4 ways you can connect with newly elected officialsby Elizabeth Tish
This month, elected officials around the country step into office. This is an important time to reach out to your newly elected officials and remind them of afterschool’s role in your community, district or state. Offer to be a resource on the issue, and invite them to come see your program firsthand.
Not sure where to start? Here are some basic tips for reaching out to your representatives at all levels.
- Review statements, platforms and media coverage to make sure you understand the winning candidate’s position. Find a way to connect afterschool to their passion. Is their chief concern is creating jobs in your community? Tell them how afterschool offers workforce development opportunities.
- Write the official to offer to be a resource on afterschool, and to set up a site visit to a local program. You can use our sample letter to get started. It is often helpful to provide information about the impact of afterschool in your community—and it’s easy to do so with data points about afterschool in your state from the America After 3PM dashboard. Facts combined with relatable anecdotes can work together to create a strong narrative about the impact of afterschool. If you work with a program that receives 21st Century Community Learning Center funding, you should also be sure let them know about the impact it has.
- Invite the official to visit an afterschool program. When Afterschool Ambassador Kim Templeman contacted Congressman Tom Cole to visit her program, she called and left emails with his office. A representative from his office visited her program, and then encouraged the Congressman to attend too! During his visit, Rep. Cole saw firsthand what afterschool looks like, and Kim was able to show him the direct impact of federal funds on her program. This type of personal interaction can help any official understand more of what you do and how you do it—whether they represent you on a federal, state or local level. Before the official leaves, make sure to give them materials to take back to their office so they can start making the case for afterschool. Check out our advocacy basics to learn more.
- Stay in touch! After your visit, write the official to thank them for attending, and reiterate any points that you think are important for them to remember. You might also think about thanking them publicly, through social media or a blog about their visit. This is a good place to provide photos and stories, so those who aren’t able to physically attend your program can see what it looks like as well. Don’t forget to follow up, so that when you need support, you have a warm relationship to ask for it.
Want to make an impact while you’re in the process of reaching out to officials? Contact Congress, sign the petition, or write your newspaper.
Want to learn more about the impact of the election? Read about education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, how the election played out at the state level, and the new Congress.
© 2013 Afterschool Alliance