The Sikh American community is geographically dispersed throughout the United States and has historically lacked a cohesive and coordinated network of grassroots activists. Although the Sikh Coalition has developed expertise in policy advocacy, this institutional knowledge needs to be shared with Sikh Americans in a systematic way so that they can effectively protect their interests at the grassroots level and assume leadership positions in their communities.
In 2011, the Sikh Coalition launched the first-ever Sikh Advocate Academy, a rigorous advocacy training program in Washington, DC focused on building the capacity of grassroots volunteers to engage with government officials, media outlets, and community groups in the cause of promoting civil rights. Over seven years, 65 Advocates participated in this training with participants required to pursue volunteer projects in support of the Sikh Coalition’s civil rights mission in their local communities.
In 2019, the Sikh Coalition decided to move away from hosting the training in Washington, DC and instead shift to a more tailored grassroots approach of bringing the robust training to Sikh communities in their home states. We were able to train 50 more advocates in a visit to Washington state in the first quarter of 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted all non-essential travel. In the future, we look forward to re-starting this state-based approach, so that we can continue to tailor advocacy trainings to meet the needs of local Sikh communities and train more Sikh activists nationwide. To learn more about the Sikh Coalition’s grassroots training curriculum, click here.
- advocates from across the country
- op-eds by community members
- + Actions & initiatives
From 2011 to 2019, 65 Sikh Advocate Academy graduates authored more than two dozen op-eds on civil rights issues; appeared on television and radio programs; led grassroots legislative initiatives; attended education conferences; collected hundreds of petitions in support of the Sikh Coalition’s Army Campaign; and secured endorsements for civil rights legislation from their elected representatives in the U.S. Congress. Graduates of the Advocacy Academy have even joined the Sikh Coalition as full-time staff.
Under the new model, our 2020 visit to Washington state resulted in numerous trainings, gurdwara listening sessions, and legislative visits to the state capitol–all done in concert with more than 50 community members. We look forward to continuing training more advocates in their own communities across the nation.
"After attending the Sikh Advocate Academy, I have finally gained the proper tools to keep up the Sikh tradition of fighting against injustice. The week-long training has equipped me with skills that I can utilize any day to achieve social justice and mobilize communities to act on human rights issues."
Sehaj Kaur, Sikh Coalition Volunteer Advocate