CFI student leaders need your help!

May 25, 2012

Dear Friend,

We at the Center for Inquiry believe it’s important for young activists to learn from experienced leaders who have been involved in grassroots outreach and organizing for decades. We have the chance to shape passionate students into life-long leaders by bringing them together and teaching them the skills they need to make an impact. The students who walk out of our doors each summer develop into some of the most influential and effective leaders of tomorrow, and you can help make that happen.

Please make a donation today to help us bring these students to the Leadership Conference!

Every summer, CFI staff works hard to bring in the most dedicated and promising student leaders to train them in outreach, advocacy, and activism. With more and more young people becoming involved in the movement, however, we risk coming up short on travel grants that can help them attend. This is why we need your help.

Even $50 can make a difference to a student who can’t afford a bus ticket. $100 can help provide a plane ticket to a leader from a campus that’s isolated and out of reach of one of our Centers. If you are able to give it, $500 can bring a whole caravan of students to this year’s Leadership Conference.

2009 community outreach panel Dren
Me (left) on a panel in 2009, sharing my experiences with other students

Center for Inquiry–Michigan helped send me to the CFI Leadership Conference in 2009. Two years later, I began working at CFI’s headquarters in Amherst, NY. Now, my daily life includes giving back what CFI gave to me as a student who aspired to be a secular activist.

Last year, I met Caitlyn Cecchetto at the Leadership Conference. Since then, her group has reached out to many new people in their community as a bastion of reason. Read Caitlyn’s letter below to learn how the conference inspired and equipped her to make a difference on campus. Then please give what you can so that more student leaders like Caitlyn can attend the conference this year.

Thank you for investing in the future of our movement.

Dren Asselmeier
Dren Asselmeier
Campus Organizer
Center for Inquiry

Caitlyn Cecchetto

Caitlyn Cecchetto
President, Freethinkers of Western Washington University

The 2011 CFI Leadership Conference was my first experience meeting the greater secular community. I had been attending my university’s relatively small secular club’s meetings for a year and had pretty much been biding my time like some scheming supervillain until I could usurp power. Which I did (not in an evil way though; the old facilitators were graduating and everyone was eager for me to take over), but then had almost no idea what to do next. I had the summer to prepare. Our club was affiliated with CFI, and when I saw that they had a leadership conference coming up I registered immediately. The main hurdle I had was the location; it was on the other side of the country, and I was a broke college student. CFI was able to help me get there with a travel grant. As a confused but eager newbie, few things are more encouraging than having an organization ready to invest in helping me succeed.

The conference was pleasantly not what I expected. For simplicity, I’ll break my experience down into two main components: education and community. The days were packed with workshops that got me up to speed on the current climate of secularism, skepticism, secular humanism, and all the other –isms we label ourselves with. I learned how to run a group, how to delegate, how to present myself, how to deal with good behavior and bad behavior, how to do things I didn’t know I’d have to know how to do. That was what I expected; I learned what I was getting myself into and what my responsibilities would be. I ended the conference with over twenty pages worth of notes.

CFI SLC 2011 Caitlyn Cecchetto
Caitlyn in a workshop discussion at the 2011 conference

The thing that threw me for a loop was the community I found. This was an entire group of fun-loving students who enjoyed videogames and bar-hopping as much as I did, but were also incredibly passionate about their education, both in and out of the classroom. I made friends from all over the country who I still talk to weekly and can’t wait to see again. I was able to meet the people running the organization that, previous to this, I hadn’t identified as much more than a swag repository. Not only did I meet these people, I befriended them. This conference was the difference between emailing, and sending Dren, Campus Organizer for CFI, a message on Facebook when I have a question about speakers or am having trouble organizing an event.

Thank you very much for making it possible for students out there like me to attend this life-changing conference.