On Feb. 7, 2013, take action to support afterschool programs!
This year, we are asking you to take the Afterschool for All Challenge at home. We have all the tools you'll need to tell Congress that you support afterschool for all!
Setting up your district meeting is easy!
Before the meeting
- Call the district office for your Member of Congress or senator. Click here to find the phone number for your local office. Ask to speak with their scheduler or appointment secretary. Tell them who you are and the organization you represent. Ask if the Member of Congress will be in the office and if you can meet with them. If the Member of Congress is not available, meeting with their staff is a great opportunity -- some Members rely on staff to dig deep into issues. By getting to know a staffer, you can become one of his/her community resources.
- Assemble a team to come with you to the meeting. Your team should include individuals who can make a strong case for supporting afterschool programs: school administrators, parents, community leaders, local elected officials, law enforcement officials, students or other afterschool program providers. Whenever possible, make sure that they are constituents of the Member you will be meeting with.
- Do your homework and familiarize yourself with the materials. Take note of the Member’s particular interests and think of ways to tie afterschool to them. For example, is the Member an anti-crime advocate? Have they introduced bills to support working families or to encourage healthy eating? Browse our list of issue briefs for more information on how to connect afterschool to a number of hot topics. If your program offers STEM learning, click here for tips on making the case for STEM afterschool. Check to see if the Member has joined the Afterschool Caucus.
Some background information to help you make the case for afterschool:
- Support talking points with brief stories that relate to afterschool and why additional resources are needed. For example, include a success story of a student who had been struggling or how growth of a particular program helped your community. For examples of personal stories, see our Afterschool Storybook.
- Do a brief run-through using the talking points and keep track of time. Assign talking points or issues for each team member to discuss during the meeting. You might consider appointing someone to keep track of time.
During the meeting
- Don't assume the Member or staffer knows a great deal about afterschool. More than 80 new Members of Congress were sworn in this January and many are still staffing their offices.
- Use the talking points as a suggested guide for the meeting. You'll find that the meeting will quickly turn into a conversation and that time will go by faster than you expect. Listen to what the Member/staffer is interested in or concerned about and try to connect afterschool to those issues.
- Stay on message. Don't bring up individual requests. It's easy to take the meeting off topic, so stick to the talking points. Likewise, try not to get distracted by prolonged conversations about people or places that you may have in common with the staff or Member.
- Make sure you ASK the Member/staff to support increased funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and CCDF and to join the Afterschool Caucus.
- You don't need to know every answer. If you don't have an answer to a question, offer to research the information and get back to the office as soon as possible. This provides a great opportunity to continue interaction with the Member/staff.
- At the end of the meeting, thank the Member/staff for their time and encourage them to visit an afterschool program. Invite the staff and the Member to your Lights On Afterschool event in October. Ask for an email address or fax number so that you can follow up with them.
After the meeting
- Every member of your group should send a thank you note.
- Follow up on any unanswered questions that came up in the meeting. Pass any questions you can't answer along to the Afterschool Alliance and we will follow up on your behalf.
- Fill out the Feedback Form and return it to the Afterschool Alliance.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about your meeting. You can also use this sample blog post on your own blog, or submit it as a guest blog to relevant local sites that cover education, youth issues, or are aimed at parents.