Non-profit

Midwest Academy

Website:

www.midwestacademy.com/

Location:

CHICAGO, IL

Tax ID:

36-2776406

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2020):

Revenue: $884,697
Expenses: $616,895
Assets: $748,674

Formation:

1973

Founder:

Heather Booth

Midwest Academy is a prominent national training center for left-of-center activists. It has hosted training sessions around the United States since its founding in 1973. [1]

The Academy claims to have trained more 25,000 activists across the United States involved in coalitions and organizations at the local, state, and national levels. Its training teaches activists how and why to organize, methods of protesting, and best practices for influencing the “democratic process.” It not only provides training to novice activists and local organizations but annually trains left-of-center coalitions. [2]

Background

Midwest Academy was founded in 1973 by activist Heather Booth using the proceeds from a victorious labor organizing dispute. The period was “confusing” for the left, according to Midwest Academy, as Richard Nixon had not yet resigned and manufacturing plants, the traditional site for activism and union organizing, were beginning to move overseas. Left-wing demonstrators were searching for causes to continue their activism, and Booth sought to fill that void. [3]

Booth claims to have pioneered engaging activists with elections and electoral policy, pressuring political candidates and mobilizing voters rather than just demonstrating directly for political demands. In addition, Midwest Academy was a pioneer in promoting both state-level and multi-issue organizations at a time when most activist organizations were either national-level or community-based and either single-issue or single-constituency groups. [4]

The first training leader was activist Steve Max, who as of 2022 was still the Academy’s director emeritus. The Academy quickly linked up with the labor movement and worked with labor organizers before it worked with other social activists. [5]

Activities

Midwest Academy specifies “social, economic, and racial justice” and “building of infrastructure in the progressive movement” as the key motivations behind its training courses and consulting services. It claims to have trained more than 25,000 activists across the United States involved in coalitions and organizations at the local, state, and national levels. Its training teaches activists how and why to organize, methods of protesting, and best practices for influencing the “democratic process.” It not only provides training to novice activists and local organizations but annually trains veteran left-of-center coalitions. [6]

As of 2022, Midwest Academy’s national trainings were all virtual and limited to 25 participants per class. It charges participants for the classes based on the organization’s budget. Its three main courses are “Organizing for Justice,” which teaches campaign skills; “Advanced Strategy Retreat,” which helps organizations refine their wider strategies regarding their campaigns; and “Supervising Organizers Workshop,” which aims to help supervisors and leaders improve their leadership skills and become better organizers. [7]

Sponsors

On its webpage for its “2021 Awards,” Midwest Academy listed Norbert Goldfield as its “Direct Action Sponsor”; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), California Teachers Association, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as its “Strategy Sponsors”; Chicago Teachers Union and Sierra Club as its “Progressive Sponsors”; American Income Life, Community Change, GetThru Charitable Fund, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and a series of individuals among its “Champion[s] of Justice”; and Center for Popular Democracy along with a series of individuals as its “Friends of the Academy.” [8]

Leadership

Founder Heather Booth worked as the organization’s first executive director. [9] Booth is a member of Democracy Partners, a Democratic political consulting firm. As of 2022, Booth remains an officer of Midwest Academy. [10]

Booth is described as having been “the training director for the Democratic Party” on Midwest Academy’s website. Booth was the founding director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, the 501(c)(4) lobbying arm of the NAACP founded in 2000. She was the director of the AFL-CIO health care campaign for the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and led an advocacy campaign for former President Barack Obama. Booth directed the Americans for Financial Reform coalition against the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She was also instrumental in an advocacy campaign for legal recognition of same-sex marriages. [11]

Steve Max, the organization’s first training leader, remains involved with the Academy as the director emeritus. [12]

Robert Creamer, one of Midwest Academy’s directors, formerly worked as an organizer for Chicago’s Citizen Action Program, which was created by Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. In 1974, Creamer founded Illinois Public Action Council (later named “Illinois Citizen Action” or Citizen Action Illinois), which he directed for 23 years. Since 1997 he has worked as a political consultant for Strategic Consulting Group, a firm he co-founded. [13]

Judy Hertz, a director emeritus, worked for decades as a community organizer in Chicago. She served as the director of Rogers Park Tenants Committee for ten years, the largest and most powerful neighborhood-based tenants’ rights organization in Chicago. She assisted in the leadership in the campaign to pass the Chicago Tenants’ Bill of Rights. Under her supervision the organization was renamed the Rogers Park Community Action Network (RPCAN). [14]

Other key directors of Midwest Academy include Saqib Bhatti, executive director of Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE); Jackie Kendall of Democracy Partners; David Medina, the COO of Results for America; Eddy Morales, former director of Democracy Alliance’s Latino Engagement Fund; Jessica Pierce of Piece by Piece Strategies; and Marvin Randolph of Southern Elections Fund. [15]

References

  1. “Home.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/. ^
  2. “Mission and History.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-popular-democracy/. ^
  3. “Mission and History.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-popular-democracy/. ^
  4. “Mission and History.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-popular-democracy/. ^
  5. “Mission and History.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-popular-democracy/. ^
  6. “Mission and History.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-popular-democracy/. ^
  7. “Training.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/training/. ^
  8. “2021 Midwest Academy Awards.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/awards-2021/. ^
  9. “Mission and History.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-popular-democracy/. ^
  10. [1] “Board of Directors.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/about/board/. ^
  11. “Board of Directors.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/about/board/. ^
  12. “Mission and History.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-popular-democracy/. ^
  13. Board of Directors.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/about/board/. ^
  14. “Board of Directors.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/about/board/ ^
  15. “Board of Directors.” Midwest Academy. Accessed August 29, 2022. http://www.midwestacademy.com/about/board/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Marvin Randolph
    Board Member
  2. Heather Booth
    Founder and Board Chair
  3. Mike Lux
    Board Member
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1973

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $884,697 $616,895 $748,674 $215,362 N $310,872 $521,982 $261 $178,300
    2019 Dec Form 990 $724,006 $656,674 $293,805 $28,295 N $109,044 $575,170 $505 $184,808 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $546,710 $567,440 $272,095 $73,917 N $166,465 $435,402 $383 $111,582 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $687,511 $751,773 $319,217 $100,309 N $179,377 $528,518 $338 $100,462 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $692,368 $752,356 $367,341 $84,171 N $207,907 $497,418 $4 $95,678 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $721,803 $695,983 $387,463 $44,305 N $190,101 $569,541 $10 $95,678 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $657,408 $679,398 $425,071 $107,733 N $77,633 $500,348 $16 $94,731 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $593,544 $661,682 $420,605 $81,277 N $69,160 $465,712 $21 $91,971 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $577,345 $675,446 $449,016 $41,550 N $102,730 $409,179 $57 $86,668 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $624,950 $676,373 $547,410 $41,843 N $98,090 $483,796 $324 $83,900 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Midwest Academy

    27 E MONROE ST STE 1100
    CHICAGO, IL 60603-5698