When one looks at the public policy landscape on the local, county and state levels, there are many important decisions that will significantly impact the quality of life for older adults in Greater Cleveland. This year alone, policy decisions like the state transportation budget, and the state and county budgets will affect services such as Adult Protective Services (APS), home delivered meals, Medicaid and public transportation. After this year concludes, the public policy landscape will continue to be shaped by the U.S. Census and the 2020 presidential election, Cleveland’s mayoral and city council elections in 2021 and statewide elections in 2022.
This year alone, policy decisions like the state transportation budget, and the state and county budgets will affect services such as Adult Protective Services (APS), home delivered meals, Medicaid and public transportation.
When looking out for the best interests of your organization or cause, how should you phrase your message in a way that is easily understood by politicians, foundation leaders or other decision-makers, and in a way that can motivate them to action? How do you cut through the noise of today’s media environment with a message that resonates? How do you train people to use their voices, their stories and their data in a way that maximizes the effectiveness and impact of their message? These are the essential questions that led to the creation of the Advocacy in Motion (AIM) training series. A joint partnership between the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA) and The Center for Community Solutions, AIM sessions have trained hundreds of people across Northeast Ohio on proven methods of engagement with elected officials and other decision-makers. #DYK that we have a program that can help you take your #advocacy to the next level? Learn more about it here Click To Tweet
How do you train people to use their voices, their stories and their data in a way that maximizes the effectiveness and impact of their message?
AIM trainings open with an overview of the program, including the goals of the workshops and what attendees can hope to take away from each program. Each session includes a general education section that reviews past, current and future issues facing older adults in Northeast Ohio and across the country. Included in that review is a listing of the legislative goals of WRAAA and Community Solutions and how research is used to inform public policy and decision-making regarding older adults. The training then proceeds to describe effective advocacy methods, including the description of scenarios which can make or break a legislative ask. Finally, local elected officials are often invited to speak to session attendees on their personal experiences in the legislature, as well as offer additional insights on how to be an effective advocate. For example, one elected official shared a powerful story about a popular program that did not have to endure a budget cut due to a relationship between a community organization and state legislator who negotiated the final budget. Elected officials who have attended AIM sessions have included State Representative Gayle Manning, State Senator Joe Schiavoni, Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti and many others.
Whether you are involved in older adult advocacy, or advocacy on any other policy issue, relationships are built over time.
The AIM sessions have been so successful, we at Community Solutions often hear about how the training has made advocacy efforts more effective. One AIM attendee shared how the training empowered her to reach out to her congressional representative about a public policy concern. She was not certain that the office would be willing to meet with her. After calling the office, she was able to talk to a legislative aide and also schedule a sit down meeting with staff. She came back to an AIM training to share how much she appreciated learning about advocacy methods, and was excited to use them in the real world.
Another AIM attendee reached out to her elected Senator’s office after the training, to invite the Senator and staff on a home-delivered meal tour. Deploying the new skills acquired through the advocacy training, the attendee extended an invitation, uncertain of what the response would be. The office accepted and staff members from the Senator’s office have now been on several home-delivered meal trips to deliver food to older adults. The office has become a staunch ally in the cause to protect home-delivered meals and the fight against senior food insecurity.
These engagements can be critical to the overall success of an organization or legislative outcome
Whether you are involved in older adult advocacy, or advocacy on any other policy issue, relationships are built over time. The ability to engage with a policymaker and/or their staff is key to ensuring that your message is heard, and that there is an opportunity to follow up on that message. These engagements can be critical to the overall success of an organization or legislative outcome. Using the tried and true methods of communication and advocacy delivered through Advocacy in Motion training, one can begin the process of building those relationships with policymakers that can be beneficial in both the short and long term.
Are you interested in taking your advocacy level to the next level? Have you wanted to know how to cut though the noise and turn speech into action? Email Will Tarter at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cyndi Rossi (WRAAA) at email@example.com for more information!