Leadership Training

Leaders talking around table

Boards & Commissions Leadership Institute

Step Up Maryland is proud to partner with Urban Habitat to offer the Boards & Commissions Leadership Institute. BCLI curriculum has placed hundreds of local commissioners across the country and have been instrumental in changing policy to protect at risk communities. This six-month fellowship prepares Baltimore City activists & grassroots leaders to become effective advocates serving on a public board or commission.


Fellows work closely with seasoned trainers and local experts to understand the role of different boards  and how their impact on policy decisions historically and in the present. BCLI training brings race and class to the forefront of local and regional policies and plans. Fellows learn to use critical thinking to question who benefits and who is burdened by policy decisions, and develop solutions that integrate community participation and perspective. Fellows will also learn how race hone skills for power analysis, peer-to-peer relationship building, and organizing. 


We emphasize recruiting people from marginalized communities who have a proven track record of leadership and advocacy for social justice. They’re distinguished by a passion to change systems by learning the “inside game.” We invest deeply in the  cohort, training advocates how to understand complex and intersecting policy arenas, navigate the culture and language of commissions, and build effective relationships in and outside the commission. Step Up Maryland facilitates placement of fellows on boards based on their interests and capacity.


BCLI is open to residents of Baltimore City. Click here for the 2019 BCLI Application & Instructions. The next  BCLI cohort begins January 26, 2019. Check the Events page for training dates. 

Taking Power

Taking Power offers a primer on local, state and federal legislative process and practical guidance on how community activists and advocates can influence budget and policy decisions within these bodies. This leadership training can be paired with an issue briefing to prepare your group for the legislative session. (Program is offered in partnership with community organizations. Contact us if you would like to schedule a training for your group.)


Changing Our Choices

Talent scouts are an important part of entertainment, athletics, colleges and even business; these are the people on the lookout for the next MVP, CEO, and platinum artist. In this 4-hour training, we focus on developing "talent scouts" to find the next generation of great leaders from within our communities.


We'll discuss the roots of declining voter participation and growing frustration with choices at the ballot box. Participants develop a shared vision of what leadership looks like and work together to develop  criteria for "hiring" the leaders we want.  Finally, we'll discuss some of the real life barriers that prevent grassroots leaders from stepping up to take a more public role, and how to initiate conversations with prospects. Participants leave excited to scour their communities and armed with the know how to identify and recruit the next great leaders. 


This program is offered regionally and can be tailored for membership groups.  See training calendar or contact us to schedule a group training.

Step Up to Lead

This one-day program, offered in partnership with Wellstone Action, is for activist and others who want to play a bigger role in their community but aren't sure what's next, or how to get more involved. Participants will learn about opportunities for public service  at the local, county and state level and how they relate to advancing their agenda. Seasoned trainers will answer questions about time commitments, work-life balance, financial costs associated with leadership roles, expectations and overcoming real life obstacles to serve. 


The second half of the agenda will focus on honing powermapping, organizing and communications skills to position themselves for a more public role. Participants will leave with a personal plan and timeline to help them step up into leadership.  Check out the Events page to find the next training.

New Leader Boot Camp

The only program of its kind in the nation, the NLB is a six-month training program designed to give first time elected officials a headstart on being an effective legislator. Started in 2014, NLBC has grown tremendously with the help of our training partners at Local Progress, Wellstone Action. This year, we are excited add the State Innovation Exchange (SIX) as a training partner. The program is open to progressive leaders who will be on the ballot for the November General Election.


Nationally respected leaders help to develop and present curriculum, offering personal insight on issues and challenges of building consensus. Twelve sessions cover the inner workings of legislative bodies at the local and state level, as well as understanding the budgeting process.  Curriculum also covers setting up an effective office and constituent services operation, with an emphasis on community engagement in the legislative process.


Discussions of regionalism, race and equity feature prominently in this training, with a goal of building an understanding of their impact on policy - past, present and future. Through reading, discussion and exercises, participants will sharpen their racial equity lens and learn to apply it when considering policy proposals.


Participants work closely together to understand both the theory and practice of great leadership and build  problem-solving skills through case studies and projects.  Program encourages leaders to understand  and common challenges and collaborate to identify solutions. Through collaboration, cohort members build strong relationships that continue long beyond the training program, to become a base of support after leaders take office.