Arena Academy is our flagship training program for new and seasoned campaign staff. Over five days, you’ll learn to build values-driven, strategic, winning campaigns alongside a diverse and supportive community of learners. We’ll teach you effective management and how to build inclusive teams, while sharpening your skills in campaign management, communications, data, digital, fundraising, or organizing. Best of all, you’ll get to put your new skills to the test in the Arena Cup!
Your Arena Academy Journey
Learn more about your Arena Academy journey from application to career support.
How to Apply
Ready to attend Arena Academy? The first step is to apply! The application provides space to tell us about your passions and professional goals. We want to hear about what makes you unique, what you hope to gain from Arena Academy, and your aspirations as a change agent. You’ll also be asked to select one of seven tracks: Campaign Management, Communications, Data, Digital, Fundraising, Organizing, or Organizing Director. Heads up: You’ll need to submit a pdf of your resume as part of the application. Read our application guide for more tips!
Cost and Scholarships
Tuition for Arena Academy is $300, but we never let cost be a barrier to entry. Arena offers a wide range of scholarships to ensure that anyone who is accepted to Arena Academy can attend. The majority of past participants have received a full or partial scholarship, and in our commitment to build an inclusive community, we also offer childcare grants. Scholarship need does not impact acceptance. We’ll ask you to apply for scholarships as a part of your application.
Before the Training
Prior to Arena Academy, you’ll start to get to know the Arena team, our trainers, and your cohort via email and Slack. We’ll provide opportunities for you to request accessibility accommodations and tips for a successful training, including reminders to block your calendar and request time off from work, if needed. We’ll also prompt you to complete some short pre-work and attend optional pre-training sessions, such as Campaigns 101, our intro course for campaign novices.
During Arena Academy you will attend a mix of small group sessions with your track and plenary sessions with the entire cohort of 200-300 people. Plenary sessions cover the topics that all good campaigners need to know, and offer the opportunity to learn and collaborate with a broad range of participants across tracks. Past plenary sessions have included: Beyond Unconscious Bias, Finding Your People, Combating Disinformation, Cyber Security, and Management in an Electoral Environment.
Track sessions are where you dig deep on a particular set of campaign skills. The tools and strategies you’ll learn will differ depending on whether you’re in the Campaign Management, Communications, Data, Digital, Fundraising, Organizing, or Organizing Director Track—and that’s the point. You’ll come away from track sessions ready to get hired for a specific campaign role and with a cohort of peers to learn from and lean on. You’ll also have a track lead to guide your cohort and act as a mentor. Learn more about each track.
The Arena Cup
It wouldn’t be a campaign training without a little competition. Arena Academy culminates with the Arena Cup—a 24-hour contest to build the best mock-campaign plan. This interactive, fun experience is a chance to put your new skills to the test. Guided by a coach, you’ll work with a team of participants from across all seven tracks to craft a path to victory for a mock candidate in a real district. Your team will have 15 minutes to present your plan in front of a panel of experienced judges, who will score you and provide constructive feedback. At the end, one team is crowned Arena Cup champions! 🏆
After the Training
After graduating from Arena Academy, our Arena Careers team is there to help you navigate your career in politics. Whether you’re working to land your first-ever role or score that big job you’ve been dreaming of, we’re here to help. Learn more about our career services.
Arena Academy Tracks
At Arena Academy, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of how to win campaigns while also digging deep on a particular set of campaign skills in your track. In your application, you select your top two track choices. Learn more about each track here, and if you’re not sure how your skills best translate to a campaign job, check out our Campaign Skills Translator Tool.
Campaign managers are the chief strategists and the heart of every campaign. They ensure effective coordination of the campaign’s money, messaging, and mobilization to achieve victory. Campaign managers are not just leaders, but also excellent communicators who ensure that everyone is on the same page, working towards the common goal of victory.
On this track, you’ll learn how to be a strategic leader during every part of a campaign—from launch to the last counted ballot. During your sessions, you’ll learn to build a pathway to victory, develop a core message, fundraise, and manage a budget. Great campaign managers are adept at iterating based on research and empowering teams to run values-driven campaigns—at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
Past participants on this track have gone on to manage campaigns up and down the ballot, hold political director or program manager roles at movement organizations, and work as political consultants.
Applicants for this track should have prior campaign experience or relevant transferable experience.
Meet Kaitlin who took the Campaign Manager Track
Communications staff are the voice of the campaign. They are responsible for crafting and amplifying the campaign’s core messaging, running the press shop, and directing the rapid response. Communications staff are not just effective storytellers; they are savvy strategists ensuring the campaign’s message reaches and persuades key voters.
On this track, you’ll learn how to craft strategic communications plans to win campaigns. During your sessions, you’ll learn to create a message box, prepare your candidate to be an effective communicator, handle rapid response, and use research to shape your strategy. Great communications staff are nimble and values-driven—at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
Past participants on this track have gone on to hold roles such as researcher, press secretary, director of communications, and content creator on campaigns and with movement organizations.
Meet Randy who took the Communications Track
Data staff are the conductors of a campaign. They hold the critical responsibility of harnessing data to target and engage key voters, and play a central role in crafting the pathway to victory. Data staff analyze information to provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of voter turnout efforts. Data staff are not just good with analytics and numbers; they are strategic thinkers and effective storytellers.
On the Data Track, you will learn how to effectively analyze large data sets in an electoral context. During your sessions, you will learn to build a pathway to victory, manage data, target voters, and use SQL, Google Sheets, and Google Studio to win campaigns. You might even write your first line of code! Great data staff are skilled at crafting people-centered and data-informed strategies—at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
Past participants on this track have gone on to hold roles such as voter file manager, data director, and analytics director on campaigns and with movement organizations.
Meet Tarah who took the Data Track
Digital staff are the connective tissue of a campaign. They are responsible for overseeing strategy and content across digital platforms, including email and social media. They play a central role in crafting strategy and executing tactics to raise money and persuade and mobilize voters, including through digital ads. Digital staff are not just savvy creatives; they are strategic thinkers who know how to combine data and storytelling to win campaigns.
On the Digital Track, you learn how to craft digital strategy that reaches donors, volunteers, and voters in the right place at the right time. During your sessions, you’ll learn to create effective paid media campaigns, budget for your digital program, raise money online, and tell powerful stories. Great digital strategists know how to meet people where they are and communicate a cohesive, values-driven message no matter the platform—at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
Past participants on this track have gone on to hold roles such as content creator, digital director, email director, paid media director, digital ads buyer, media planner, social media manager, and digital organizer on campaigns and with movement organizations.
Fundraising staff power campaigns. They are responsible for raising the funds that campaigns need to operate. Fundraising staff play a central role in identifying prospective donors and converting them into campaign supporters through events, phone calls, and other solicitations. Fundraisers are not just skilled at making the ask for donations; they are savvy storytellers and connectors of people.
On the Fundraising Track, you will learn how to effectively raise money for a campaign. During your sessions, you will learn to craft a fundraising plan, track cash flow, and make the most of call time and fundraising events. Great fundraisers strategically use data and messaging to bring new people into the campaign—at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
Past participants on this track have gone on to hold roles such as call time manager, finance director, and digital fundraiser on campaigns and with movement organizations.
A note of encouragement: To work in fundraising, you do not need to have a rolodex of donors at your disposal. Fundraising roles are in high demand and are often the first role hired and the last role on the payroll. Organizing skills are highly transferable to this position.
Meet Adrian who took the Fundraising Track
Organizers are the face of a campaign in the community. They are responsible for creating teams of volunteers who can connect with and mobilize key voters. Organizers are not just effective at talking to voters and volunteers; they are savvy data miners and community builders.
On the Organizing Track, you’ll learn how to cultivate and lead teams of volunteers, enabling you to persuade voters and turn them out to the polls. During your sessions, you’ll learn to tell your personal story, make the hard ask, write effective voter-contact scripts, and integrate relational organizing into your campaign. Great organizers are culturally competent and lay the groundwork for lasting progressive change—at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
Past participants on this track have gone on to hold roles such as organizer, digital organizer, and canvasser. Many people get their start in politics as an organizer.
Organizing Directors are the backbone of every campaign. They are responsible for developing the overall organizing strategy to engage and mobilize voters and manage teams of organizers, ensuring the implementation of the strategy on the ground. Organizing directors aren’t just impactful organizers; they are data strategists who are skilled at empowering people to meet goals while building lasting relationships.
On the Organizing Director Track, you will learn to prepare, hire, train, and manage a team of organizers that delivers victory for your campaign. During your sessions, you will learn how to develop a pathway to victory, establish metrics and set goals, write an organizing plan, and adjust your plan as new information becomes available. Great organizing directors are compassionate managers who use data and research to inform their plan—at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
Past participants on this track have gone on to hold roles such as organizing director, regional organizing director, and program manager on campaigns and with movement organizations.
Applicants for this track should have served at least one cycle as an organizer—on a campaign or in any advocacy, electoral, or community-based organization.
Meet Jack who took the Organizing Director Track
At select Arena Academies, we offer Run Academy, a training for down ballot candidates.
Candidates are the driving force and public face of a campaign, and often in local races, candidates take on the responsibilities of planning and executing campaign strategy and tactics. Candidates aren’t just powerful speakers and policy experts; they know how to work with their team to make the most of their campaign’s resources.
During Run Academy, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of a campaign and the unique opportunity to train alongside other candidates and campaign staff. You spend your time learning from industry experts and past candidates. During your sessions, you’ll learn how to craft a pathway to victory, raise money, and execute paid media tactics. Great candidates empower their campaign team to be their best selves—at Arena Academy at Arena Academy, we make sure you leave with this know-how.
This training is not an endorsement of any candidate or campaign. Candidates who complete this program will not necessarily be endorsed by Arena.
Meet Krista who attended Run Academy
Arena trainers are a diverse, creative, and strategic group of practitioners who’ve led winning campaigns up and down the ballot. You’ll learn from and connect with leaders who understand and support your passions, aspirations, and values.INTERESTED IN TRAINING WITH ARENA? FILL OUT THIS INTEREST FORM
Alexandria CoburnNational Radical Education Field Manager, Working Families Party
Carli StevensonAssistant Director of Communications, Politics for SEIU
Catherine KahleDeputy Chief Technology Officer, DNC
Cayana Mackey NanceVice President of Digital, EMILYs List
Jade TackaHead of Development, Swing Left
Jose NuñezNational Organizing Director, DNC
Dr. Kira BanksProfessor of Psychology and co-founder of the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, Saint Louis University
Kayci MoodieNational States and Organizing Director, NextGen
Luis ÁvilaPresident, Iconico
Regina MongeFormer Campaign Manager, Jessica Cisneros for Congress
Ruby SarronTraining Director, ActBlue
Ryanne BrownDigital Paid Media Director, Priorities USA
Sarah BlahovecCo-Founder and President, Disability Victory Fund
Sean WardExecutive Director, New Mexico Democratic Party
Shripal ShahPartner, Lefthook Strategy
Stephanie MedinaDeputy Director, Partner Engagement, ZINC Collective
Terry BermeaExecutive Director, Battleground Texas
The Arena Academy Impact
Frequently Asked Questions
Arena holds two to three Arena Academies each calendar year, some of which are held in person, and others of which take place online. Regardless of whether you train with us in person or online, you can expect to be in the company of 200+ current and aspiring campaign staffers who are excited about leveling up their skills.
Arena Academy is for anyone who wants to learn how to work on a campaign. Past participants have come from a wide array of backgrounds including experienced campaign staffers, new graduates, and career-changers of all ages.
Yes, you can apply. We consider applicants at all levels of campaign experience, including those seeking to switch industries.
Arena Academy registration costs $300.
Yes! Arena ensures that financial need is never a barrier to participation, and two-thirds of Arena Academy participants receive some form of scholarship. Just complete the scholarship section of the application. If you’re accepted, we’ll let you know what level of scholarship we’re able to offer. If you have other questions as you consider your decision, just email email@example.com.
For trainings held online, the scholarship will cover the $300 registration fee. In the past, we’ve also offered childcare and technology grants. Participants are eligible to apply for this additional support once they’ve been accepted into Arena Academy.
For trainings held in-person, scholarships cover travel expenses and lodging in addition to the registration fee. In the application, there’s a section where you can share more about your scholarship needs. We’ll let you know what level of scholarship you receive upon admittance.
Review the track descriptions above and decide which track seems like the best fit for you based on your interests and experience. Regardless of the role for which you’re training, all of our curriculum includes a heavy emphasis on management, leadership, and digital and data literacy.
Yes. Each day will have at least two short breaks, a lunch break, and optional workshops and social events in the evenings. However, Arena Academy will take up most of the day, and you should expect to take off work during this training.
Yes. Slides will be made available to participants after the course.
Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate requests to change tracks once you’ve been accepted. The application process is extremely competitive, so we carefully assemble each track, considering each participant’s background and future goals. But trust us, whichever group you land in, you’ll have top-notch trainers and a cohort of like-minded peers.
We are committed to supporting all participants in their learning experience. If you need a disability accommodation or support of any kind, please let us know on your application form or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. We do not currently offer an online option for in-person events, or vice versa.
If you have other questions as you consider your decision, just email email@example.com. Alternatively, if you receive a text message from our team about your application, just text back. We’re a small team and will get back to you as soon as possible.