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The Southern Poverty Law Center Announces Launch of New Advocacy Institute


The 5-Week SPLC community leadership program kicks off in Jackson, Miss and is designed to strengthen and support communities by educating and empowering emerging activists, advocates. Deadline for Applications is Friday, May 20th 



JACKSON, Miss. -- This week the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced the launch of its new Advocacy Institute, a training ground for emerging activists and advocates across the state who are interested in advancing issues that are critical to the improvement of their communities through education, transformative change and collective action.   

SPLC’s Advocacy Institute will be held on the campus of the historic Tougaloo College – where an inaugural cohort of 30 program participants will be trained on voting rights restoration. They will experience a curriculum that includes lessons on how to advocate for change through protest; community organizing for disenfranchised voters; and working with community partners to connect participants with resources to help support them with re-entry efforts. 

“When there is an imbalance of power at the top, how do you counter that? By building power from the ground up,” said Waikinya Clanton, the SPLC’s state office director for Mississippi. “And so that’s how we’re looking at this Advocacy Institute. We are going to be teaching people how to build power; how to understand the rules of engagement; and how to work through and navigate the resources that are available to them, suffrage being one of them.” 

In collaboration with the SPLC Voting Rights Practice Group, the State Office recognizes the enormous opportunity the institute presents for countless Mississippians and is why we have designed it to specifically address the needs of impacted persons and their families. 

“The most concerted work to end felony disenfranchisement, is already being done by the people most deeply impacted by it. The goal of the institute is “to build the foundation of power so that this movement can be led directly by impacted folks, but in a more cohesive way” said John Paul Taylor, SPLC Field Director for Voting Rights. 

The Advocacy Institute will welcome its first class of thirty fellows on June 25th, during a five-week program that will include speakers and learning modules that will explore Mississippi’s history with voting, as well as, voting rights laws in Mississippi and helping students navigate the road to rights restoration.  

Access the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Advocacy Institute application here