Advocate Academy

See you in 2023


The academy is an opportunity to better understand how decisions shaping your community happen and how best to impact them positively. At the end of the program, graduates are more confident to tackle that needed sidewalk extension, safer crosswalk, protected bike lane, or neighborhood park in need of some love. Graduates also build lasting connections to other citizen advocates—natural allies for future campaigns.

Academy partners Groundwork Center, TART Trails, and Norte collaborate on a program developed to empower participants to find and apply their voices. Graduates end the program as knowledgeable, confident, and capable leaders.

Advocate Alumni are the leaders in building stronger, better connected, and more enjoyable neighborhoods and communities in the Grand Traverse region.


  • Session Schedule—Schedules are adjusted each year but typically run weekly 90-minute sessions, 5:30–7 pm, beginning early February. 
  • Registration Fee—$45. Scholarships are available upon request.
  • CapacityCapacity is 20 on a first-come, first-serve basis. Space is limited to ensure quality and facilitate discussion.

Norte is committed to ensuring that all programs are accessible to everyone who wishes to participate. If you’re interested in a scholarship to cover your registration fee, please email


  • Problem Identification – Harnessing observation skills to identify and document issues constructively.
  • Connecting Decisions – Connecting the impact of policy, budgets, and planning on our communities is 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, and develop a positive change plan. 

Classwork is a combination of project-based teamwork, individual reading, and writing.

The 2022 Advocate Academy is offered in partnership with Groundwork Center’s Mobility Lab and TART Trails.  Norte’s Advocacy Director, Gary Howe, teams up with Groundwork Center’s Deputy Director James Bruckbauer, Transportation Manager Carolyn Ulstad, and TART’s Trail Planner Amy Hartzog as facilitators. 


Advocacy Bootcamp – We can bring the Advocate Academy to your community as a Norte Advocacy Bootcamp These training sessions are customized for an organization or community. If interested in hosting an Advocacy Bootcamp, please email


Happy. Healthy. Strong.