Grand Traverse Advocate Academy

 “Now that I know, I am going to do something about it!” 

– 2018 graduate, William White

2020 Academy is in session

The academy is an opportunity to develop a greater understanding of how decisions shaping your community are made and how to impact them positively. At the end of the program, graduates can tackle that needed sidewalk extension, safer crosswalk, protected bike lane, or park in need of some love in their neighborhood. Graduates also build lasting connections to other advocates – natural allies for future campaigns!


The Advocate Academy is an in-depth introduction to place-based advocacy. The curriculum empowers participants to find and apply their voice. Graduates end the course as knowledgeable, confident, and capable leaders. The 2020 graduates will join 24 alumni from the 2018 and 2019 programs. These are the leaders building stronger, better connected, and enjoyable neighborhoods and communities in the Grand Traverse region.


  • Problem Identification – Harnessing observation skills to identify and document issues constructively.
  • Connecting Decisions – Connecting the impact of policy, budgets, and planning on our communities are shaped.
  • Compelling Narratives – Honing one’s own story and the story of a group for persuasive messaging.
  • Real-World Application – Participants choose an opportunity in the community, form a project team, then develop a plan for positive change. 

Classwork is a combination of project-based teamwork, individual reading, and writing. We might even have a quiz or two – but, don’t worry, no one’s keeping score!


  • When: 2020 Advocate Academy begins February 6 and meets weekly on Thursdays at 5:45 PM for six 90-minute sessions. 
  • Where: Groundwork Center conference room. The third floor of 148 E Front St. Traverse City.
  • Cost: $35 per participant. If you have an interest in a scholarship, please let us know at *
  • Criteria to apply: We ask that you have a commitment to attend six sessions. A minimum of 5 sessions is needed to receive your Advocate Academy certificate.

*If you’re interested in contributing to the scholarship fund to help keep this program accessible to everyone, you can donate at our scholarship page.

This year’s Advocate Academy is once again a partnership with Groundwork Center’s Mobility Lab. Norte’s Advocacy Director, Gary Howe, will team up with Groundwork Center’s Deputy Director, James Bruckbauer, to facilitate the six-week course. 

By the end of the Academy graduates are prepared to help lead an effort for positive change in their community. Let’s do this!

This year’s Advocate Academy is in partnership with Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities and is it made possible through the generous financial support by the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation.