21W Emerging Leaders Program Provides Tangible and Effective IRF Advocacy Skills

The future of religious freedom needs young, effective leaders who insert this human right to the forefront of policy. To empower emergent leaders, 21Wilberforce conducted interactive virtual training for 9 university students over three months. Participants, who are interested in promoting and protecting international religious freedom, met virtually for six weeks followed by a four day virtual practicum that concluded with two teams collaborating and presenting advocacy campaigns.

Course content delivered over six weeks included a case study of the Chinese Communist Party and its catastrophic impact worldwide, USCIRF activities and initiatives including Prisoners of Conscience, influencing policy makers, atrocity prevention, IRF Roundtable keys to success, and integrating religious freedom in foreign policy.

The EL four-day practicum content sessions covered Reforming Society: Wilberforce Principals of Leadership, Crafting Your Message, Influencing Policy Makers, Online Campaigning, and design an actual advocacy campaign.

The roster of leaders that conducted training included USCIRF Commissioners Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins, USCIRF staff Thomas Kraemer and Scott Weiner, Ambassador David Saperstein, IRF Roundtable Managing Co-Chair Greg Mitchell, Naomi Kikoler, Dir. Holocaust Museum’s Center for Genocide Prevention, Sarah Seitz, LD in the U.S. Senate, Rachel Wagley, LD in the U.S. House of Representatives, Activist Pamela Tsai and the 21Wilberforce staff.

Students were grateful to engage with IRF advocates throughout their 2020 Emerging Leaders experience. “I thought that the practicum was extremely organized for an online setting.” “I loved that the practicum culminated in a real advocacy experience.” “I feel like I know how to practically be an advocate now.” “Getting the hands-on experience was so helpful.”