Welcome to Students Demand Action! The following toolkit is a comprehensive guide, created by high school students, to organize a Students Demand Action group at your high school. High school campuses are incredible places to organize, as students are learning more about the world around them and discovering new avenues to engage in the things in which they are most interested. The toolkit will cover everything from registering your group with Students Demand Action, recruiting students to join your group, hosting your first meeting, organizing your group’s leadership structure, and more!
If you have additional questions about organizing your group or want to set up a 1:1 meeting with the Students Demand Action Team, don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected]!
Let’s get started!
What is Students Demand Action?
Students Demand Action is a national initiative, created by and for teens and young adults, to channel the energy and passion of high school and college-aged students into the fight against gun violence. The following page is a succinct summary that shares topline gun violence statistics, why students are organizing in their schools, what we advocate for in the gun violence prevention movement, and how we do it. This is a great resource to reference when talking about Students Demand Action; it can be printed and shared with group members, potential new members, and anyone at your school or in your community who wants to know more about Students Demand Action.
Registering Your Group with Students Demand Action
Students Demand Action is a national grassroots volunteer program, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, with more than 700 local groups across the country and active volunteers in every state. Officially registering your local group with Students Demand Action will get the leaders in your group access to materials, resources, and support from the National Students Demand Action Program.
- Identify one leader to complete the Start a Group Application.
- All student leaders complete a Volunteer Agreement Form.
- Within one week of paperwork submission, your group will be officially approved and you will receive an email with additional information and next steps.
Students Demand Information Sheet
Students Demand Action is a national grassroots volunteer initiative, created by and for teens and young adults, a network within Everytown for Gun Safety, to channel the energy and passion of high school and college-aged students into the fight against gun violence.
Who We Are
Our generation has grown up in the midst of a gun violence crisis that worsened even through the COVID-19 pandemic. We should not have to fear for our lives at school, at sporting events, or at concerts. That’s why we’re rising up and organizing in our schools, universities and communities to fight this public health crisis.
The first Students Demand Action chapter started in 2016, and in 2018 we launched nationally. Now, there are more than 700 Students Demand Action chapters across the country—and we’re still growing.
What We Do
Since its inception, Students Demand Action has advocated for gun safety legislation locally and nationwide as well as proven community intervention solutions to gun violence in our communities.
We focus on mitigating the causes and effects of all forms of gun violence that plague our country by organizing in schools and communities to educate students, register voters, and demand common-sense solutions to this national public health crisis.
We work to prevent gun violence because it is the leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States. Every day, more than 100 people are shot and killed and over 200 more are wounded. The daily toll of gun violence in our country doesn’t always make headlines, but this violence affects everyone, everywhere.
Gun violence needs to be tackled at all levels of government—that’s why student volunteers work on gun violence prevention campaigns across the country by advocating for safer schools, homes, cities and getting young voters registered.
Gun violence prevention consistently ranks as a top issue for young voters, that’s why Students Demand Action registered 100,000 voters, with a focus on battleground states, during the 2020 cycle. As of summer 2021, more than 1.5 million students nationwide now attend schools with firearm storage awareness policies—thanks to the work of Students Demand Action and Moms Demand Action volunteers.
Through Students Demand Action, young people can create a safer future by sharing research and engaging in advocacy on the local and national level and continuing to mobilize through testifying and contacting lawmakers urging them to enact gun safety legislation. This past year, Students Demand Action played a key role lobbying for gun sense legislation in several states and we celebrated wins across the country for gun safety.
We provide young people with opportunities to get involved in the nationwide fight against gun violence alongside Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. Our volunteers are at the forefront of the fight against gun violence: whether it’s lobbying state lawmakers, raising awareness in our communities, or organizing within our schools. As the country’s largest grassroots, youth-led gun violence prevention group, we are pushing our leaders to offer common-sense solutions instead of just thoughts and prayers. Together, as the next generation of leaders, we can work to put an end to gun violence.
Students Demand Action Resources
About Students Demand Action
- Join a Calling Team
- Join your State’s Virtual Field Office
- Start a Group
- Find Students Demand Action Events
Text to 644-33*
- STUDENTS: Join Students Demand Action
- GROUP: Start a Students Demand Action Group
- FUTURE: Register to Vote
Resources for Leaders
*By texting, you agree to receive communications to your phone number from Everytown organizations. Msg freq varies. STOP to quit. Msg & data rates may apply.
- Host an Event
- Event Resources and Recruitment
- Event Host Guide
- Event Recruitment Request Form
- Guest Speaker Request Form
Media and Communications
Merch and Budgets
- Budget Guidelines
- Order T-shirts
- Expense Requests (Merch, Printing, Food, Supplies)
- Create a Classy Fundraising Page
Public materials for ALL STUDENTS – not just leaders:
- Summer Leadership Academy
- 3 Homegirls No Gun Podcast
- Voter Registration Drive Toolkit
- National Gun Violence Survivors Week Toolkit
Navigating Your Resources
Now that your group has been established, you have a huge range of resources at your fingertips. Here’s a breakdown of Students Demand Action resources.
- Students Demand Action Slack: Slack is a communication tool with different channels that cover different topics. The Students Demand Action Slack is the primary form of communication groups use to communicate with one another and the best place to get the most up to date information and connect with other Students Demand Action volunteers from across your state or across the country.
- Leadership Calls: On National Leadership Calls, Advisory Board Members share recent highlights and important news and provide space for students to connect. Leadership calls are a great way to hear about upcoming events, collect ideas from other groups, and learn about new materials and campaigns. Sometimes Leadership Calls have special guests; past speakers include lawmakers and members of Everytown’s staff.
- Gun Sense University online: GSUo is Students Demand Action’s online training platform where you can find toolkits and trainings that guide you in your advocacy and leadership development. This is a great place to look for new ideas and materials to present at your meetings, or resources to plan your events and learn how to best utilize our tools. Student Leaders also host live trainings weekly on GSUo, scroll down to the training calendar on the GSUo Students Dashboard to see the upcoming month’s training schedule.
- Recruitment: After your event is submitted and approved, you can request a text bank, phone bank or email to contact people in your area. These tools allow us to message people in our network to invite them to your event.
- Budget: All groups receive an annual budget of $250. Groups use their budget to print flyers, order a large SDA Banner, order food for their meetings, restock Students Demand Action merch, or buy materials for their events.
- Welcome kit: Once your group is approved, you’ll receive a package in the mail with materials such as Students Demand Action T-shirts, placards, buttons, and stickers. These can be used to increase your group’s visibility on campus and recruit people while tabling.
- Affinity Groups: Affinity groups are a space for Students Demand Action leaders and team members who share an identity to meet, build community, brainstorm initiatives, and work together.
Positioning within the Students Demand Action Universe
Now that your group has been established, you have a huge range of resources at your fingertips. Here’s a breakdown of what exactly you’ll have access to:
- Other Students Demand Action Groups: As a group leader, you have the opportunity to form relationships with other SDA groups. You might meet other student leaders at National Leadership Calls, Gun Sense University, through your local Moms Demand Action group, or at events. Partnering with other groups can sharpen your leadership skills by exposing you to alternative ways of organizing and problem solving.
- National Advisory Board: The Students Demand Action National Advisory Board is a team of students from around the country who have been selected to advise the Everytown network on all things students! They run the National Leadership Calls, serve on committees, and are always working on projects behind the scenes. National Advisory Board members are good people to reach out to on Slack if you have any questions about national campaigns or need general advice from a fellow student.
- National Calling Team: The National Calling Team is a group of leaders who run regular calling shifts to connect students with opportunities to advance our policy priorities. They do important voter registration work and are the first to mobilize when we need to take action on gun violence-related legislation.
- Moms Demand Action: Moms Demand Action has a chapter in every state and local groups across the country. Many Moms Demand Action groups also have a volunteer leader who serves as a Students Demand Action Liaison to help keep students engaged in priority campaigns and legislative work. Upon your group’s approval, you’ll be connected to your state’s Moms chapter and liaison.
- Everytown Staff: Everytown staff members are here to support you! Each region of the country has a staff member who is responsible for organizing the groups in that area. Staff members can be reached via Slack or by email ([email protected]) for recruitment needs, connection to resources, or anything else related to the infrastructure of Students Demand Action.
Why Become an Official School Club?
In addition to the resources that Students Demand Action offers to groups, high schools can provide free meeting space, additional budget funds, recruitment assets such as tabling opportunities and access to all campus email lists, and more. Your school knows the student body and school community better than Students Demand Action does, so take advantage of all of the resources both sources have to offer!
Applying for Recognition at Your School
- Research your school’s club recognition process: The Student Government Association or Office of Student Life/Activities at your school should have information on their website or in their office about how to start an official club. Other students, teachers, administrators and guidance counselors at your school are also great resources when first organizing your new group. Don’t hesitate to ask multiple people about the process, someone will know the answers to your questions or can direct you to someone who will!
- Prepare to share information about Students Demand Action: Oftentimes, student leaders of new clubs are asked to explain what the club’s purpose is and why you think it’s beneficial to start the club on campus. You can utilize the Students Demand Action information sheet, Students Demand Action website and Everytown Research or EveryStat to develop an understanding of what gun violence looks like in your state and how your new Students Demand Action group can work at your school to advocate for common sense gun safety laws and a safer America.
- Demonstrate interest: Some high schools ask that you prove that other students are interested in your club at school before they approve your official group request. You may be asked to collect signatures on a petition or host an interest meeting. Utilize the tips on the “How to Recruit for Your New Group” page to identify people who support the gun violence prevention movement and might be interested in taking action.
- Have your constitution ready: Some schools ask for a group constitution to ensure that you have a plan for how your club is going to operate and handle meetings, events, and the leadership structure. You can use this sample constitution to make this step of the process a little easier. Be ready to add or subtract clauses based on your school’s requirements.
- Affiliation letter: You may also get asked for a copy of your national affiliation letter, a document that recognizes that your Students Demand Action group is a part of a larger network of Students Demand Action groups across the country. To receive an affiliation letter for your school, email us at [email protected].
How to Recruit for Your New Group
One of the most important steps in getting started is recruitment. Luckily, high schools have lots of built-in tools for making recruitment more accessible. Some schools require demonstrated interest before the approval process and some even require you to hold an interest meeting to prove that there’s a space for your group on campus. These tips will help you reach your student body, however, every school is different and there’s plenty of room to be creative with your recruitment tactics.
Maximize Your Resources
- Online systems through the school: Most high schools have recruitment tools available to registered student groups. Some examples include:
- Morning/afternoon announcements: Request that information about your club or next meeting are announced over the loudspeaker or on TV – wherever your school typically shares announcements about club meetings, sporting events or upcoming occasions.
- Campus calendar: Central system that allows you to elevate your events to the school community.
- Newsletters/blasts: Submit your event to student government e-blasts or school newsletters for publicity to reach the entire student body.
- School newspaper: Reach out to someone on the school newspaper staff about writing a piece on your school’s newest club, or write your own!
- Social media: Social media is a great way to remind your peers about what you’re up to while they’re scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. Follow these tips to make the most of these platforms:
- Instagram: Create an instagram account for your school’s group and share announcements, new campaigns, member profiles, and pictures from meetings and events.
- Interact with other school groups: Follow and share posts from other student organizations at your school so that they’ll do the same for your group. Many groups focus on issues that intersect with gun violence prevention and have members who will also be interested in joining Students Demand Action.
- Connect with your school’s social media: If your school has platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, reach out to see if they will post photos of your group meetings, information about joining your group, or re-post one of your group’s posts on their Instagram or Facebook story. Many students follow school accounts, creating a prime opportunity for reaching a wider audience.
- Recruit through classes: High school classes are all about collaboration and continuous learning. Oftentimes, teachers are open to students using classes as a place for recruitment for their student group, particularly if the class is closely related to areas in which Students Demand Action works. Here are two ways to use this tactic to your advantage:
- Present in front of the class: Ask your teacher if you can make a short pitch for Students Demand Action to your classmates. This could be done before class, immediately afterwards, or during mid-class breaks. Have flyers handy, mention upcoming events or membership meetings and tell everyone to text STUDENTS to 644-33. (Make sure to include the following language : “By texting, you agree to receive communications to your phone number from Everytown organizations. Msg freq varies. STOP to quit. Msg & data rates may apply.”)
- Use physical materials: Leave SDA information sheets or upcoming meeting registration links with teachers in relevant classes to distribute to their students. Attend events or panels about topics that cover or intersect with gun violence prevention and pass out information about your group’s next event before or after the discussion.
- Partner with other clubs: Most students in high school are involved in more than one club, and oftentimes, they’re interested in a range of interrelated issues. Below are some ways to tap into the population of students that is already engaged in extracurricular activities:
- Co-host events: Host an event with another club to get to know its members and their mission. Students that have engaged with your Students Demand Action group through another group may be more likely to attend your meetings or help with an event.
- Form a coalition: Unite with other clubs to find ways to collaborate and promote gun violence prevention. You can join them in promoting each other’s events in a calendar or an all-group newsletter to share each other’s events in one place. This is an actionable way to establish a cooperative relationship with the campus community, develop a consolidated resource for students with specific interests to find opportunities that appeal to them, and can increase your group’s visibility.
- Table: Tabling is one of the most tried and true ways to recruit at high schools. Set up outside areas that have high traffic such as central meeting areas, libraries, and cafeterias. Share information about your upcoming meeting, have interested students text STUDENTS to 644-33 (make sure to include the following language: “By texting, you agree to receive communications to your phone number from Everytown organizations. Msg freq varies. STOP to quit. Msg & data rates may apply.”) and hand out the bracelets, buttons or stickers that come in the welcome package. Make sure you have a short pitch prepared about gun violence in America and how your group is advocating for gun safety.
- Relational organizing: Leveraging interpersonal relationships is a great foundation upon which to start a group. After meetings, always ask members to bring a new friend to your next meeting as a way to increase participation, but be cautious not to use this as your only recruitment method, as you want to foster an open, inclusive space for everyone interested in gun violence prevention.
- Flyers: Create flyers with meeting information and hang them on lockers, doors, or school bulletin boards. You can also utilize the text STUDENTS placards you’ll receive in your starter kit or the SDA Information sheet. Some schools have virtual bulletin boards where you can post creative flyers with the most up-to-date meeting RSVP links or campaign information and calls to action.
Things to Remember
- Every high school is different. Different schools have different rules, cultures and platforms. If the resources and strategies provided in this toolkit aren’t useful for your specific school, reach out to other clubs and faculty to find the best recruitment methods for your own school.
- Never stop networking. Your group is never done growing, so you should never stop recruiting. Networking opportunities can happen at any moment, so always be prepared to share your message at an event, in a class, or even in line at the cafeteria. New members can be found anywhere at any time!
- Keep going. Recruitment can be hard. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there and approach people you don’t know. If you don’t see immediate results, don’t get discouraged. Your brand new group is out there somewhere, and you can always reach out to be connected to a student leader at another campus near you.
- Have fun. Half the appeal of a high school group is the community it provides for students. Make sure your group comes across as a welcoming, inclusive space for students to share their voice and make an impact on their community to end gun violence. Never forget that your group can make a difference and still have fun!
Your First Meeting
Congratulations! You’re finally planning your first meeting; here are some tips to make sure it runs smoothly.
Introductions: Feel out the size of your event, if there’s a ton of people, it might not be necessary to have every person introduce themself; afterall, interest meetings are meant to be low-pressure environments where anyone can learn about your organization before they commit to joining. If there’s only a few people there, it can be great to create a welcoming, inclusive environment where everyone can share their name, pronouns, and why they are interested in the gun violence prevention movement.
Presentation: There are lots of topics you can talk about in your first meeting, here are some of the basics you should cover:
- What is Students Demand Action?: Use the “Students Demand Action 101” or the “Gun Violence Myths and Facts” presentations on GSUo to provide an overview of the gun violence crisis in our country. Allow time for students to ask questions, and make sure they leave with a solid understanding of what Students Demand Action is and what gun violence in the United States looks like.
- The leadership structure: You’re stronger together! Delegation is an important way to keep your work sustainable. Share a brief description of the leadership roles, and ask if anyone is interested in joining the leadership team.
- Upcoming events or potential partnership: Give your audience insight into what their involvement in SDA this year will look like. If you don’t have an event planned, don’t worry! You can use the Find an Event Tool to share what kind of work other groups around the country are doing. Giving students real-life examples of what they could be doing as a part of your group makes it more likely that they’ll attend the next meeting.
Closing remarks: There are a few important things to do to end your meeting on a high note and prepare the students in attendance to stay involved.
- Let your attendees know when you will see them next: Make sure you set a time for either your first event or your next meeting. It’s important to re-engage your members sooner rather than later. At a future meeting, utilize a Doodle poll to schedule meetings when most students are able to attend.
- Share your socials: Share your group’s Instagram or other social media so that new members can stay up to date on what your group is up to on a day-to-day basis. Students should also follow @studentsdemand on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok for national content.
- End on an action: Students love to take action! Have them text STUDENTS to 644-33* to make sure they’re looped in whenever there’s an opportunity to call their lawmaker or sign a petition. Check out studentsdemand.org or the Students Demand Instagram for current campaigns with quick actions that students can take to close out a meeting.
Building Your Students Demand Action Leadership Team
Starting a group from scratch may seem daunting, but it’s easier if you find ways to delegate. Establishing your leadership team is a good way to get your group up and running. You may find that you want to have an executive board before you seek approval, or you might want to make leadership opportunities available at your first meeting. There’s no right formula, so explore whatever is best for your campus.
Students Demand Action uses a distributed leadership model of organizing which allows for groups to have as many students as they wish to serve as Leaders in the group. We believe that increasing our numbers of Student Leaders working together on gun violence prevention directly strengthens our movement by capitalizing on each student’s individual talents. We also refrain from assigning hierarchy to leadership roles, such as president or vice president, eliminating the need for elections and competition. Students Demand Action is committed to creating a collaborative, non-competitive environment, where everyone’s voices and experiences are valued.
As part of your leadership role we provide resources, trainings and expect everyone to learn and develop the following skill set:
- Understanding how stereotypes, bias, and forms of racism in America (including structural racism, implicit bias, gender bias, religious bias, ageism, and bias based on gender identity or sexual orientation) impact our society and an ability to articulate the connection between these large societal issues and the disproportionate impact of gun violence on specific demographic groups in America.
- Understanding how dynamics of power, voice, and privilege impact one-on-one and group interactions, and a commitment to using power, voice, and privilege to make our movement more equitable.
- A commitment to share direct feedback with others and listen to and implement feedback given.
- Commitment to building diverse teams and learning management skills for equity and inclusion.
- Ability to help other people in our movement develop this same skill set and knowledge base. As with all other organizing skills the expectation is that over time leaders would also develop the ability to train other volunteers in these areas.
- All leaders are eligible to receive media training and support as part of their leadership role.
Onboarding New Leaders
When growing your leadership team, it’s important to have student leaders register as official leaders with Students Demand Action by completing the Volunteer Agreement Form. Once new student leaders complete the Volunteer Agreement and their parents or legal guardians complete a permission slip (if they are under 18—we will provide the permission slip upon completion of the volunteer agreement), they’ll gain access to National Students Demand Action Slack, GSUo, National Leadership Calls, and more. Having all of your group leaders plugged into these resources ensures that your group will have the most up to date information on campaigns and materials at all times, and allows the Students Demand Action team to get to know your group and help support your work.
Students Demand Action Leadership Roles
The Group Leader or Co-Leaders
Are you good at managing a lot of moving parts? The group lead is instrumental in ensuring the growth of the group, and the role is flexible. The Group Lead will manage tasks as they come and guide the other student leads and members to empower them to be strong advocates. The Group Lead identifies group goals and delegates work to the appropriate leaders.
- Connect leaders with upcoming trainings and development opportunities
- Identify and recruit diverse leaders
- Coordinate with Moms Demand Action Chapter and Students Demand Action Liaison
- Set the agenda and facilitate meetings
- Collaborate with other leads to plan out goals/action items
- Distribute work to other leads/group members and following up on asks
Do you believe in the power of journalism to spread our message? The Communications Lead works to raise your group’s profile in the media to tell the world why we do the work we do—and show them that we’re winning.
- Empower leaders to access media trainings to elevate their stories as they see fit, particularly those who have been disproportionately impacted by gun violence
- Represent the group at public events and media interviews
- Coordinate with Everytown’s communications team to identify events to advise to the media
- Form relationships with and maintain a list of local media outlets
- Support legislative work by coordinating Letters to the Editor and Op-eds
Are you looking to learn the resources that support the movement? The Resource lead will help with event sign-in, support the group’s efforts to publicize events and activities using the tools Everytown provides; the lead will empower others to learn how data is key to building the gun violence prevention movement in your community and across the nation.
- Manage the Host An Event Form and attendee check-in forms
- Work with Events Lead to request recruitment tools (peer to peer texts, emails, phone banks)
- Develop a working knowledge of platforms such as GSUo, VAN, etc.
Are you passionate about pulling the levers of power to create change? Work with Everytown for Gun Safety, the Students Demand Action team, and your local Moms Demand Action group to identify opportunities to support ongoing campaign priorities.
- Follow local, school, state, and federal activity
- Update the group on local, state, and national legislative work
- identify opportunities for students to engage in campaigns
- Participate in and recruit students for advocacy days.
- Work on state and federal campaigns in coordination with the Moms Demand Action Chapter
Are you comfortable with leveraging money as a powerful tool in social justice movements? Consider being the Treasurer, where you’ll use Everytown’s resources to manage the group’s budget, track expenses, spearhead fundraising, and build your group’s power.
- Submit and manage budget requests and expenses
- Track spending and fundraising in budget tracker
- Manage school granted budget
- Provide your group regular updates on the status of your budget
- Promote use of online fundraising tools to help raise funds for your group
- Help coordinate fundraising events
Are you an outgoing social butterfly? Do you bring people together? The Membership Lead oversees recruitment by promoting Students Demand Action and inviting new individuals to attend meetings. Once individuals express interest, it’s the Membership Lead’s job to tell them about upcoming meetings and events, ensure that they receive future communications from the group, and have them text STUDENTS to 644-33 (“By texting, you agree to receive communications to your phone number from Everytown organizations. Msg freq varies. STOP to quit. Msg & data rates may apply.”) to get nationwide Students Demand Action updates. This lead must be prompt to respond to inquiries and should be eager to promote the organization.
- Work with the Events Lead to organize tabling events to recruit new members
- Identify places in your school or community where you can share the mission and attract new members
- Manage attendee check-in forms and member outreach
- Track attendance at events and meetings
Do you enjoy bringing people together to advocate for social justice? Do you want to bring our action ideas to life and make them happen? Events – big and small – are key for activists to get to work, and the Events Lead makes them happen.
- Plan, track, and oversee all group events.
- Coordinate with Everytown staff to secure meeting venues.
- Make sure all group events are posted on the Students Demand Action Events Page using the Create an Event Form.
- Track attendance at events
- Work with Resource Lead, Membership Lead and Treasurer to recruit for events and ensure the event is within budget parameters
Do you have a creative side? Do you enjoy utilizing social media for social justice and activism? Consider being a Social Lead where you can use social media as a tool to recruit new members, promote events, educate your following, and grow your power!
- Create content for social media, like graphic design posters, Instagram Stories, Tweets, or TikToks
- Work with Advocacy Lead to bring attention to local, statewide, and federal legislation and share calls to action
- Promote events, draw in new members, and elevate voices and stories in the group
- Share social media best practices with other student leaders
- Amplify the educational posts and calls to action from @studentsdemand and @everytown social media accounts
Community Outreach Lead
Are you well-connected in your community? Do you greatly value the intersection between gun violence prevention and other activist movements? The Community Outreach Lead will work to connect their local Students Demand Action group with local businesses, activist groups, and school clubs. They will form collaborative, working relationships to strengthen the outreach base of Students Demand Action’s work to activists and volunteers of various other social justice issues.
- Identify local partners to co-host or support events
- Perform outreach and lead communication with clubs and activist groups in the area
- Works collaboratively with other Students Demand Action groups in the area and state
- Facilitate good relationships with community members and organizations
Sample Month Calendar
Here is an example of what a month might look like for your Students Demand Action group. Keep in mind, every group is different and high school students’ availability varies throughout the semester.
Group Event Examples
Monthly group events are great ways to keep your group engaged, recruit new members and take tangible action.
- Join a Students Demand Action national calling shift
- Partner with a community organization to support their needs
- Attend State Advocacy Day
- Host a panel or guest speaker
- Attend a national Students Demand Action event
- Attend a Moms Demand Action event in your area
- Host a Voter Registration Drive
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Students tend to be the most drawn to working with their peers with whom they have the most in common. In order for our movement to win, we must do more than what is most comfortable when recruiting for and organizing our groups. For an organization to be approachable, it must be a safe space for people of all identities. Creating safe spaces begins with the intentional choices that we make every day.
Choice points are opportunities for equity and inclusion. Even small shifts in our practices and policies can lead to significant impacts and creating a consistent practice of seizing opportunities to shift the status quo can help level the playing field for marginalized people. Inventorying our choice points begins with noticing where there may be an unconscious pattern in what we do. Consider these examples:
|Frequency||Sample Choice Points|
|Daily||– Whose emails and calls I return, and how quickly?|
|Weekly||– Which team members can I make time to check in with and for how long?|
– Which team members do I give thoughtful, frequent and/or candid feedback to?
– Where are we recruiting? Are we recruiting only within our friend groups or is our group an open and inclusive space?
|Monthly||– Are our meeting times and locations accessible for everyone who is interested?|
– Which team members have most of the leadership development opportunities?
– Can I personally invite a new group of people to take on a new project or attend a skill based training?
– Which projects get most of my attention?
– In decision-making: Who is the process serving? Who benefits? What groups are missing from the conversation?
|Annually||– What items in my budget are dedicated to equity work?|
– Are our work outcomes different for people of color?
– What groups of people/communities are benefitting more than others because of our work?
Our Core Values
A statement of core values makes it clear how we expect volunteers in our organization to operate. This should be shared during on-boarding of new leaders and can be referred back to at any time.
|We believe in||Meaning||Which leads us to do things like…|
|Diversity||We value the leaders, volunteers and staff in our organization, and are committed to working together professionally to better advance the mission of our work.||– Approach this work with professionalism and courtesy to everyone participating.|
– Assume good intentions on the\ part of others.
– Bring forward solutions when raising issues.
– Being open minded to unique and different ways of approaching this work.
|Equity||We value the unique skills and talents of individuals who step into leadership roles to develop and guide our movement.||– Recognize the potential leadership in all volunteers.|
– Prioritize training, through GSU, GSUo and in state retreats, to support our grassroots leaders.
– Be intentional in recruitment of leaders with explicit goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
– Provide ongoing peer-to-peer mentorship for leaders across the country.
|Inclusion||Inclusion is putting the practice of diversity into action by creating welcoming environments where everyone feels respected, supported, and valued, and ensuring that diverse perspectives are represented at all levels of our leadership team.||– Participate and encourage others to participate in trainings and resources focused on implicit bias, tools to interrupt it, and other tactics for inclusion.|
– Place individuals from a variety of backgrounds and identities into leadership roles.
– Ensure all events include survivor voices and are mindful of survivors in attendance.
– Amplify the voices of marginalized communities, and elevate communities most impacted by gun violence through our events, activities, media and social media opportunities.
|Respect||We value the leaders, volunteers and staff in our organization, and are committed to working together professionally to better advance the mission of our work.||– Approach this work with professionalism and courtesy to everyone participating.|
– Assume good intentions on the\ part of others.
– Bring forward solutions when raising issues.
– Being open minded to unique and different ways of approaching this work.
|Leadership||We value the unique skills and talents of individuals who step into leadership roles to develop and guide our movement.||– Recognize the potential leadership in all volunteers.|
– Prioritize training, through GSU, GSUo and in state retreats, to support our grassroots leaders.
Be intentional in recruitment of leaders with explicit goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Provide ongoing peer-to-peer mentorship for leaders across the country.
|Impact||We are relentless in working in the most strategic, efficient and effective manner to bring about change to prevent gun violence, creating impacts at the local,|
state and national level.
|– Set priorities and SMARTIE goals for our work through the chapter planning process.|
– Track local, state and national events, actions, volunteer involvement and reengagement to meet our goals.
– Utilize Everytown’s data, research, and professional expertise to ground our strategies to prevent gun violence.
– Say no to activities that do not align with our priorities.
|Sustainability||We are committed to the fact that this|
work will take many years to directly reduce gun deaths, injuries, and the impact of gun violence in America, which means our movement must be built to grow in a sustainable manner.
|– Develop management skills, with the support of Everytown, in order to effectively manage teams and delegate work.|
– Work strategically and set priorities so our work is manageable and has the most impact for the time and energy invested.
– Practice self-care to create balance between volunteerism and work and family responsibilities AND to process potential secondary trauma or retraumatization that can occur in this work.
– Hold each other and our teams accountable for practicing self-care.
|Flexibility & Adaptability||We deeply value flexibility, understanding the rapidly changing nature of this work, and the ability to adapt to such changes.||– Value creative solutions to challenges.|
– Consider ideas from a variety of sources and perspectives.
– Seek constructive ways to adapt to changing circumstances and unexpected events.
|Culture of Feedback||We commit to receiving and sharing constructive feedback in a kind and supportive way so that our leaders can be as effective as possible and our organization can continue to learn in our work to end gun violence.||– Debrief and solicit feedback for each campaign that we run.|
– Seek out and be open to feedback about our work.
– Trust that others also want to hear feedback in order to learn and improve our effectiveness.