Community Organizing & Policy Trainings

Tailored trainings are one of the services offered by the Center to you, your coalition, or your grantees. We provide our trainings for free for all tobacco tax funded projects. Your job is simply to bring together a group of community advocates and staff. We have worked with coalitions on issues such as smokefree housing, tobacco retailer licensing, smokefree events, providing them with skills and strategies to approach these campaigns.

No matter what policy goal you are working on, and no matter where you are located, we can help.

Learn more about our various trainings below, centered around Phase 1 – 4 of your campaign. These trainings can be combined and are always tailored to your specific community and participant needs. Don’t see what you are looking for? Contact us and we will create a training just for you.

Contact us to request a training.

Phase 1: Assessing & Investigating

An Introduction to Winning Policy Campaigns

The key to successful community organizing is a strong foundation of information, an understanding of the community and local governments, a strategic campaign plan and a lot of committed community members. Attendees to this training will learn the tools for an effective campaign, including the Five Phases of a Campaign and how to complete a Midwest Academy Strategy Chart (MWASC). This is an interactive session and includes several activities. Participants will be ready to jump into a new campaign and to adjust their plans as challenges develop.

Policy 101

This session briefly covers potential local policies including tobacco retailer licensing, multi-unit housing, and/or smokefree outdoor air. Potential resources for model ordinance language, information on communities that have passed similar policies, and how to address opposition questions are also covered. The session also introduces the State of Tobacco Control as a policy and organizing tool. Participants will learn the difference between educating and lobbying which is especially important for tobacco tax funded groups.

Tobacco Retailer Licensing

This session walks through the basics of a tobacco retailer licensing (TRL) ordinance, including the four components that make for a strong TRL. Information on additional plug-ins like restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products, minimum pack size and price, retailer density, and pharmacies. The training includes examples of model ordinance language and the importance of passing strong TRL policies. Click here to view a list of existing TRL policies. Participants will gain knowledge on how to address common opposition questions and arguments against TRL policies.

Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing

This session explains the various components of a smokefree multi-unit housing (MUH) policy and highlights the importance of passing city/county policies versus voluntary policies. The training includes examples of model ordinance language and details on what makes a strong policy. This training will also explore trends throughout California in adopting these policies. Click here to view a list of smokefree housing policies. Participants will gain knowledge on how to address common opposition questions and arguments against MUH policies.

Smokefree Outdoor Air

This session details smoking restrictions for various outdoor areas including entryways, recreation areas, service areas, public events, and dining areas. The training examines the current California state law smoking restrictions and the need to pass strong smokefree outdoor air (SFOA) policies on a local level for added protection. This training will also explore trends throughout California in adopting these policies. Participants will gain knowledge on how to address common opposition questions and arguments against SFOA policies.

Opposition Research

This session will look at the ways in which to conduct opposition research in preparation for your new campaign. We will provide a step by step process for looking up industry contributions, finding background on those who you think will be organizing against you, and how to best use this information in future phases of the campaign.

Phase 2: Strategy & Planning

Completing a Midwest Academy Strategy Chart for a Specific Policy Campaign & Jurisdiction

This session will put community organizing theories into action by utilizing the Midwest Academy Strategy Chart, which will create a strategic and effective road map for your campaign. During the workshop, the coalition will complete the Strategy Chart, Decision Maker Matrix, and Circles of Influence. This training usually lasts three to four hours.

The Legislative Process

This session will look at the steps required to successfully adopt a policy in your community so that coalition members are ready for the campaign ahead. Members of the Center team will conduct research prior to the training to learn the ins and outs of policy adoption in your community and come prepared to educate your coalition on the process.

Phase 3: Recruitment

Recruiting and Retaining Coalition Members

As the campaign moves into Phase 3, more emphasis and time should be spent strategizing about recruitment and coalition building. This session will teach attendees how to recruit the right coalition members to create a powerful coalition. Included in this interactive session will be tips on storytelling and on pitching a campaign to others. There will also be a focus on retaining and engaging existing coalition members, including how to make the most out of your coalition meetings.

Phase 4: On the Ground Campaign

Understanding Tactics and Being More Strategic

There are many different ways to run a campaign based on what resources and how much time is at the coalition’s disposal. This session will go over how to develop strategic tactics that work with the activities and resources outlined in your workplan.

Presenting to Elected Officials

As attendees go through this session, they will determine appropriate messaging for their policy objective. They will have the opportunity to practice presenting at a city council or board of supervisors meeting and speaking one-on-one to decision makers by conducting role-plays. The session will also highlight the importance of storytelling throughout a campaign’s tactics.

Refining Your Messaging

This session helps attendees craft messages for their policy issue into one succinct message for the community they are working in. Attendees will complete a message box activity, practice storytelling, and role-play pitching these messages to potential coalition members and decision makers.

Additional Information


The length of each training will vary. Typically, our community organizing trainings last two to four hours. Often our policy trainings last one hour.


Because these sessions are tailored to your community, we need at least 30 days’ notice to plan a session.

Contact us to request a training.