On November 22, 2005, MoveOn.org Executive Director Eli Pariser announced that his group had created the New Organizing Institute (NOI), “a unique grassroots program that trains young, technology-enabled political organizers to work for progressive campaigns and organizations.” Victory in the 2006 midterm elections was NOI’s immediate priority. Said Pariser: “The Internet has made huge changes in politics … Now, our [MoveOn’s] former Organizing Director Zack Exley is working on cultivating the next generation of ‘online organizers’ at the New Organizing Institute. The first step: find 50 talented up-and-coming organizers, put them through an all-expenses-paid training week, and place them on 2006 campaigns where they can really make a difference.”
NOI’s mission is threefold: “to train and support a new generation of technology-enabled campaigners”; “to consolidate and disseminate knowledge gained in the field of political technology and online organizing”; and “to conduct new research and post-campaign investigations that employ results-focused, systems thinking to make progressive campaigns and organizations more efficient.”
The first NOI training event was held from February 24 through March 4, 2006 in Washington, DC. Approximately three-dozen trainees took part in intensive seminars and brainstorming sessions, followed by mock campaign simulations that were the capstone of each day’s activities. Another training session was held in August 2006. According to NOI, “graduates” of its trainings would be assigned to “2006 Democratic campaigns in key roles.” “After Election Day,” said NOI, New Organizing Institute personnel would “help find participants another job, in the world of Democratic Party politics or in a progressive organization.”
NOI training is modeled on Campaign Corps’ “Campaign School,” a progressive training program for recent college graduates, initiated by EMILY’s List in the summer of 2005. The Campaign School selected and educated 41 young progressives and then dispatched them to work on key campaign races. EMILY’s List is an organizer of NOI.
NOI also holds occasional day-long workshop/trainings for high-level campaign managers, party officials, political consultants, union leaders, and executive directors of leftist organizations. The goal of these workshops is to “fill that gap and overcome the insecurity and alienation felt by too many of our leaders about technology.” Within the first two years, NOI anticipates introducing “hundreds of new, talented and trained online organizers and technologists into the job market.”