The SPIN Academy Story

The SPIN Academy strengthens non-profit organizations working for social change by teaching them to communicate effectively for themselves. The SPIN Academy provides accessible and affordable strategic communications training, individual coaching, networking opportunities, and other concrete communications tools. Drawing on a dedicated network of nonprofit communications professionals, we build the communications skills of social change advocates and build the capacity of grassroots organizations to accomplish their missions.

During the years the SPIN Academy has been offered, it has trained hundreds of nonprofit organization staff members from all fifty states working on a diverse set of issues, including human and civil rights, economic justice, education reform, racial justice, immigrant rights and immigrant integration, domestic violence prevention, environmental justice and environmental conservation, criminal justice reform, and reproductive health among others.

The SPIN Academy supports the professional development of nonprofit leaders at all levels, from newly hired communications associates to executive directors interested in building their communications skills. Today, communications savvy is a key requirement of almost every role in the nonprofit sector – whether it is fundraising, engaging policymakers, or serving clients. Because the SPIN Academy provides both a framework for strategic communications planning and sessions that dive into the latest developments in communications tactics, participants with widely varying levels of responsibility and experience benefit from the skills and ideas.

The SPIN Academy was founded in 1999 as the annual training conference of the SPIN Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building the communications capacity of social change organizations, and has been held every year since then, training hundreds of advocates in the building blocks of strategic communications for social change.

When the SPIN Project’s parent organization made plans to close the organization in 2011, longtime SPIN Project staff members Holly Minch and Heath Wickline, along with their colleague Alexis Weiss, made arrangements to ensure the SPIN Academy would continue. They set up a fiscally-sponsored project at Community Initiatives, a 501(c)(3) organization located in San Francisco.

The SPIN Academy is led by a dedicated team of independent consultants that plan and execute the events each year, providing their services at reduced rates because of their commitment to the SPIN Academy’s mission. An advisory committee made up of nonprofit communications experts helps shape the SPIN Academy’s curriculum, and governance is provided by the board of directors of Community Initiatives, our fiscal sponsor.

By bringing together a diverse group of participants and trainers, the SPIN Academy also creates a growing network of communicators with cross-sector connections and broad geographic reach to share best practices and build public support for the most issues pressing issues of our time.