Next Up is a national leadership program for young people age 18-32 who are committed to social, economic and environmental justice. Its goal is to build and support a network of people doing justice work in Canada in many sectors, and at different levels of leadership. People who are working boldly, strategically, and with intention, at times working together, to bring about systemic change. We value the unique experiences and insights from people from marginalized communities, and encourage applications from LGBTTQ+ people, Indigenous peoples, people of colour, low-income earners, the unemployed, and people with disabilities.
The Next Up program builds skills in leading others; in inspiring and mobilizing people toward a common goal. It provides participants with relevant knowledge and frameworks they can apply wherever they choose to make a difference. That could be in electoral politics or grassroots organizing, in the trade union movement or environmental movement, in an existing NGO, or in a new organization or initiative designed to strengthen social movements.
While Next Up is non-partisan (we've had people from various parties involved in the program), it is political. It seeks to train people who want to challenge unfair, exploitative, and oppressive systems of power. We are particularly keen to work with those who want to tackle the defining issues of our time -- inequality across its many dimensions and the climate crisis. The program seeks to bring an anti-oppression, intersectional, and decolonization framework to its training. Next Up is committed to addressing accessibility needs ethically and proactively, and with discretion.
Next Up hopes to catch people at the right point in their lives. In particular, people who have demonstrated a commitment to social change work, and who are now trying to figure out how to “make a life” doing this work. It is intended for those who want to step into leadership roles and are looking for support, training, and networks to make that transition. We want our alumni to be able to spend the bulk of their time doing this good work, and for a good long time.
Next Up seeks to foster diverse strategies that challenge the root causes of social, economic and environmental injustices; specifically exploitive and unsustainable economic systems, colonization, white supremacy and privilege, imperialism and cis-hetero-patriarchy. Although we recognize that we do not all share a vision on how best to do this, the program seeks to build solidarity among activists.
To do this, we explore various theories of change, diverse tactics and approaches to change work. We encourage critical dialogue and reflection, and aim to foster reciprocal and accountable relationships between participants, facilitators, and communities who are organizing for change. We spend time building skills on how to effectively engage others and build people power. We hold to a view that there are many ways to do this work and to work for justice. We embrace a notion of unity that does not require everyone to tow the same line.
We continually evaluate our work and adapt the program based on feedback from participants and alumni. The real power of Next Up is in the alumni network, which now numbers over 650 people.