Arena Academy - FAQ

Arena Academy is a best-in-class training for current and aspiring campaign staff, with a focus on training women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re looking to start or supercharge your career in politics, Arena Academy is for you. Ready to take the first step? Here is a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about Arena Academy.

Academy Basics

  • When: Arena holds 2 -3 Arena Academies each calendar year
  • Where: In-Person and online
  • Who: 200+ current and aspiring campaign staffers
  • What: Participants take part in an immersive five-day learning experience, selecting one of seven tracks: Campaign Management, Communications, Data, Digital, Finance, Organizing, or Organizing Director. The entire experience culminates in the Arena Cup, a hands-on, experiential campaign simulation in which participants work together in teams to build a winning campaign plan

Here are a few frequently asked questions about Arena Academy.

Table of Contents

More Details

Who is the Academy designed for?

Arena Academy is for anyone who wants to learn how to work on a Democratic campaign. This includes current and aspiring campaign managers, communications, data, digital, finance, and organizing staff. Participant tracks will be tailored to these roles, but all will incorporate a heavy emphasis on leadership and management.

What happens at the Academy?

To get a good sense of the full experience, read stories from our previous Arena Academies on our blog:

Here’s a video recap from our first Arena Academy in Des Moines, Iowa:

How much does the Academy cost?

Arena Academy registration costs $300.

Are there scholarships?

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 protected].

What does the scholarship cover?

For trainings held online via Zoom, 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.

Which track should I do?

Our five-day intensive training program focuses on equipping you with the skills and knowledge you need to be successful in a specific role. But 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. You’ll pick from one of seven training tracks, including:

Campaign Manager: Campaign Managers are the chief strategists and the heart of every campaign. They work alongside amazing candidates. They manage a team to achieve victory come Election Day. This track walks through every part of a campaign — from launch to the last counted ballot. At Academy, expert strategists guide you through crafting a pathway to victory, budgeting, fundraising, communications, and more. You’ll gain the skills and knowledge to pull it into a winning campaign plan in each session. Then in the Arena Cup, you will put your new knowledge to work by leading a team with members of other tracks to build a winning campaign plan during a 24-hour competition. This track will help you take that next step in becoming a confident leader in campaigns. Applicants for this track should have prior campaign experience or relevant transferable experience.

Communications: Communication staff play a central role in crafting a campaign’s core messaging, running the press shop, and directing the rapid response. In Arena’s Communication track, you’ll learn how to tell your candidate’s story and the story of what’s happening on the campaign to the press. Arena believes that great communications professionals are excellent storytellers and calculated strategists. This track will give you the fundamentals to develop a holistic communications plan. Then, with your new comms know-how, you will join members from other tracks to craft a winning campaign plan in the Arena Cup, a 24-hour competition. Whether you’ve worked on a campaign before or have transferable skills from another industry, this track will give you the practice and the tangible skills you need to help campaigns communicate their message.

Data: Data staff on campaigns manages systems and develops analyses that help reach voters. The work of data staff can ensure that resources and know-how make the biggest impact.  Arena believes that data should be actionable and drive people-focused campaign strategies. The data track teaches the necessary technical skills to analyze large data sets in an electoral context. This is an immersive experience where you will get an opportunity to write code (maybe your first line of code). As a part of the Arena Cup, a 24-hour competition, you will work with a team to incorporate analysis that informs a winning campaign plan. This track gives foundational knowledge for how campaigns work with and use data. This track is perfect for data practitioners looking to break into data within electoral politics. This track is also great for data-minded campaigners in non-data roles looking to level up their data know-how.

Digital: Digital allows us to reach voters in places they gravitate to in online spaces. Depending on the campaign, digital roles can take on different focuses or specializations. This track emphasizes building your strategic skills in paid media, running a paid media program, making creative for paid media, and evaluating if paid media is successful. The track highlights owned media, digital fundraising, digital reporting, and running email programs. You also get an opportunity to integrate digital as a team member crafting a campaign plan in the Arena Cup, a 24-hour competition. You leave this track with new technical skills and frameworks for thinking about and running effective digital programs to win elections.

Fundraising: Campaign fundraising staff are usually the first hired before a launch and last on payroll at the end of a campaign. Fundraising directors and assistants are some of the most in-demand roles in campaigns. The reason? This team raises the money that powers all other aspects of campaign operations. Fundraisers are often hired even before campaign managers. Arena believes in a relationship-based approach to fundraising. Through that lens, we cover the strategy and details of a successful finance department.  This track teaches you how to cultivate donors, manage call time, make a strong fundraising ask, and raise money online. In the Arena Cup, a 24-hour competition, you will also get experience working in a team to develop a fundraising plan and timeline. This track will help you understand how fundraising can help build winning campaigns.

Organizer: Organizers are the face of a campaign in the community. Organizers connect to voters online and in person. They create teams of dedicated volunteers to scale and amplify the campaign’s efforts. This track will teach you the skills you need to be a successful organizer in a digital world. You’ll learn how to develop and manage teams of volunteers to amplify the campaign’s message and move voters to the polls to vote for your candidate. Through the Arena Cup, a 24-hour competition, you will see the development of campaign strategy. You will work alongside an Organizing Director to develop a plan to recruit volunteer teams. Many campaign professionals get their start as organizers on campaigns. The best organizers come from all walks of life and bring a deep passion for their community to this work. The organizer track is a great place to start if you’re new to politics.

Organizing Director: Organizing Directors are both compassionate people managers and goals-driven data nerds. Organizing Directors set the strategy for the organizing program. They lead teams of organizers and volunteers to meet goals. This is oftentimes the largest department within a campaign. This track is for you if you want to step into a role managing the organizing program of a campaign. You’ll learn how to target voters, set goals, and manage a team of organizers to register, persuade, and turnout voters. You will work alongside other team members through the Arena Cup, a 24-hour competition, to develop a strategy and an organizing plan as a part of a larger campaign plan. 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.

Candidate: (offered at select Academies) Putting your name on the ballot is a huge step. As a candidate, you lead with vision and are the face of the campaign. In smaller local races, as a candidate, you take on more responsibilities in planning and executing your campaign. 

Run Academy is a unique opportunity to see the inner workings of a campaign.  Expert strategists guide you through pathway to victory, budgeting, fundraising, communications, and more.  You will also learn from past candidates and current elected officials about the hurdles they overcame on the way to Election Day. At Academy, candidates learn alongside future campaign managers, communications, data, digital, organizing, and finance professionals. You might even hire some of the staff you meet at the Academy. 

Candidates whose names are on the ballot in 2023 and 2024 will get the most from this track. This training will be particularly helpful for candidates “doing it all” themselves.  This training is not an endorsement of any candidate or campaign. Candidates who complete this program will not be endorsed by Arena.

What if I have other questions?

If you have other questions as you consider your decision, just email [email protected] or 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.

Event Logistics

What should I expect each day?

Each day, you can expect to participate in a comprehensive and challenging program, designed to prepare you for a staff position on a campaign. There will be a mix of track-specific and program-wide sessions. Days typically start at 11:00 a.m. EST and go until 6:00 p.m. EST, with some exceptions and optional evening programming. You can expect to be part of a dynamic, diverse, and thoughtful cohort of peers. You can expect to talk with and learn from some of the smartest political minds in the country. You can expect to be challenged, empowered, and asked questions.

What is the Arena Cup?

The capstone of Arena Academy is the Arena Cup, which allows you to put all you’ve learned into practice by coming up with a comprehensive campaign plan for a real district along with a team of people from other Tracks. The bulk of your work on the Arena Cup takes place on the fourth and fifth day of Arena Academy. Teams sometimes work into the evening to complete their work.

Will there be pre-work?

Yes. Most tracks will have pre-work and/or pre-reading, which you’ll receive approximately two weeks before Academy.

Will there be free time?

Yes. Each day will have at least two breaks, plus lunch, and you’ll be on your own most evenings with optional workshops and social events.

Will we receive the training materials?

Yes. Slides will be made available to participants after the course. You’ll be asked to join Arena Careers to have access. You can join ahead of time by creating a profile.

I’ve been accepted to Arena Academy, can I change tracks?

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.

I have a disability/need support or an accommodation.

We are committed to supporting all participants in their learning experience. If you need accommodation or support of any kind, please let us know on your application form or write to [email protected].

Will there be a virtual hybrid learning option?

No. We do not currently offer an online option for in-person events.

Post Academy

Will Arena Academy help me get a job?

We have placed Arena Academy graduates with 2,035 jobs on progressive campaigns or at progressive organizations. After attending Arena Academy you will gain access to a variety of services and support through our talent program including resume workshops, networking, one-on-one career coaching, and Arena recommendations when applying to jobs.

What kind of support exists for grads after completion of Arena Academy?

Be sure to join Arena Careers, our free platform to match job seekers with campaigns and progressive organizations. With more than 10,000 active users, including many of the 2,035 Arena-trained staffers, the majority of whom are women and people of color, we function like a LinkedIn for politics and break down traditional barriers to progressive hiring.

You also gain access to unique one-on-one and group support from the Arena Careers team. After the training, you can join trainings and request job search coaching including resume review and interview preparation, or coaching to help you navigate your current role. Staffers trained at Arena Academy have worked in more than 2,035 roles on campaigns and in progressive organizations

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We need your support.

Republicans have spent decades cultivating talent and investing for the long run, and right now we’re paying the price. Republicans control 30 state legislatures, 28 governors mansions, and are just a few seats away from regaining control of Congress. Together with an activist Supreme Court, they’re enacting policies that turn back progress on everything from abortion to voting rights to climate change. 

Arena is building a new generation of political leaders who will lead the fight to save our democracy and build progressive power for the long run. It’s going to take all of us to make change. Join us in this work.

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Stay up to date with news and resources from the Arena community

By providing your cell phone number you consent to receive periodic updates from Arena, including automated text messages and phone calls. Txt HELP for help, STOP to end. Msg & Data rates may apply. See our Privacy Policy.