Since its founding, Alicia Garza’s Black Futures Lab has stood at the intersection of democracy and voting rights, public health, economic security, structural barriers and criminal/legal change. Tuesday’s announcement of the third cohort of fellows for the Black to the Future Public Policy Institute exemplifies the organization’s commitment to making that change happen.

The 19 fellows selected come from various social causes and will undergo an eight-month fellowship designed to train future Black policy makers and cultivate a network of Black policy leaders. Training will come by way of Institute staff and guest speakers, as well as one-on-one mentorship by experts in policy making.

“Black people need more than a seat at the table to be powerful—we need to set the menu and win policy and electoral power that will transform our communities and secure our futures,” says Garza, the founder and principal at Black to the Future Action Fund and Black Futures Lab. “As part of our work, we are committed to training Black leaders to rewrite the rules that hold our communities back. These courageous and visionary fellows make me excited and hopeful about change.”

With over 600 applicants, the leadership at the policy institute chose eight teams from eight states based on their deep experience and shared commitment to building independent, Black political power. Changemakers from Alabama Association for the Arts, Charleston Area Justice Ministry, Destination Innovation of Kansas, The Hood Incubator of New York, Imagine Black of Oregon, Live Free Illinois, Miami Workers Center and People's Advocacy Institute of Missouri are seeking new tools and techniques to advance policy and change in their respective communities.

“The Institute is bringing together the most influential policy minds in the Black community to offer this training,” says Katherine Grainger, Lead Trainer for the Institute. “Throughout the program, fellows will have an opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills as they work to strengthen how policies respond to the needs of Black communities.”

Though the participants have already started putting in the work to create opportunities and advance society, the fellowship gives them the chance to build a policy campaign from the ground up. Over the course of eight months, fellows will engage in research that focuses on community and policy in order to help develop and strengthen their policy ideas. In the process, fellows will gain a deep understanding of the legislative process at the state and municipal level.