What is PKTrains?
For almost a decade, Public Knowledge has been a leader in training diverse early career advocates for a future in public policymaking, putting them in positions to have their voices included in the making of laws and regulations.
Public Knowledge’s training program is an immersive experience where early career fellows learn by working side-by-side with Public Knowledge’s lawyers and advocates, in the halls of Congress, before agencies like the FCC, FTC, and DOJ, in coalition meetings, and with the press. Public Knowledge fellows have moved on to leadership positions at Common Cause, National Hispanic Media Coalition, elected office as a state senator, with federal agencies, including an FCC commissioner’s office, Capitol Hill, and other policy institutions. The fellowship program is a driver of diversity in the tech policy field. Two-thirds of the 22 fellows hired into Public Knowledge’s program from 2013-2020 were female, almost two-thirds were people of color, and over one third were from families where at least one parent was born outside the U.S. At least three identified as LGBTQ+.
Learn more about the PKTrains program in our brochure.
Why Does America Need Public Interest Advocates?
Access to an open internet is critical to participation in a democratic society. Today, the public faces increasing challenges to fair and open access to the internet, from corporate consolidation and control, to overbroad application of copyright law, and many other threats. The public needs to be represented in Washington to promote better policies in everyone’s interest. That is why we are training a new cadre of smart and savvy public interest advocates — to balance corporate power by forcefully representing the public for years to come.
How Does Public Knowledge Train Advocates?
Public Knowledge trains public interest fellows with a learn-by-doing approach at our location in Washington DC. Graduate fellows are immersed in internet, communications, and intellectual property policy making. They take a leading role on an issue or issues, plan strategy, participate in educational meetings on Capitol Hill, agencies, and with other public interest groups and allies, and engage with the public through press and social media. Fellowships culminate in an understanding and facility to advocate for the public interest that will position them to be leaders in the public interest community. Public Knowledge also hosts summer interns who assist on the same projects.
What Kind of Mentoring and Learning Opportunities Are Provided to Fellows?
Fellows are provided with mentoring and substantive advice from two sources: the director of the fellowship program, and a staff advocate in the subject area where they are working. Each mentor meets with the fellow regularly to help develop projects and skills, balance priorities, and develop professionally. Public Knowledge hosts outside speakers to talk with the fellows, interns, and staff. We convene staff dialogues on emerging issues and how they relate to Public Knowledge’s work and the public interest.