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Public Interest Clubs

Public Interest Clubs

On a case-by-case basis, Agora Speakers International may designate a club with restrictions on membership, but that serves the general interest as a Public Interest Club (PIC). This may happen even if these restrictions would otherwise not be allowed.

Public Interest Clubs do not pay any fees to Agora Speakers International but can restrict both membership and attendance due to their particular nature.

Some examples of Public Interest Clubs are:

  • Clubs in governmental bodies that restrict attendance to government employees.
  • Clubs in schools and universities that restrict attendance to students, teachers, and/or parents.
  • Clubs in hospitals, child-care centers, hospices, orphanages, elderly residences, etc.
  • Clubs in penitentiaries.

In general, a PIC must meet on the hosting institution's territory, as it is assumed that it's in the institution's interest to have such a club. Therefore the institution is willing to provide infrastructure support. For example, a club only for Columbia University students that meets in a pub in NY cannot have PIC status. 

Except in the cases where the club members need to be protected or are restricted from contacting the outside world (for example, for health or security reasons), all PICs must meet physically regularly (occasional online meetings are allowed, though). Continuing with the above example, an online club for Columbia University students cannot have PIC status.

Please note that, in general, we require the organization hosting the club to be non-discriminatory and in alignment with Agora's bylaws (although there may be exceptions, such as a club in a single-sex penitentiary or a support group for survivors of domestic violence).

Registration Procedure

To request a PIC status, please register the club first as a Restricted club, indicating that you want to apply for PIC status.

Depending on the type of organization that will be hosting the club, you will also need to send us electronically the following documents:

  • For PICs that are based in officially recognized educational organizations:
    • The full name, full physical address, and of the institution hosting the club.
    • The club's meeting venue (including specific building and room) must be on the institution's territory.
       
  • For PICs that are based in governmental bodies, health organizations, child-care centers, hospices, orphanages, elderly residences, and penitentiaries:
    • The full name, full physical address, and of the institution hosting the club.
    • The website of the organization.
    • A letter of authorization signed by a responsible person in the institution allowing the creation of the club. The letter must have the full name and direct contact information (both institutional EMail and Telephone) of the responsible person. Please note that we need a direct EMail and Telephone, not the institution's generic EMail. The EMail must match the domain of the institution. If the language of the letter of authorization is not English or Spanish, we will need a notarized translation of it to one of those languages.
       
  • For PICs that are in other organizations:
    • All the documents indicated above, plus:
    • A letter from the club founder explaining why he or she believes the club is performing a public service.
    • The current bylaws or charter of the institution where the club meets, both in the original language and translated into English.

 

If the PIC status is not granted...

If you applied for PIC status and it wasn't granted, you have several options:

  • Address the issues mentioned in the decision letter and apply again.
  • Keep the club simply as Restricted, paying the corresponding fees.
  • Switch the club to a Public club, removing the membership restrictions.

If the PIC status is granted...

Congratulations! The club may now enjoy for free all the benefits that Agora offers.

Either the "PIC" or the "Public Interest Club" suffix will be appended to the club name in all official Agora documents. (For example, "Impromptu Speakers PIC" or "Agora Speakers Madrid PIC"). Since the C in PIC already stands for "Club", if the original name included the word "Club", the name will be adapted accordingly ("Best Speakers Club" will be changed to either "Best Speakers PIC" or "Best Speakers Public Interest Club", at your choice).

In general, the PIC status does not expire, so you don't need to go through any renewal procedures. However, if any of the information used when applying for the PIC status ceases to be valid, you need to resubmit a new version. For example, if the person that authorized the creation of the club no longer works in the hosting organization, we will need a new letter of authorization signed by a new official.

To ensure that the PIC system is not abused, Agora Speakers International may occasionally conduct a review or audit of a club's PIC status and may request additional documentation. If any non-conformities are found, the club will be given a specific amount of time to address them. If they are not addressed, the PIC status will be revoked.

Meeting Venue

Public Interest Clubs are free to pick whatever venue they want for the meetings, as long as it doesn't act as an additional layer of discrimination for members.

 

Guests And Visitors

PIC clubs are required to accept visits from the Officers of the Agora Speakers International Foundation and members of the Agora Speakers International Board of Directors for auditing, compliance, and mentorship purpose, subject to the necessary security measures in the venue.

At their own discretion, PIC clubs may choose to accept visitors from other collectives, such as Agora Ambassadors, other Agora club members, etc.

 

Financial Requirements

Public Interest Clubs are not allowed to charge fees to their members, as the assumption is that the hosting organization takes care of all expenses.

Since there are no fees, there are no reporting requirements, either.

 

Listing Requirements

The following information is shared about Public Interest Clubs, and it must be kept up to date by club officers.

 

Club Information Shared
Information Type Shared with
Club name, number, and chartering date Public
Meeting schedule Agora Ambassadors and Agora Foundation officials
Meeting venue Public
Club Officers and their contact information Agora Ambassadors and Agora Foundation officials
Fee structure Not Applicable
Club finances Private  (not subject to Agora Supervision)
Visiting Restrictions Public
Speech Content Restrictions Public
Club Contact Information Public
Awards and Badges Public
Club Languages Public
   

 

Adherence to the Agora Educational Model

In terms of adherence to the Agora Educational Model, Restricted clubs follow the same rules as  Public Clubs, with the following exceptions:

  • In addition to the general speech content restrictions that Public Clubs may enact, PIC clubs may additionally limit the speech content to topics of interest to the membership as long as these limitations are clearly related to the membership limitations.
  • It's acceptable to promote the hosting professional association or organization that acts as a membership requirement. For example, if a club restricts membership to only IT professionals belonging to the ACM, it's ok to promote the ACM within the club.

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Page last modified on Sunday April 11, 2021 17:25:48 CEST by agora.