Build the Bench

The Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO) is leading and facilitating a dynamic project to “build the bench” of leaders from worker and community based organizing networks. This innovative leadership and organizational development program was launched to address the new challenges and complexities that have emerged in recent years for leaders within economic justice networks. The Build the Bench (BTB) initiatives seeks to sharpen individual and organizational effectiveness while deepening cross-organizational networks to advance shared economic justice goals. 


  1. Get smarter with others faster to win bigger. Create trusting communit(y/ies) that provide a well of knowledge, experience, and practices that senior staff of power building organizations can draw from and contribute to.
  2. Build and deepen relationships. Create relationships of mutual trust and respect that foster individual growth, support organizational strength, and deepen interdependence in the movement ecosystem.
  3. Collective Innovation. Utilize collective brainpower and organizational resources to innovate solutions to shared organizational and movement challenges.

Latest Update

Build the BenchOn July 10, 2019, a group of 27 leaders from regional, and national worker center and community organizing networks gathered at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD for the fifth annual Build the Bench Convening.  Hosted by the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO), Build the Bench Convening brought together creative, passionate, and inspiring managing directors from across the country to support their growth as organizational and movement leaders through connection with CIWO and others in similar roles. Read more

Community of Learning and Practice

Build the Bench creates peer networks and communities of practice through convenings and periodic webinars that foster multiple connections across staff in similar roles from different organizations. 

Participating organizations include:

Jobs with Justice, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Partnership for Working Families, Center for Popular Democracy, People’s Action, Interfaith Worker Justice, Restaurant Opportunities Center United, Grassroots Collaborative, Organization United Respect Walmart, USAS, PICO National Network, Gamaliel, United We Dream, Enlace, Right to the City, Center for Community Change, Food Chain Workers, Institute of Policy Studies, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, LA Black Worker Center Network, Workers Dignity Project, New York Communities for Change, Raise the Floor Alliance, National Black Workers Center Project, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

Convenings and Webinars