Join us in reaching out to your elected officials to rally support for your program and others around the state. Elected officials want to know what is happening with kids in their communities – your voice matters.
Anyone can advocate for afterschool! It is important to note that, if your program is funded by federal grants, you may not use your federal dollars to lobby elected officials. You can, however, communicate the successes of your programs and hopes for continued support.
There is no definitive approach to starting an OST program in Pennsylvania; however, there are best practices and regulations around the provision of quality programs. Your needs depend on the type of program you plan to create. This section will provide you with resources and tools to start a quality OST program.
You know firsthand the profound impact afterschool has; all you have to do is tell your story and you can be an effective advocate for sustaining and expanding support of afterschool programs in your community.
It can be confusing to know how you can involve yourself in an election while representing a nonprofit organization. There are a few simple ground rules that you need to follow:
Nonprofit election and lobbying guidelines. Lobbying can be confusing if you work for a nonprofit organization.
Documentation. Keep a calendar of each time you reach out to a candidate and every time a candidate contacts you. This will help you keep track of your equal outreach efforts.
It is hard to watch the news or listen to local talk radio and not hear about state and federal spending or deficits. The intense rhetoric surrounding state and federal budget cuts is not likely to end any time soon, so to ensure that vulnerable children and youth still have a safe place to go afterschool, participate in fun or challenging activities, and receive extra learning opportunities, your voice as an afterschool provider will be essential.
But before you can ask your state and federal legislators to do something, they need to meet you and see for themselves why afterschool is so important to your community. Simple strategies are provided for you to utilize and engage your local policymakers to build champions for afterschool in both Harrisburg and Washington, DC.
Here is more information on how to the lay the foundation for building a relationship with your legislators and the actual meet and greet.
The first step to building that relationship is like the first step in building any relationship – you need to introduce, or in some cases, reintroduce yourself. Take a proactive approach to get to know and educate the staff of your member of Congress.
Getting to know policymakers’ district office staff helps put you and your program on the radar screen at the local level. Since it’s probably going to be easier to meet when they are in their district office, it is good to have a personal connection to someone in that office. Those of you who have conducted meetings with locally elected officials know that you do not always get to meet face-to-face with your state legislators or member of Congress – especially if you have traveled to Harrisburg, PA and Washington, DC. Something comes up, a vote is scheduled, there are conflicting events or perhaps a press conference suddenly appears on the policymaker’s calendar. These activities are all part of the daily lives of elected officials. Sometimes your meeting might be postponed, but what most often happens is that your member of Congress or state legislator will ask his/her staff to meet with you.
You should never feel insulted if this happens to you. It is not a bad thing. The strength of your relationship with your policymaker’s staff is a vital factor in your future success as an advocate. Think about it: educating a staff member gives you an opportunity to educate a person who has the ear of your elected policymaker on a daily basis.
Getting to know their staff and sharing information with them about your afterschool program is a key strategy to making your policymaker more informed on the issue of afterschool. You want to establish yourself as the “go-to” person on all afterschool issues – especially during consideration of the state or federal budget.
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