New Advocates

About the Walking College

Established in 2015, The Walking College is a competitive, 6-month, remote-learning fellowship. Participants complete a series of modules covering topics including the basics of walkable design, how to navigate the public policy process and effectively engage decision makers, and how to foster a local advocacy movement. By the end of the program, fellows have developed a walking action plan that lays out a series of short and longer term strategies to tackle an identified problem in their communities.

At the start of the program, fellows are each assigned a personal mentor to assist them in developing a vision and blueprint for their advocacy moving forward. They meet virtually each module in small groups divided by geographic type to review reading assignments, share ideas and struggles and motivate one another.

Each module includes study materials, community activities and WAP-related assignments. Fellows are also encouraged to attend a walkability-related conference near the close of the fellowship with registration costs and shared lodging covered by America Walks.

FAQS

Do I need to have a background in planning, transportation or public health to apply?

Not at all. We welcome people of all backgrounds interested in making their communities healthier, more liveable and sustainable and encourage people falling outside the planning and public health realms to apply.

How much work is the program?

The program runs for roughly 6 months and most fellows find that they spend between 5 to 10 hours per week on the fellowship. As a fellow, you will be expected to:

  • Complete all study materials (consisting of readings, watching instructional videos, community assignments);
  • Participate in two hour-long, online discussion forums and one 30-minute private mentoring session during each of the 6 modules.
  • Complete a Walking Action Planfor your community of choice by the end of the program; and
  • Attend a national or local summit related to walkability OR a local community meeting related to transportation or community development planning and write a brief summary of your experience. America Walks will cover approved registration and lodging costs associated with certain events.

Is there a fee?

There is a $100 fee assessed all fellows upon acceptance to the Walking College. There is no application fee. You will not be charged unless you are offered and accept a fellowship slot.

When will group discussion sessions be held?

Fellows will be assigned one of several work groups according to geography. After they are placed into a group, there will be a poll sent out to gauge what discussion time works best. Fellows and mentors will establish their own schedule for private mentoring sessions. Should a fellow have to miss a discussion session, he or she should arrange to attend another group’s meeting where possible.

What are the dates of the Walking College?

Modules run late April to early September.  Walking Action Plans are due in mid October.

What is a Walking Action Plan?

Walking plans are concise outlines of a particular walking-related problem you aim to address in your community, along with strategies for tackling them.Past fellows have worked to establish complete streets policies in their towns, promoted wayfinding efforts to make it easier to get around on foot, and worked to establish community walking programs through their WAPs. You can find examples of previous fellows’ Walking Action Plans here. We will also consider community project already underway in which the fellow is currently intimately involved as counting toward the WAP requirement, provided a mentor pre-approves this arrangement and that the fellow creates a report of involvement, strategies employed, and progress made.

Have a question that isn’t covered here? Email Walking College Program Manager Emilie Bahr at ebahr@americawalks.org.