History and Mission:
In the Summer of 2020, TurnUp recognized that many youths were suddenly stranded in multiple ways due to the pandemic - their planned internships were closed down, jobs were lost, and social isolation was imminent, to name a few. With the 2020 elections on the horizon and ongoing and burgeoning social justice issues, TurnUp saw a moment- the time to start an innovative remote training program. This program met the crisis by bringing youth together into remote learning and activist teams, fostering their development of democratic competency, refining their activism efforts, all while being socially engaged and effecting progressive change.
The response to the Training Program’s inception was overwhelmingly positive, with more than 600 interns from around the world training through the 2020 summer and growing to over 1000 within the first year. The value of this program extended from the training of our interns and volunteers to significantly impact the social justice and political landscape. TurnUp organized by far the most significant youth voter turnout effort in Georgia and one of the largest nationwide. The TurnUp training program contributed to this success by providing 435 young people working 3000+ hours, completing 2000+ volunteer shifts. This initiative was in partnership with groups like the New Georgia Project for the January 2021 special election. The training program also organized and executed our innovative grassroots, on the ground, voter turnout efforts working in partnership with 9 Atlanta businesses reaching at least 4000 people.
In the future, into our second year, we believe that TurnUp’s Training Program will continue to make a positive difference in youths’ lives and in the resiliency of our democracy, even beyond the call of the pandemic. With our community, the TurnUp mobile app, and curriculum, we aim to continue contributing to youths’ professional development, creative potential, leadership ability, and social/emotional development, emphasizing an increase in self-knowledge and confidence.
Being in the Training Program:
Interns work within remote teams, guided by a curriculum designed to enhance their democratic competency and refine their activism efforts. This program offers a mix of collaboration and independent work and is run every week with team meetings and a new task to be completed each week. These tasks span a variety of areas, including participating in civic actions, working on voter turnout projects, performing targeted outreach, engaging in advocacy and activism, finding and participating in volunteer opportunities together, in addition to doing activism-related research, writing, and reflection.
The TurnUp app is central to the program as it facilitates many areas of the TurnUp Training Program. The app connects youth to educational resources, events, and each other. Additionally, some tasks are focused on efforts to expand the app’s impact.
Opportunities are ample for those who want to develop their leadership skills, exercise their creativity, or try their hand at project development. Those interested in taking their experience to another level will be invited and supported to join a specialized team, such as Graphic Design, Marketing, Briefing, and Social Media teams, or to apply for one of the numerous leadership roles, including Orientation Co-Director, Community Events Co-Director, Team Leader, General Team Director, or Speaker in our Intern Speaker Series.
A Speaker Series featuring experts in related fields fortifies our curriculum. At the same time, an Intern Speaker Series offers peer-to-peer learning by allowing interns/volunteers to discuss an area of their expertise or experience with the entire TurnUp community.
The training program’s curriculum is constantly evolving, refining, and responding to the changes in the social justice and political landscapes and in concert with the missions of the TurnUp Organization as a whole.
Most importantly, youth in the TurnUp Training Program will work together to advocate for issues important to young people, fight voter suppression and boost youth voter turnout. Upon completion, interns are prepared to go forward, being civically responsible and engaged activists.
“Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity! As my first internship experience, TurnUp will always remain one of my most unforgettable journeys, where I was able to meet lots of new people and participate in an abundance of impactful grassroots activities. I also learned how to phone-bank, text-bank, and draft emails to senators through the multiple grassroots tasks that we were given. My networking and teamwork skills also improved in general, as we constantly worked in teams and began reaching out to influencers as well in my last few weeks.
This placement has fueled my passion in civic engagement and activism, and serves as a great stepping stone for my future endeavors. I will continue using the app and sharing it as well. Once again, I am very grateful for this experience and want to thank everybody from the TurnUp team one last time!”
"I loved this internship and would most definitely recommend it to others who are interested in making a difference in the world!"
"When I first started I was shocked about how organized this organization was. I received all the support I needed and felt well integrated into the team. "
"At TurnUp I learned how powerful one voice can really be. Having participated in the Georgia elections by phone/text banking, I've seen how when people come together for a common cause, major changes can result. We are the future and working with TurnUp has given me hope for our generation."
-Yordanose (Denna) Sisay
"I learned a lot about grassroots activism and what it takes to begin a non-profit. I also had to step out of my comfort zone in some ways through outreach which was a valuable experience. I also gained an understanding of how activism through social media can make a huge impact."
"At TurnUp I learned how to lead a team, how to work with different teams, and how I can make a difference."
"I was able to expand my skills in social media marketing, especially through posting on different platforms that I was not familiar with before. Additionally, I learned how to conduct interviews and onboards, and manage a team effectively."
I learned a lot about how to reach a wider audience in terms of activism. I also developed ways to engage people in activism who might be struggling to take their first steps.
I learned teamwork, communication, and how to advocate for social justice issues I care about through phone banks, text banks, and the TurnUp app!
It was my introduction to the political world. I learned how to research, learned of various causes and learned how to communicate effectively.
TurnUp fostered an environment in which I could gain confidence in my abilities and rise to meet new challenges. Over the course of my internship, my responsibilities expanded to include innovative projects and more leadership opportunities. Working in such a fast-growing start-up allowed me to try my hand at an array of roles and develop a diverse skill set. I am very grateful for the breadth of experiences this program offered me!