Financialization Incubator

Higher education is in a state of crisis. Public funding for schools is decreasing. Tuition and fees are rising. Students continue to shoulder the burden of these trends, collectively taking on nearly $1.6 trillion in debt. Yet institutional leaders are pouring billions of dollars into risky financial investments and expensive amenities—actively prioritizing monetary gains over affordability and educational quality.

This is part of a greater phenomenon called financialization, and it directly affects millions of students across the nation. The Roosevelt Network believes higher education is a public good that should be accessible for all. To help students defend this public good in their own communities, we are launching the second edition of the Financialization of Higher Education Incubator. Our “Fincubator” is a paid, part-time, eight-week program designed to train and equip students with the information and skills needed to defend higher education as a public good. Students will research and evaluate the financialization of their own college campus, and work with decision-makers and campus coalitions to develop recommendations and advocacy plans to prioritize student voice in financial decision-making.

Students work in groups to develop a project on their campus, and each group member will receive an individual stipend. Each project will receive an operating budget for project-related expenses. Each student is expected to reserve 5–7 hours/week to participate in trainings and work on their project. Learn more about past projects here!

Structure:

  • Biweekly trainings focused on understanding the concept of financialization; how to do financialization research, data analysis, and hypothesis-building; and how to build advocacy and coalition-building
  • Biweekly deliverables designed to build practical skills while developing the group’s project (each deliverable is a piece of the campaign/research project), consisting of a complete finance data sheet, power map, data analysis, and hypotheses development sheet, and a one-page summary of findings and call for action
  • Biweekly check-ins with dedicated national staff to assist with deliverables and provide individualized support to each group

Who should apply:

  • Groups of 2–5 Roosevelters
  • Students who can commit to 5–7 hours/week
  • Roosevelters who have not worked on financialization research before
  • Roosevelters who believe higher education is a public good and should be accessible to all
  • Roosevelters from different chapters may apply in the same group—but only if working on cross-campus research and advocacy makes more sense than doing it separately for each campus

Our goal is to have a diverse representation of students at all levels. We welcome applications from Roosevelters with diverse backgrounds, including gender identities and expressions, race, and class. If you are a member of one of the equity groups, you are encouraged to self-identify on your application form.

What is NOT needed:

  • A formed idea. We will help you build your idea and campaign from scratch
  • A knack for numbers and data. The trainings are designed to help you with that
  • Prior knowledge of finance, financialization, Excel, or other data management software

What to expect if selected:

  • Individualized support from national staff and the financialization coordinator
  • Resources and examples to help you with your deliverables
  • Skills and “how-to” trainings focused on research, analysis, and coalition-building
  • Concept trainings designed to build your knowledge on financialization, both as a theory and as it relates specifically to your institution
  • Opportunity to pipeline into Emerging or Summer Fellowship positions
  • A developed idea and campaign strategy by the end of the program

Timeline:

  • Applications open in the summer.
  • Incubator starts in the fall.

"As tuition rises year after year, affordability has become a huge issue. I wanted to help make my school accessible and equitable, and the financialization project has given me the opportunity to do that."

— Sacha Heymann, University of Michigan

Previous Financialization Incubator Cohorts

Lansing Community College, Michigan

SUNY Geneseo, New York

University of Cincinnati, Ohio

University of Denver, Colorado

University of Georgia, Georgia

University of Iowa, Iowa

Wayne State University, Michigan

Western Kentucky University, Kentucky

Public Goods Spring Incubator

At Roosevelt, we believe that basic public goods like education, water, health care, internet, and transportation ought to be freely and equitably accessible for all. We believe that we should have a right to influence key decisions about the provision of these goods—like their prices— through a democratic system. But today, the reality we see is that private, corporate power has increased tremendously and taken over what should be under the public power sphere. By placing profits over people, it has been vastly limiting our access to key public goods, and standing in the way of achieving safe and healthy standards of living for us all. Public institutions that were once at the center of FDR and Eleanor’s drive for racial, gender, and class equity are being downsized and privatized. 

The time to build public power is now. Join us in the fight by participating in the Public Goods Spring Incubator!

The Public Goods Spring Incubator is a paid, eight-week opportunity, beginning on February 18th, 2020. It supports groups of Roosevelters (2–5 people) to build and/or strengthen policy campaigns that fight for the public good. Whether you have an existing campaign or simply an idea to tackle an issue in your community, we’re inviting you to apply. 

Each student is expected to reserve 5–7 hours/week to participate in virtual group trainings and work on their project.

The incubator structure will be as follows:

  • Biweekly trainings (webinar format) focused on building knowledge, on topics including Roosevelt’s Public Goods Framework, issue and root cause identification, advocacy and coalition-building, campaign strategy and planning, and other skills 
  • Biweekly deliverables designed to build practical skills while developing the group’s project or idea 
  •  Biweekly check-ins with dedicated national staff to assist with deliverables and provide individualized support to each group

Who should apply:

  • Groups of 2–5 
  • Undergraduate students who can commit to 5–7 hours/week
  • Roosevelters who have formed an idea or are starting work on an existing campaign
  • Roosevelters who believe in fighting to defend public goods against untamed corporate power 
  • Roosevelters from different chapters, who may apply in the same group, but only if working on cross-campus research and advocacy makes more sense than doing it separately for each campus

Selection criteria include the viability of the proposal, evidence of long-term interest, clear plans for the duration of the incubator, and a clear understanding of the Roosevelt Network’s worldview.

People of color, people with disabilities, women, and LGBTQI+ candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

What to expect if selected:

  • Individualized support from national staff 
  • Resources and examples to help you with your deliverables
  • Skills and “how-to” trainings focused on research, analysis, and coalition-building
  • Concept trainings designed to build your knowledge on public goods and campaign-building
  • A developed campaign strategy by the end of the program

Timeline:

  • Applications and program start in February.

Spring Incubator Past Projects

2019

University of Illinois, Chicago (IL, working on expanding access to affordable homeownership on the Large Lots program in Chicago)

University of Cincinnati (Ohio, Policy Challenge with the AAUP, working alongside their coalition with financialization issues in Cincinnati)

City College of New York (NY, working on Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Zoning and affordable housing issues in Harlem, NYC)

William and Mary College (VA, working on labor and provision issues on food services at William and Mary College)

Wheaton College (MA, working on increasing jury diversity and selection transparency in Massachusetts)

University at Texas Dallas (Texas, working on establishing a universal recycling ordinance in Dallas)

University of Notre Dame (IN, working on improving landlord-tenant laws and affordable housing issues in South Bend)

Western Kentucky University (Kentucky, working on a policy challenge to do research on college affordability and student debt issues with fellow Julie Morgan)

2018

University of Michigan (3 Groups):
(i) Countering the Financialization of the University of Michigan
(ii) demanding accountability of charter school operators in Michigan state
(iii) establishing linkage fees on new market rate developments in Ann Arbor

George Mason University: Switching to an opt-out system for organ transplants and donation in Virginia

Columbia University: Working on ending the use of solitary confinement in New York State

Carnegie Mellon: Challenging the privatization of Pittsburgh’s water

University of Illinois at Chicago: Identifying and advocating against questionable and costly investments taken on by the University of Illinois

Amherst College: Improving accessibility at Amherst College and the surrounding community

University of Georgia: Improving healthcare access for communities dealing with the opioid crisis in rural Georgia

Guttman Community College: Tackling the immigration crisis in New York City

University of Iowa: Improving democratic access on Iowa’s campus

SUNY Geneseo: Demanding transparency, accountability, and reform to the student judicial process on campus

William & Mary: Working on improving conditions for workers on campus by challenging Sodexo

Moraine Valley Community College: Improving access to MAP grants in the state of Illinois