Anne Braden Program 2011 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Training Program

Everything you might want to know about this program.


Applications for our upcoming program will be available when our next cycle is announced.

Who was Anne Braden?

Anne Braden was a white anti-racist organizer and leader in racial justice movements in the U.S. South, including the Civil Rights Movement.  She brought a working-class based socialist analysis and community-organizing model to the struggle against white supremacy and all forms of inequality.  She believed in the need to root out racism in the hearts and minds of white people, and worked from the perspective that white people have a collective interest in dismantling white supremacy.  Anne Braden's legacy has deeply inspired Catalyst Project and many others. In naming our program after her, we hope to honor her memory and the movements of which she was a part.  

Who is the Anne Braden program for?  
The Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training program is designed for white social justice activists who are looking for ways to bring a deeper racial justice analysis and practice to their current political work.  The program is grounded in the politics of collective liberation from which Catalyst Project operates – a framework that focuses on challenging white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, and all forms of systemic oppression while building toward new libratory and equitable relationships, structures, and institutions.  This is not a series of “101” style workshops, but rather an intensive political education and leadership development experience. We are looking for participants with at least a few years of experience working for social justice; who have been part of organizations and/or plan on joining organizations working for systemic social change; and who are at a point in their lives where they really want to go deep, grow, and step up their work for justice. We are looking for participants with a desire to bring what they learn in the program to long-term organizing and movement building for liberation.

What are the goals of Anne Braden program?

Our goals for this political education program are to:
•    Support participants in developing radical political analysis, organizing skills, and ability to think strategically.
•    Present lessons and insights from different political traditions and study histories of resistance in the US.
•    Support participants to operate from a holistic political understanding of injustice and liberation and have the confidence, capacity, and vision to activate that understanding into strategic action that will build movements for justice.
•    Support the development of more accountable, healthy and strategic leaders, who are effective in working class, multiracial and primarily white social justice  organizations, and who have skills to affect change and move anti-racist politics and practice in different organizations, communities and movements.
•    Help build relationships between participants so they can support and encourage one other’s work for justice beyond the program.  
•    Support economic and racial justice organizations in working class communities and communities of color through the volunteer placements.
•    Help build a dynamic, multiracial, working class based left in the Bay Area and nationally, led by people of color, working class people, women, queers, transgendered people and other marginalized communities.

What will the training program include?

•    Volunteer Placements: Anne Braden Program participants will volunteer at least 4-8 hours a week at multi-racial social justice community organizations in the Bay Area during the program. Participants will learn more about grassroots organizing and gain experience engaging in work within multi-racial organizations. We have found that participants who can put in at least 6 hours or more have had a much more powerful experience.  Some participants have chosen to put in between 10-30 hours a week into their volunteer placement to gain more skills and experience and make a bigger contribution.  
•    Mentorship: Participants will be paired with experienced white anti-racist activists and organizers who are part of Catalyst’s extended local network.  Participants will meet with mentors at least 3 times to discuss the volunteer placement, and the Anne Braden program, and to generally support the development of the participants through the program.
•    Organizing Skills:  Participants will connect their vision and analysis with strategy and organization. They will develop a basic understanding of different kinds of organizations, strategies, and principles, including the principle of accountability.  In doing so, participants will increase their ability to be effective organizers for justice.
•    Grassroots Fundraising:  Participants will develop their skills by fundraising to help cover the costs of the program.  Participants will get training and support around creative ways to raise money and develop tools useful in sustaining social justice organizations. The fundraising component is designed as an organizing tool to help participants share their experience in the program with family and friends.  
•    Analysis of Systems of Oppression and Privilege:  Program participants will undergo an intensive education in understanding systems of oppression and privilege, with a focus on capitalism and imperialism and how race, class and gender operate within these systems.  This component of the program will also explore how white privilege and white supremacy operate in U.S. institutions and within social justice movements today.  We will study these systems within a framework that recognizes the interdependence of our struggles and liberation.
•    Histories of Resistance and Liberation: Participants will study the history of multiracial working class resistance movements, global justice movements, and legacies of white anti-racist history.
•    Political Vision:  Participants will engage in focused work to understand the role and value of vision in various organizing traditions. They will also practice with tools to help them begin to articulate their own visions of a just world.  
•    Guest Presenters and Speakers: As part of the curriculum, local organizers and activists will routinely facilitate and present, giving participants access to the lessons, politics, and experiences from multiracial left organizing in the Bay Area.

Why is the Anne Braden program designed for white people?

We believe that white supremacy is a major barrier to ending all systems of oppression, including capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, and others.  We believe that white people have a stake and a role in fighting for racial justice, and that not only our humanity but also our liberation depends on ending white supremacy.  We want to see millions of white people stand up for racial justice, and support and join multiracial struggles led by communities of color. We see working with other white people as a strategic way to support building multiracial movements for justice.  In order to do this we believe it is important to have curriculum designed for white people to explore the historical development of white supremacy and the process of internalizing white superiority.  We believe there is specific curriculum that is useful for white activists to develop anti-racist consciousness and skills to develop proactive anti-racist organizing strategies.  Anti-racist political education can and should happen in many ways— within multiracial spaces, people-of-color-specific spaces, and white-specific spaces, with an understanding that which form it takes should be context-specific and these different types of political education can support each other.  

Building on the history of the 12 years of the Challenging White Supremacy (CWS) workshops (a 15 week anti-racist training program for white social justice activists led by veterans of the Civil Rights, anti-war, and anti-racist socialist movement), along with feedback from our advisors and allies within racial and economic justice organizations, we determined that within the San Francisco Bay Area an anti-racism program specifically designed for white activists is both needed and strategic. Many past participants of both CWS and the Anne Braden Program are playing important roles in multiracial and predominately white social justice efforts through a wide range of settings, institutions, and groups.  Many participants have led effective anti-racist efforts to support and build up people of color-led struggles.  Many participants have taken on solidarity work and fundraising work with social justice organizations in communities of color.  Many are raising and educating young people in our communities to know people’s history, develop democratic anti-racist skills, and create positive change.  Additionally, in the Bay Area, there are multiple long standing political education and organizing training programs designed for people of color, such as the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), and Center for Third World Organizing.  Catalyst Project sees our work supporting the development of white anti-racist organizers and leaders as part of building multi-racial movements for collective liberation.   

What do the application and training program fees go towards?
Catalyst Project is a small, primarily volunteer-based organization with a limited budget. We are supported by grassroots fundraising, and fees from some of the political education we do.  In our attempt to keep the program accessible, we are trying to be creative about ways to cover expenses.  The $10 application fee partially covers the cost of printing and processing the applications, web hosting, etc. The $500-$1000 training program fee partially covers the expenses of planning, developing and leading the sessions, setting up volunteer placements, room rental, developing and printing materials, honorariums for speakers, producing readers, and much more.  We do not want money to be a reason for you not to participate— please contact us if you have questions about payment programs and/or solidarity scholarships.  

What is a solidarity scholarship?

Catalyst believes that working-class leadership is strongly needed in order to build a more just and equitable society.  Working-class people are the majority in our society and have a strategic role in the functioning (or non functioning) of the economy. Poor and working-class people experience the direct hardships of capitalism on their bodies, spirits, and communities, and are often in positions to see opportunities to create social change.  Throughout history, poor and working-class people have built powerful social justice movements that have changed the values and institutions that govern society.   We believe that working-class leadership based in values of solidarity, democracy, and mutual aid is necessary for our collective liberation.  The Carl Braden Working Class Leadership Scholarship Fund is a solidarity scholarship for working class and poor participants in the Anne Braden Program to develop their leadership.  Carl Braden was married to Anne Braden and a working class union organizer, anti-racist activist and feminist.  The scholarships are not given as a form of charity to those in need, but in solidarity to poor and working class activists whose leadership the movement needs.

How was the Anne Braden program developed?
Since the end of the Challenging White Supremacy (CWS) workshops (a 15-week anti-racism training institute based in San Francisco that the Catalyst Project grew out of in 2000), there has been an acute need and a consistent request for a training space such as this. We believe political education should be directly tied to on-the-ground organizing, and shaped by the social justice community of which we are a part, so we developed a community input process.  This included meetings with Sharon Martinas, who ran the CWS workshops, Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez who has led many efforts to build multiracial movement strategy, and other movement elders, getting feedback and ideas from all of our advisors, having ongoing meetings with racial and economic justice organizations and organizers, and holding a community meeting to get feedback and ideas on how this program can most effectively support multiracial movement building and struggles for social justice.

We have led two Anne Braden Programs thus far, and many of the 68 participants said it was a hugely transformative experience for them, and had a significant impact on their social justice work.  We have received positive feedback from the volunteer placement sites that participants have made important contributions to their work.  Additionally, we have received feedback from organizers of color and white anti-racists in the Bay Area and around the country that developing more white anti-racist leaders and organizers is making an important contribution to multiracial movement building.  

Reflections from past participants and site supervisors:
The Braden Program gave us an understanding of how to bring our whole selves to our lives, organizing, families and communities – through exploring our roots; developing analysis around oppression, resistance and movement building; and strengthening our confidence and leadership skills as anti-racist organizers. The different components of the program are helping me meaningfully place myself in racial justice struggles for the long haul.
-Leah Carnine, Braden Participant ‘09 (Tempe, Arizona)

Given the vision we have for our people and the current conditions, there is always a tremendous gap between the resources and people power we have and what we want and need to accomplish. The skills, energy, and time that our Anne Braden volunteers gave last fall made things possible that simply would not have been possible without them. Along with the boost in capacity, the individuals that joined our organization for four and a half months helped to push us and inspire us by bringing their passion, curiosity, hope, wisdom and love to our work.   
-Vanessa Moses, Volunteer Placement Site Supervisor ’08 and ’09 (Lead Organizer with Causa Justa :: Just Cause)

Read more quotes about the impact of the program by clicking here.