What It Is

Since 2011, the Women’s Fund has engaged women from across the four counties of Western Massachusetts in the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, or LIPPI. This program was created in response to the shortage of women in leadership roles, in both the public and private sectors, and was designed as a non-partisan initiative to provide women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become our region’s community leaders and elected officials.

In early 2019, the Women’s Fund forged a new partnership with a team from UMass Amherst School of Public Policy and the Civic Engagement and Service Learning program. Under the direction of, and in partnership with the Women’s Fund, a new curriculum was designed by UMass Amherst in alignment with our goal of seeing more women leaders.

We bring you LIPPI 2.0: Strategies for Social Change. Students in LIPPI 2.0 will explore pathways for achieving social change, with a focus on developing the knowledge and skills to take action. Students will consider the foundations of U.S. government, as well as current political, economic, and social structures, and examine issues facing Western Massachusetts communities. Students will identify a social issue of interest to them, research it, and then report on how it is being addressed through policy or advocacy.

LIPPI 2.0 is a 500-level course, allowing students to receive credit that can be used toward an undergraduate or graduate level degree. This course will generally take place one Saturday a month between September and May and will culminate in a graduation ceremony in June. There will be two classes during the program that will take place during the workweek to allow participants to experience field days in Springfield and on Beacon Hill to meet with lawmakers and local leaders.

We aim to advance a more equitable and just society by helping participants develop the knowledge and skills they need to create social change. To that end, LIPPI 2.0 is grounded in experiential learning, meaning that participants agree to engage in significant work in the community, build upon the relationships they have developed within their own professional and community networks, and integrate that experience with course content through reflective writing and in-class discussions.

Participants will each identify a specific social issue that is related to their work or interests then research the issue, including its historical foundations, and report on how it is being addressed (via public policy, advocacy, or organizing) using provided frameworks.

Why It Matters

What LIPPI Does in the Community

LIPPI has over 275 graduates who are active in every walk of life. They are running for office, currently hold office, serve on boards of directors, write policy, promote public advocacy, and draft legislation while encouraging respectful and meaningful civic engagement. LIPPI graduates are CEOs, teachers, fundraisers, writers, dancers, business owners, and more.

Whatever your path in life, LIPPI can help you develop the capacity and skills necessary to do work that advances social change in your community and beyond.

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