Reaching Out to Key Officials
Election season is not the only time to reach out to the elected officials, municipal leaders, and policy-makers to help them understand the issue of adult literacy and the impact of your program on your local community. Now is the time for you to write to key officials to extend an invitation to meet with you and students before the legislative session gets rolling.
Move UP recommends making at least six contacts with their state legislators throughout the year, and contacts by students can be very effective.This type of advocacy is of course, a benefit to the program, but more importantly, it teaches and engages adult learners in the political system. It helps them to learn about their responsibility to become informed on issues and to be well informed when they vote.
Advocacy Tips for Adult Literacy Providers & Partners
- In preparation for making contact with key officials, and/or their visit to your program, find out about them. It’s useful to know if they have any connection with adult education, if s/he has attended an adult education class, or taught one, or if they are familiar with someone (through personal experience with someone, such as a family member) who has earned an adult diploma or high school equivalency degree.
- Mark a calendar with the dates your students and staff will reach out to key officials, and connect classroom activities to preparation for those visits, calls, and emails.
- Invite legislators and officials to visit classes and/or talk to students. Asking students to invite them is an excellent strategy.
- Have students send notes of congratulations to officials who have recently been elected to new positions.
- Have students write letters to the Governor about why they need adult education and how it is helping them transition to postsecondary education and/or employment.
- Get to know legislative aides - when legislators need to understand the issues that are important to their constituents, they often rely on their aides to provide that information.
- Provide an opportunity for some students to share their stories about why access to adult education is so important to them.
- Have students who have been studying citizenship or US history write to express what they value about our democratic society and invite the candidate to talk about that.
- Prepare a fact sheet to distribute that hits the highlights of your program and provides information about academic progress, transitions to postsecondary and/or employment. Have a mix of data, information and testimonials.
- Establish a relationship with the staff people in the offices of Connecticut's federal delegation. Most legislative staffers are well educated, and from their own experiences, quite removed from the world of adult education and the literacy challenges many adults in our state face. Should an issue come up in Washington that deals with adult education, literacy, adult training, access to services, we need to make sure the staff people can provide their boss with what this means in their districts back home.