The BCLI curriculum is designed to help Fellows establish a foundation of knowledge and skills they can draw upon throughout their careers. Fellows will gain: 

  • Deep knowledge and integrated perspectives on transportation, land use, economic development, and health equity as they affect low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Effective communication skills, including skills to negotiate, persuade, and build and maintain strategic alliances.
  • Historic and current context to understand both the structural and informal power dynamics of regional and local governments.
  • Best practices from veteran advocate commissioners.      
  • Tools and techniques to effectively serve on commissions.
  • Networking opportunities with elected officials, appointed commissioners, alumni, and staff.

Knowledge Foundations 

Knowledge Foundations establish the theory, context, application, and integration of key issues affecting low-income communities of color. Each month is dedicated to a topic, and includes a webinar and readings (to establish baseline understanding), a Knowledge Integration session (to practice application through role plays, case studies and simulations), and a Current Issues Panel (to apply frameworks to current challenges and opportunities). 

  • Land Use, Gentrification, and Anti-Displacement
  • Economic and Workforce Development & Labor
  • Transportation Justice
  • Affordable Housing
  • Health Equity

Race and Class Analysis 

Race and Class Analysis examines the region’s political players, context, and history for low-income people of color, a perspective that’s woven throughout the six-month training. We examine the power dynamics of Bay Area politics through a race and class lens during Power Mapping sessions. The Art of Politics explores the human experience and the expression of race and class as they relate to values, relationships, community, leadership, power, and privilege. 

Political Skills

Political Skills builds political and technical knowledge and skills for effective commission service. Traditionally marginalized leaders often don’t feel confident voicing their views on commissions unless they know the “rules of the game.” The BCLI provides Fellows with a foundation in Parliamentary Procedure, offering both baseline information and deep practice through role-played simulations of commission meetings. Fellows become familiar with conflicts of interest, the Brown Act, and ethical and legal dilemmas. BCLI Fellows also learn the basics of municipal budgeting and practice making budgetary decisions. 

Strategic Network

Strategic Networks open up new relationships for our Fellows and alumni, both inside and outside the political system. We encourage labor, faith, community, government, and business groups to work together in new ways to advance progressive policy. We compose BCLI cohorts that bring in complementary networks, engage trainers and speakers from across sectors, and invite diverse audiences to our public events. Our highly engaged alumni and trainer network leverages relationships for the success of our cohort, expanding everyone’s access to opportunities and expertise. 

Facilitated Professional Learning Community

We believe that all members of our community are both teachers and students. The BCLI is designed as a Professional Learning Community, which actively engages participants in building and sharing knowledge and skills. Using this approach, our Fellows develop confidence in the value of their life experiences, and strengthen relationships among our network of Fellows, alumni and trainers.

Flipped Classroom

Adult learning theory suggests that spending more in-class time on interaction and application leads to greater retention. BCLI uses webinars and our online learning platform to provide baseline information, so that Fellows can pace when and how they absorb new information. In-person classroom sessions on Saturdays and Wednesdays focus on integrating and applying knowledge through activities, group discussions, and role-playing. 

Curriculum Design: An Iterative, Collaborative Process

While certain key modules are standardized from year-to-year, we develop curriculum in an ongoing, iterative process in collaboration with field experts and partners. First BCLI staff set learning objectives, an educational structure and a process for dynamic learning; then we collaboratively design curriculum with experts among our Fellows, alumni, partners and collaborators. Each year, the curriculum is evaluated and refined, with input from Fellows, alumni, trainers and staff.