2017 US Study Trip

United States, 2nd August - 16th August

Resistance, Populism and New Organising

Meet with the leaders of 35 to 45 of America’s most innovative campaigning and advocacy-oriented nonprofit and political campaigning organisations, foundations and funders, and attend Netroots Nation, the premier conference for America’s progressive movement.


  • 2-6 August: New York City, includes a free weekend;
  • 7-9 August: Washington, DC;
  • 10-13 August: Atlanta for Netroots Nation; and
  • 14-16 August San Francisco.

Get all the details in the FAQ below, and to express interest or ask questions, email our Deputy ED, Bec Wilson. Note that participants who apply and are accepted by 31 March get a $500 discount on the participation fee.

Why now?

The election of President Trump has driven soul searching, innovation and new or strengthened resistance movements across the US. From a new culture of protest, or a focus on state and local campaigns, or fab new digital tools to millions in unprompted donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, there is much to learn.

We’ll get to see first hand how civil society is responding. Learn what’s working and what isn’t. Understand who is adjusting to this new environment and who is being left behind. Get insight into what’s changed for funders and foundations, and what have pollsters, pundits and parties learned from the 2016 election. We’ll focus on what we can apply in Australia, with our own rising populism, attacks on civil society and unions, and growing group of unanchored voters.

Why should I go on this trip?

American campaigning has enormous scale, an experimental culture, established philanthropic support, and a huge range of diverse political and organizing groups, organisations and campaigns. There is nowhere like it to learn about the latest thinking in digital campaigning, fundraising, community mobilisation, voter engagement, message research, and more.

Come August, insiders and outsiders alike will have deep reflections and lessons learned from the 2016 election, as well as having tested the new approaches to resistance and policy change that are springing up now.

Over the two weeks of the trip you’ll be exposed to practical case studies you can replicate in your work, big picture ideas and trends you can tap into, and little tricks you can immediately adopt. It’s also not one-way learning: our American hosts are very interested in learning from you!

Who will we meet with?

On trips over the last three years we have met with groups like Black Lives Matter, the Sierra Club, New Media Ventures,,, Tides Foundation, SumofUs, the S.E.I.U, the AFL-CIO, Greenpeace International, World Vision USA, EarthJustice, the National Alliance of Domestic Workers, the Restaurant Opportunity Centre, The Levi-Strauss Foundation, Emily’s List, NARAL, the Democracy Alliance, the Centre for American Progress, the Working Families Party, and many many more. Approximately half the meetings are selected to meet the interests and requests of participants, and the other half determined by Australian Progress to ensure the most interesting, relevant and innovative interaction.

What is the cost?

There is a participation fee determined on a sliding scale from

  • $3500 + GST for organisations with an annual Australian staff budget of more than $3 Million;
  • $2500+ GST for those whose annual staff budget is $500,000 to $3 Million and individuals not aligned to any organisation; and
  • $1500 +GST for smaller organisations (limited places).

In addition, you or your organisation will need to cover your travel and accommodation costs, and conference fees.  As a guide only, in 2015, Australian Progress co-ordinated internal flights, transfers and accommodation and conference fees for some participants at a total cost of about $6,800. In addition, participants also covered their own transport between meetings and meals – sharing costs where appropriate.

Some participants chose to book their own hotels and flights, and reduced costs by choosing more distant accommodation and less convenient flight times.

Who will go on the trip?

The trip is strictly limited to 12 participants and will be lead by Nick Moraitis and Bec Wilson from Australian Progress. Participants will most likely be Executive Directors and others senior leaders from NGOs and elected officials or senior staff from major unions.

When do I need to decide? And how do I apply?

In order to go ahead with the trip, and secure the most affordable quality accommodation and internal travel, all participants must have applied and be accepted by mid-May.

To encourage early commitment, and allow us to secure the best prices for you on accommodation and internal travel, Australian Progress is offering a $500 discount on the participation fee for participants who apply and are accepted by 31 March.

To apply, email a short expression of interest to our Deputy Executive Director, Bec Wilson explaining what you want to get out of the trip, how you will ensure your organisation learns from your experience and a bit about your background. A few paragraphs should do it.

Do I have to be the head of my organisation to come?

We want a diverse group – but focus on CEOs, Executive Directors, and very senior staff so that lessons from the trip can be implemented at home. While past participants’ organisations have had diverse levels of comfort with new models of campaigning – the trip works best when everyone is hungry to soak up new ideas, and focused on action on returning home.

We strongly encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people of colour, recently arrived migrants, people who identify as LGBTIQA+, people with different abilities, and women leaders. Research shows us that leaders from these from more marginalised groups are less often supported by their organisations or funders to for training, events, travel and conferences. That has a learning, innovation and resilience cost to civil society organisations, and we hope to contribute to redressing it.

Check out the participants from our study tours in 2014 (meeting with Emily’s List) and 2015 (meeting with Black Lives Matter Founder Alicia Garza):

Emily's List Group Shot2015-07-27 19.15.11

What arrangements does Australian Progress make on my behalf?

The main thing is that Australian Progress will schedule all the meetings, which will sometimes include meetings during meals — and collate a regularly updated itinerary.

We will make one central set of 3/4-star hotel reservations in each location so we can (preferably) stay together. We do understand if individuals have a higher or lower budget and prefer to stay elsewhere (but we cannot assist with logistics if you do). We will also book domestic travel by train and plane as a group.

What arrangements am I responsible for?

You are responsible for organising your international travel to San Francisco and home from New York, visas, conference tickets and travel insurance.

We expect participants to recommend or request meetings that would be relevant for their work.

Do I have to attend the whole two weeks?

We strongly encourage you to come for the entire trip. However, if you choose to join us for just one or two legs of the trip, that is certainly fine. As the amount of work involved in arranging the program is fixed, the participation fee is the same regardless of how long you stay.

Is there any time off?

This year’s trip is shorter than previous years, which does mean less time “off” however, the first weekend of the trip in New York is completely free, and there are several travel days where you will also find time for your own meetings, sightseeing and a bit of break.

Australian Progress will organise a few social functions where you can meet local leaders and campaigners in a more relaxed environment and invite your own contacts.