Cari Morales, a recent graduate from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, will put her education into action this summer by launching a career in community organizing with the Direct Action and Research Training (DART) Center.
The DART Center is a national network of congregation-based community organizations working to promote justice and fairness. Morales is one of eighteen individuals selected from a pool of more than 830 applicants to the DART Organizers Institute, a field school designed to train a new generation of community organizers.
The Institute’s four-month curriculum, offered bi-annually, begins with an intensive online classroom training on the fundamentals of organizing. Following this classroom training, Organizer Fellows are trained in the field to build networks within congregations to take action on local justice issues. After their in-field training, Fellows are placed into permanent positions with one DART affiliate organization.
Ben MacConnell, DART’s Recruitment Director, summarizes the program and why Morales was selected from so many applicants, “We scour the country for individuals with hard-to-find personality traits like passion for justice and a strong work ethic. And then we give them the skills and training to launch a career tackling serious issues as community organizers. Cari has a track record of standing up for those who are most vulnerable in our society and young leaders with that kind of conviction are a rare find.”
Morales graduated in May with her B.A. Policy Analysis from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs with a minor in Spanish. During her time at IU, she was involved in the Latino Youth Collective, Indiana Latino Leadership Conference planning committee, Latino Enhancement Corporative, DREAM IU, Campecine Youth Academy, the Kelley Student Diversity Council and the Global Business Brigades to travel to Panama to work with micro-enterprises. She was also a teacher’s assistant at the Harmony School, a Resident Assistant and CommUNITY Educator with Residential Programs and Services.
Morales explains that she has learned through her experiences “One voice itself can be powerful, but when many voices come together to fight for a common cause, the strength and power that come from that collective voice is indestructible.”She goes on to say, “I have always wanted to help where I am most needed and I believe that community organizers have a large demand with a limited supply.”
Morales first learned about the DART Center from Professor Lilian Casillas, a Scout for the DART Organizers Institute and a Spanish Language Professor at Indiana University.
More Information about the DART Center
The Direct Action and Research Training (DART) Center, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It grew out of two grassroots community groups in South Florida. One was an organization of African-American churches that developed after the 1980 riots in Miami. The second was a coalition of Senior Citizen groups addressing concerns affecting low-moderate income seniors. The leadership and staff of both organizations, in addition to national church leaders, were convinced that the organizing successes of these two groups were transferable to other communities where there was interest in building similar organizations.
Since its inception, the DART Center has developed nineteen metropolitan, grassroots, community organizations spread throughout five states. Each DART organization is composed of local congregations committed to building a powerful, diverse, broad based, multi-issued, and democratically run organization. A proven strength within the DART Network is its ability to bring people from a variety of racial, economic, and religious backgrounds into collaborative public action on behalf of their communities. Currently, each affiliate’s largest base of support comes from churches, synagogues, and other faith-based institutions in low-moderate income areas. DART organizations throughout the United States have won victories on a broad set of issues including reading instruction and fair school suspension policies in public schools, new pre-school programming for kids from low-income communities, cleanup of drugs and crime, multimillion dollar investments in an affordable housing trust funds, expansion of community-oriented policing, commitments to reform and expand indigent health care, and dozens of other issues important to low-income communities.