leaders, and can provide examples for referencing this project on a resume or CV.
Eligibility/Selection Criteria

The Team-Based Organizing Initiative is designed to support scientists and experts in launching a new science advocacy group or increasing the skills and success of your existing group.

  • The main point of contact for each team or allied group must be Science Network eligible or a member of the American Geophysical Union in order to participate in this initiative.

If you do not qualify for our Science Network, you can take action with the Union of Concerned Scientists or the American Geophysical Union. We welcome applicants with a range of experiences in advocacy and local organizing. Applicants are likely to be a good fit if they relate to the following criteria:

  • Familiarity with the purpose of political advocacy, and some experience participating in or leading advocacy actions
  • Desire to use science and policy together to create positive, meaningful change in their community
  • Interest in learning and/or growing community organizing skills and supporting others to develop their own leadership and skills
  • Commitment to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in advocacy work, and learning about integrating equity into practices
  • Desire to increase the impact and effectiveness of group advocacy efforts (for those already convening a team)
  • Some previous experience in team leadership positions, volunteer or otherwise
  • Openness to new ideas and perspectives
  • Excitement about building the science advocacy movement!

We ask you to fill out a short application form to learn more about you, your group, and your advocacy goals. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Fill out the application today.

We will respond within two weeks of your application to notify you of the next steps. If you have any questions, please reach out to Ortal Ullman.

Apply to the Team-Based Organizing Initiative

Apply here.

As current or future leaders in your own communities, we want to support you in making even more meaningful differences locally, and equipping you with the skills to bring others along with you!