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The Midwest Academy is a community organizer training institute committed to "advancing the struggle for social, economic, and racial justice," founded in 1973 and based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. From local neighborhood groups to statewide and national organizations, Midwest Academy has trained over thirty thousand grassroots activists from hundreds of organizations and coalitions. Midwest Academy teaches an organizing philosophy, methods and skills that enable ordinary people to actively participate in the democratic process. Courses and consulting services are designed for progressive organizations and coalitions that utilize civic engagement activities to build citizen power at all levels of our democracy.
Inspired by years of organizing in the student, labor, women's, and civil rights movements, and funded by a back-pay award in an unfair labor practice suit, Heather Booth founded the Midwest Academy in 1973 with Steve Max, the Academy's first trainer and current Associate Director. Booth developed a curriculum to pass on the lessons learned in these movements, provide organizers with a political and economic context, and teach the skills necessary for effective organizing.
The Academy's program was premised on building a network across many different kinds of organizations in which activists could share their experiences, develop relationships, and shape a vision not bound by the limitations of any one form of organizing. In its early years, the Academy trained many leaders of the women's movement. Here they found a place where they could be reinforced as organizers. As word of the training spread, both experienced and would-be organizers came, bringing diversity to each session that has allowed activists from all parts of the country to benefit from each other's experience.
Over the years, the Academy has been instrumental in helping to build statewide coalitions in many states. Today, the Academy continues to provide training to these multi-issue, statewide organizations, as well as to numerous other groups, ranging from students to senior citizens and from neighborhood to national organizations.