Call for Submissions

YWCA of the Greater Capital Region and YWCA NorthEastern NY invite community groups and organizations, local political leaders, and activists for social change to submit proposals for breakout sessions to be presented at the inaugural Stand Against Racism: Civic Engagement Symposium. It is to be held on Saturday, August 4, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the University at Albany Lecture Center. The submission deadline is Thursday, July 12, 2018Click here to download the breakout proposal submission form.

Stand Against Racism (SAR) is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities. This campaign is one part of the larger national strategy to fulfill YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism. The theme of the 2018 SAR campaign is Civic Engagement.

For many, the term “civic engagement” refers only to voting, yet it is a much larger body of work. Defined as working to make a difference in communities through both political and non-political activities, civic engagement addresses public concern and promotes a better quality of life for community members. That full breadth of work is important, because voting alone cannot create systemic change.

Voting rights and civic engagement are, and have always been, core components of racial justice work. Throughout American history right up through the present, voting has only been accessible as a privilege, and not a true civil right. Voter suppression remains a very real challenge for many marginalized communities. As civil rights are eroded for communities of color, we must work to support full access and engagement for women and girls of color in the political process.

Civic engagement is a powerful tool for eliminating racism. In fact, it is the one tool that disenfranchised groups consistently rely on to create a more representative democracy. While we can use this tool in a variety of ways, from acts of civil disobedience to serving on the school board, laws have been changed and communities have been empowered when community members dedicate their time to doing something for the greater good.

The hard work of ensuring communities can and do get out to vote is so important. But this work is best coupled with meeting the day to day needs of those communities through direct service, raising awareness on the issues that impact their lives most and advocating for policy change. Civic engagement is most powerful when the full spectrum of civic life is valued and all community members can choose how they’d like to participate.

 The goals of the 2018 Stand Against Racism: Civic Engagement Symposium include:

  • teach attendees about ways they can help create change both during and in between election cycles
  • help attendees understand why registering to vote and voting in elections, national or local, is important
  • provide attendees with information about how to run for elected office
  • make a call to action for youth to be involved in their communities to create change

Panel/Workshop Information

There will be 5-7 breakout sessions offered during each time slot at the symposium. Each session will be 50 minutes in length (depending on the format chosen, each session should allow for at least a 10 minute Q&A). Panels/workshops must be presented twice. Breakout Session #1 will be 10:30 – 11:20 a.m. and Breakout Session #2 will be 11:40 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Panel and workshop topics span a great variety of issues. Panels/workshops offer engaged forms of dialogue, debate and/or interaction between panelists/facilitators and audience and at times, have an activist, organizing or strategy making focus.

Some topics of breakout sessions that would be ideal for the symposium include, but are not limited to: getting youth involved in politics and activism, best practices for staying involved with issues after an election cycle, sorting through fact vs. fiction in media and candidate claims, discovering different ways to become civically engaged, how to organize efforts and take action.

In designing your panel or workshop, we ask you to try to ensure that panelists or workshop facilitators represent and engage diverse political standpoints on the identified topic and that panelists represent a range of political and cultural identities (e.g., race, gender, age, and class diversity) as this event is meant to make a stand against racism through civic engagement.

In order to accommodate as many panels, workshops, panelists and workshop facilitators as space will allow, we limit panelists/facilitators to participating in one panel or workshop. You may submit as many proposals as you wish. Requests for additional panel/workshop participation can be made by emailing Kerrie Wolf-Piechota and explaining your request.

If you have any problems submitting a proposal, please email Kerrie Wolf-Piechota or call 518-374-3394 x105. Submission Deadline: Thursday, July 12, 2018.

 Panel and Workshop Formats

We encourage a range of panel/workshop styles and panel chairing and workshop facilitation processes. These include:

  • Traditional Panel: This format has a chair person who provides an introduction for the speakers and the topic; facilitates the audience question and answer session; and mediates any disputes or similar occurrences. The chair can also function as a speaker. Indicating who is chairing just makes sure that somebody is moderating the whole discussion. Depending on the number of panelists, panel presentations should be timed to allow about half of the session for audience participation/a questions and answer period. One session is 50 minutes, so with four panelists, each should talk for no more than 6-7 minutes. It is the task of the chair to make sure that each speaker adheres to the amount of time they have been given. The panel organizer should let all speakers know in advance how much time they have. A similar form can designate a person or two in a discussant or respondent role. In this case the panel presentations should be fewer or shorter and the respondent can develop a critique, and/or raise pertinent issues and questions.
  • Roundtable or Moderated Dialogue: this format can include short presentations by all panelists, 5 minutes for example, followed by questions that engage panelists and/or allow them to interact with each other, and/or panelists can ask each other questions. This is followed by audience participation.
  • Workshop: this can vary from a format where a facilitator or group of facilitators involve all participants right away, e.g., through introductions and group dialogue focused on prepared questions, strategies or issues. It can include sessions focused on dialogues about civic engagement, training, and question and answer sessions. As with all other forms, workshop proposals need at least two people who commit to the workshop and who can facilitate the workshop.

Panel and Workshop – Registration of Participants

Panelists/speakers/facilitators do not need to register and pay unless you would like to do so. We do, however; invite all speakers and panelists to donate or sponsor an attendee through our scholarship program. Scholarships are for those individuals who cannot afford the registration fee.

Travel & Accommodation Costs: travel and accommodation costs for panelists/workshop participants are not covered.

Translators: translators for panelists and workshop participants cannot be provided at this time.


Click here to download the breakout proposal submission form.


Click here to register for the 2018 Stand Against Racism Symposium.
Click here to learn about the sponsorship opportunities available.

Thank you to our presenting media partner, Albany Broadcasting Company.

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