Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.

UniServ Training Program

The NEA Center for Organizing is pleased to announce our tentative schedule for both in-person and online UniServ Trainings for the coming year.
Online webinar


When we return to in-person programming, we will again be offering two types of UniServ Academy experiences: Foundation Academies (for new UniServ staff) and Focus Academies (for experienced UniServ staff). Locations will not be finalized until closer to the event dates. Staff should register for sessions based on their availability and content needs.

  • The NEA UniServ Guidelines state that new UniServ staff attend the Foundation Academy within their first two (2) years of employment. Based on our experience, UDs who wait beyond their first two years have a more difficult time building the basic organizing skills into their routines.

  • In response to feedback from affiliates, we will again be offering topic-specific Focus Academies

The number of participants for each Academy is capped at 35 per session. Therefore, forms should be submitted as early as possible, and no later than the appropriate deadlines. Additional applicants can be placed on waiting lists. Managers interested in sending more than five (5) UniServ Directors to any single Academy should talk with our UniServ Training coordinator (Ellen Holmes, [email protected]) in advance to review expectations.


Designed for UniServ Directors in their first and second years of UniServ staff work. Foundations Academies are five full days – Monday through Friday, beginning at 9:00 AM, with travel being on Sunday and late Friday evening. All Foundations Academies include a field experience, and focus on supporting new staff in their work of building high functioning locals that can recruit and engage members, organize around issues that our members care about, and develop emerging leaders. (All locations are TBD, pending final approval from the NEA Travel Office). These are face-to-face trainings.

Session I: January 24 - 28, 2022 RESCHEDULED for May 23-27, 2022

Session II: March 21 – 25, 2022

Session III: May 16 – 20, 2022

Session IV: August 15 – 19, 2022

Managers should use this form to recommend staff for the foundation academies.

Focus Academy Online Series:

Foundations Advancing LGBTQUIA+ Justice and Transgender Advocacy

April 11, 18 and 25 (2:30 pm - 4 pm EST)
In response to New Business Item (NBI) 32, this 3-part series offers foundational LGBTQ+ content and transgender-focused advocacy tools for UniServ staff and Association representatives to support and effectively represent transgender and transitioning members including an intersectional focus on racial justice. This series will center on the transgender experience, the employment and legal landscape, and critical steps UniServ directors can take to support transgender educators in an anti-LGBTQ+ climate. The sessions will be provided online in April 2022, and are 90-minutes in length.

  • Session 1: Terminology & Gender: Understanding the Transgender Experience
  • Session 2: The Employment & Legal Landscape for Transitioning & Transgender Employees
  • Session 3: How to Support Transgender Educators in an Anti-LGBTQ+ Climate

Advancing Racial Justice

October 13, 20, 27, November 3, 10, 17, 2:30-4:00 EST. This is a six part series. Affiliate Staff work with colleagues, members, supporters and partners in many settings throughout the workday, coaching and organizing across racial differences.  This training is designed to develop foundational understandings of key concepts required for organizational change towards a more diverse, inclusive, and just workplace. Participants will explore the fundamental concepts of understanding racial justice: unconscious bias, racism in the United States, framework of expressions of racism, acting to interrupt racism at all levels, and system analysis.

Excel Basics for Effective UniServ Work

October 14, 21, 28, 2:30-3:30 EST. This three part series will focus on the critical, foundational skills that all UniServ should have in their toolkit.  Each Session will be 60 Minutes in length. Outlines of each session are below:

October 14 (60 mins)
Beginner excel
Ribbon identification
Insert / Delete Cells
Format cells

October 21 (60 mins)
List Building
Build Salary Schedule (money on base, equally applied, etc…)

October 28 (60 mins)
Pivot Tables / Slicers
Conditional formatting (reading data)
Analyzing data

Foundations of Organizing

November 30, December 1, 8, 15, 2:20-4:00 EST. Organizing is the way that we build worksites and locals with the strength to achieve the demands members have. This series will serve as an introduction for leading small to large campaigns at the worksite and local level. There will be a focus on frameworks that help you better understand the differences between activism, mobilizing, and organizing. Methods will be shared for having strong engagement conversations and for identifying leaders, mobilizers, and activists. Participants will leave this series with a strong understanding for creating, implementing, and monitoring an organizing plan.

Organizing Through Advocacy

December 2, 9, 16, 2:30-4:00 EST. Advocacy is a critical component of union work. If only done with a legalistic approach the outcomes are individual and do little to build overall union strength and solidarity. Advocacy done with an organizing mindset and methods  builds leaders, develops a wide union presence, and builds power. This series will focus on the best practices of advocacy that interrupt the "service only" habits.

UniServ Focused Discussions - Online Sessions

90-minute sessions convened around a topic that is timely and meaningful to our work. These sessions provide content for context and allow for discussion amongst colleagues. 

Participants should attend these to problem solve, share effective strategies, and access helpful resources.


Show Me the Money: Understanding the New Federal ARP Funding and How to Get it

October 19, 2:30-4:00 EST. We have an unprecedented opportunity to create the public schools all our students deserve. The American Rescue Plan Act is the nation's largest investment in public schools ever. Now is the time for educators to lead and use their voices to work with parents, communities, and other caring allies for students to ensure these historic resources are used to ensure equitable and just conditions for all of our students. In this session we will share resources, tools, and checklists that provide the information you need to support locals advocacy on the best us of Rescue Funds. This session will help you: Understand the available emergency resources for public schools. Identify the kinds of activities, programs, and services ARPA supports. Advocate for strong solutions for students.

Speak Truth in Teaching not Critical Race Theory

October 21, 2:30-4:00 EST. As our affiliates work reckon with the ways laws, practices and institutions harm Black, Indigenous and other people of color, right-wingers have resorted to their usual dog whistle strategies of distraction and division. They have co-opted the phrase “critical race theory” as a catch-all for their anxieties about losing power and dominance. Like with “political correctness” in the ‘90s and “cancel culture” today, they have made public schools, college campuses, and school boards a primary battleground, stoking fears about how and what is taught to our kids so they can undermine trust in and funding for schools and teachers. Learn how to develop powerful race and class messaging appropriate for any campaign you are working on. We will focus on examples related to the Pandemic, Housing, Wages, Unions, and Public Schools.

Show Me the Money: Campaigns and Local Structures for Using the New Federal ARP Funding

November 2, 2:30-4:00 EST. We have an unprecedented opportunity to create the public schools all our students deserve. The American Rescue Plan Act is the nation's largest investment in public schools ever and we want to hear how your locals are making demands, insisting on their priorities for these funds, and holding decision makers accountable. In this session we will share wins, challenges, and the ongoing work of supporting locals advocacy on the best us of Rescue Funds. This session will help you: Understand organizing efforts around the available emergency resources for public schools. Identify the kinds of tactics and narratives that have been effective. Discuss and trouble shoot ongoing challenges for local use of the Rescue funds.

Recognizing Secondary Trauma in Yourself and Others

November 9, 2:30-4:00 EST. The purpose of this event is to provide you with a tool for tracking your current level of stress, assessing what your self-care steps might need to be, and providing a framework for understanding what is happening between your mind and body during these trying times. While this is primarily focused on you, these tools can easily be shared with your members and other colleagues. There will be time for questions, answers, and conversation.

Developing Leaders

November 18, 2:30-4:00 EST. Developing Leaders- Are you struggling to recruit new leaders in your locals? Do you have leaders but they are burned out because no one will step up? This 90-minute session will be an opportunity for colleagues to reflect on best practices to develop leaders. Time will be spent discussing strategies to assist newly elected leaders. In addition, we will discuss the benefit of identifying natural or organic leaders and how they can further build capacity of the local they serve.

Show Me the Money - Continued ESSER and ARP Discussions from the Field

December 6, 2:30-4:00 ET. This is the third UniServ Discussion on the topic of organizing around the use of ESSER-ARP funds. This session will be a facilitated space that allows participants to choose various small group discussions based on the needs they have and the strategies they would like to share. Participants will be leading in their breakout rooms, and whole-group sharing will be facilitated.

UniServ Case Studies - Online Sessions

Conversations built around a book, a video, a set of articles, or some other piece of media. The purpose is to engage with a nationwide set of peers around a shared case of interest.  Participants will be asked to relate the case to their own work, reflect and respond during 90-minute discussion sessions. The sessions are spread across a number of weeks.  It is each participant’s responsibility to secure the media to be discussed ( book, articles, online video) and be ready to engage with peers.  This is less of a “book club” and more of a way to improve our practice together. You should register for every session.

Teacher Unions and Social Justice

November 16, December 7, January 19, February 3, 2:30-4:00 EST. This is a four-part series focuses on strategies used by a growing number of affiliate staff supporting the creation of multiracial alliances with communities and the importance of centering social justice in their unions. Social Justice Unionizing seeks to expand how we think about issue identification, power building, bargaining, partnerships, and the wins we achieve. Content and resources from the book, “Teacher Unions and Social Justice,” will be highlighted through a variety of media and discussion formats. The series will provide an in-depth study of the full text, and full attendance is strongly encouraged, but not required. Session 1 : Defining what Social Justice Unionism is and what it takes to achieve this. Session 2: Broadening union leadership and expectations for what unions can win. Session 3: Developing and testing leaders, structures, and tactics that result in power building. Session 4: Using internal and external structures to fight systems of injustice.

Organizing for Action: Planning Guide for Strikes and Walkouts

December 14, 2:30 to 4:00 PM, ET Join us as we cover the new 135-page NEA Strike Manual and dig into what it means to always be strike-ready. This 90-minute virtual session to critically engage with the key aspects of this new resource and connect with colleagues across the country on how we can use it in our work. Regardless of whether your workers have a contract, have a bargaining law, or are legally prohibited from striking, they all share one thing: the power to change their circumstances through collective action, up to and including strikes and walkouts. This session will focus on continuing to build our skills as organizers to develop leaders, mobilize activists, create and maintain solid structures in worksites, and test our strength continually so that we are able to win big for public education everywhere, every time we step into the ring.

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.