Ways to Advocate

Ways to Advocate

Write a letter to your elected officials

Your letter should include: ​

  • An introduction
  • Problem Statement
  • Proposed Solution.  Explain what you want the official to do about the problem. 
  • Call to Action

Keep your letter short.

Be concise and specific, but, add a personal touch.

Organize a Letter-Writing Campaign

A letter writing campaign is an easy, effective way by which a group can voice an opinion about a specific issue (inequities in state aid).  Our legislators were elected to represent us.  The letter serves to educate them about the issue and explains why you feel they should take action.  

Receiving many letters from a group can greatly impact the way a legislator votes on a particular issue. 

Anyone can organize a letter-writing campaign.   

Here are a few ideas:

  • Start with five people ask every person to get five people to write a letter.
  • Hold a meeting and have a letter-writing session or coffee hour.
  • Have a table at a public meeting. Provide copies of a sample letter, names and addresses of lawmakers, literature about the cause and volunteers to talk about the issues. Encourage others to spread the word.
  • Sports teams, theatre groups, parent groups and other school groups can work together to advocate and write letters. You can focus specifically on your program and concerns regarding the budget and lack of funding.

While a template can be used, try to convince people to write their own letters. Each letter should include:

  • An introduction
  • Problem Statement
  • Proposed Solution. Explain what you want the official to do about the problem.
  • Call to Action

Keep your letter short.

Be concise and specific, but, add a personal touch.

Schedule a Meeting with Legislators

Schedule a meeting with your legislator at his or her local district office. You can schedule a meeting for yourself or for a group (like your baseball or basketball team). You can even schedule the meeting to deliver your letter or a group of letters.

Before scheduling the meeting, make sure you are prepared and that you understand the arguments. Have your talking points ready.

  • Be on time for the meeting.
  • Be concise. Stick to your message and expect no more than 15 minutes for the meeting. Stick to your key points and let legislators know exactly what you want from them.
  • Be flexible. If your legisltor is late or can't attend, convey the same message you had planned to deliver to the legislator's aide.
  • Be pleasant and appreciative.
  • Be passionate. Paint the real picture of your situation. Share the ramifications for your program, school or community.

Use Social Media

You can use social media to help spread the word about the challenges we face as a result of the inequities in school funding.   Social media is a conversation, not a monologue.  Create a strategy for using social media as part of your advocacy efforts.  

Use your Facebook and Twitter pages to share information about the inequities in funding and to provide advocacy tools.  Be sure to use quality content from trusted sources Encourage your friends and connections to use social media to advocate as well.  `


"Like" your legislators' Facebook pages.  Visit them often to learn more about their activities and interests.

Keep your posts short and conversational and include an image whenever possible.

Post on the topic regularly.  As a general rule, plan to post at least one Facebook post on the topic each day.

Ask people to share your content through Facebook.

You can promote a letter-writing campaign, meetings, rallies or lobby days on Facebook.


"Follow" your local legislators' Twitter feeds.  "Retweet" posts and comments on the issue.  

Use hashtags in your tweets to encourage others to share a particular advocacy message.

Share links to press releases, images from events and other information.

Tweet directly to elected officials and members of the media.

Tweet directly to individuals and organizations that you want to partner with you in your efforts - - include anyone who will spread the word.

We Can't Wait

#WeCantWait is a statewide campaign by the Alliance for Quality Education, powered by parents, students, teachers, elected officials, candidates for office and other advocates who believe we must take urgent action to make funding New York's public school a priority.  Take a #WeCantWait selfie.

Learn more:  http://www.aqeny.org/wecantwait/

Use Mass Media
Mass media are channels, such as newspapers, magazines, radio or television, used to communicate information to large groups of people. The media can play a large role in shaping public debate.

Media articles, stories, and packages can:
  • create an environment of political pressure
  • convey general information
  • counter popular misconceptions
  • comment on an issue, expressing support, or providing an alternative viewpoint.
The media is interested in timely stories that tie-in to current events such as breaking news, trends and human interest stories that put a human face on issues and problems.

Sharing with the media
  • Inform the media about any advocacy events such as rallies or lobby days.
  • Develop a pitch letter informing members of the media why they should cover your issue. Be sure to include a press release and a "fact sheet" to provide context. Send the release to several media outlets.
  • Share any response, correspondence and updates from legislators on the issue with the media.
  • Write a letter to the newspaper editor and send the published letter to local legislators.
  • Copy editorials and articles about the issue and send to local legislators.

The core message

  • The students of Schenectady are significantly shortchanged due to the inequities in school funding. School districts that are majority non-white are being discriminated against.
  • We are asking our elected leaders to take a close look at this issue, acknowledge the inequities that exist and take steps to correct it.
  • We must let our leaders know that it is unacceptable and we encourage the public to press our elected leaders to immediately take action against this wrong.

Timing is critical. In order to have influence on decisions made about the state budget, we must be aware of the budget timeline.

New York uses an executive budget model in which the Executive is responsible for developing and preparing a balance budget which the Legislature modifies and enacts into law.

The Governor typically submits his Executive budget to the Legislature in mid-January.

From January through March, the Legislature analyzes the spending proposals.

The Executive, Senate and Assembly proposals are released in March. Based on the Legislature's proposal, projected state aid amounts are released to school districts based upon the New York State Budget.

Rallies and Lobby Days
Before the Rally
  • Choose a date, time and location
    Consider a location where you will put pressure on your target. Hold your rally on a weekday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Register your event online
  • Line up speakers
  • Plan logistics
    Do you need sound system?
    Visuals and Sign Coordinator
    Media Coordinator
  • Prepare any necessary materials (Signs)
  • Invite people to participate
  • Prepare Agenda
  • Contact the Media
During the Rally
  • Keep the event to under an hour
  • Greet reporters
  • Welcome people
  • Lead crowd in chants
  • Emcee start the event, explain why all here. Introduce speaker
    Speakers get 5 minutes each. Emcee introduces each
  • Emcee wraps up and takes questions from media
  • Chanting
  • Emcee thanks people for coming, announces net steps and other events.
After the Rally
  • Debrief
  • Share links and clippings of news coverage
  • Send thank you notes to participants

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