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Cory Booker unveils "Justice Academy" to recruit, teach volunteers

Sen. Cory Booker on his economic plan

In an effort to build grassroots support, 2020 Democratic presidential contender and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker launched a volunteer training program Wednesday that prioritizes teaching community organizing skills.

The program, named the "Justice Academy," will be held in New Jersey and the four early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Volunteers participating in the eight-week program will learn community organizing techniques to engage supporters around a wide array of Booker's main campaign issues, including criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, and health care. 

"Living and serving in Newark for the past 20 years, I learned just how powerful members of the community can be -- and that's why this sort of grassroots organizing is central to my campaign," Booker, who was a former community organizer in Newark, said. "With the Justice Academy, we're building a bench of community leaders who will sharpen their skills to become even more advocates for justice in communities across the nation."

An aide to Booker told CBS News that this volunteer training program is a pathway for people who want to be politically involved, but are unsure how to enter the arena. The aide also said the Justice Academy is "just the beginning" of the leadership programs for Booker's volunteers with "more to come."

The program will require volunteers to participate in "an on-boarding training and a national study hall program, which includes regular webinars, suggested readings, and hard-skills practice," according to a press release announcement. Volunteers, who have to apply for a spot in the program, are expected to recruit supporters for Booker, coordinate local issue-based outreach and host events.

On Tuesday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris' campaign launched a similar national volunteer training program, called "Camp Kamala," in an email sent to supporters. A Harris campaign aide said the program, which has two separate tracks, is eight-weeks long and is designed to help potential voters "organize and mobilize their communities around the Harris campaign and her candidacy."

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, also a 2020 presidential candidate, tweeted in early April that one million people have signed up to volunteer for his campaign.