Advocate: Sharing Your Voice

To speak or write in support of a cause or an issue

Advocating for Children’s Education

When we advocate for public policies that improve the lives of children and increase their access to education opportunities, we bring stories our experiences with very young children, we bring examples from our programs, we bring research on child development, we bring visual depictions of children, and we bring data. Engaging in advocating for children’s education does not have to require major investments of time or money. You can start today; here are some ideas (click on each section to read more).

Creating an advocacy program

Start the conversation with your school or organization’s board.

Start here! While the rest of this list can be done in any order or combination, getting support from your school’s or organization’s leadership is a critical first step to a successful advocacy campaign. Begin the conversation with your board by talking about the issues that matter to them, their experience with education advocacy, and their ideas for getting started. Identify the relationships that already exist between legislators and others with political influence and board members. This can give you a head start when creating your advocacy plan.

Consider your issues.

Understand the issues that impact your school’s or organization’s constituents—parents, children, and other education stakeholders. Start by reading up on some of the latest legislation, research, and other reports to familiarize yourself with what others are already doing and the latest statics and information about advancing and transforming education.

Determine goals.

It is critical to have a clear picture of what you hope to gain from your advocacy efforts. As you’re getting started, keep it simple. Do you want to increase awareness of your organization and programs among local leaders and elected officials? Do you want to educate your constituents about larger issues impacting your cause? Set clear, measurable goals from the beginning.

Map your networks.

Nonprofit organizations that experience the most success in advocacy often do so as a part of a larger coalition related to their cause. Consider the networks you have available to you, locally and beyond, where you would have common issues and goals. Meet with these partners and coalitions to learn what they are doing and how you might work together. Although having your own plan with your own understanding of specific issues that affect your community is important, it can be much more effective to work in collaboration with others.

Find mentors and support.

If you are new to advocacy, talking to someone with more experience can often be a good place to start to get advice on what to do first and who to involve. You can often find support for public policy work from national and international organizations related to your cause. Look for resources like policy briefs, sample legislation, and even template advocacy materials to help to make your advocacy efforts easier.

Build relationships.

Advocacy is really about building one-on-one relationships with elected officials, their staff, and other influential leaders. Start with one person that you have a connection with and invite them to meet with you, perhaps for lunch or coffee. Ask them about what they do and what issues are important to them, and talk about your organization and how it might fit into those issues. Always make sure to follow up on meetings with thank-you notes and further information about your organization.

Be a resource.

Often, the biggest asset a nonprofit organization can bring to the advocacy conversation is on-the-ground knowledge of public policy issues and how they are really affecting children’s education. When talking with elected officials and other community leaders, make sure to offer yourself as a resource. You can offer insight, research, and access to constituents who can put a human face and a real-life story about their experience on complicated legislation.

Give a tour.

Elected officials are always looking for media opportunities. Invite local leaders to your school or your organization for a tour to see the work you do or invite them to an event. Offer to include local media when they visit. Not only will this educate policymakers and the media about what you are doing, it also offers officials a platform to demonstrate that they are spending time getting to know the local community and their concerns and issues.

Attend an event.

In most countries, local officials host events or meetings in the community designed to help them interact with voters. Attend these events so you can learn more about these leaders and their causes, and take the opportunity to introduce yourself and the issues you care about.

Mobilize constituents.

Depending on the focus of your school or organization, your constituents—parents, children, teachers, volunteers, and other education stakeholders—are an important resource. Nonprofit organizations and schools often interact with many people whose voices are not often heard in the policymaking system. You can play a key role in educating them about issues being considered that might impact their lives so that they can get involved in the conversation. Keep in mind that your message is much more powerful coming from people who are directly affected by the issues than from your organization. The stories of children, families, and others involved in educating children are critical to effective advocacy.

How can I advocate today?

  1. Enroll in an Education Diplomacy training course. Acquire the diplomatic skills you will need to be effective in your advocacy efforts, such as building relationships and effective collaboration.
  2. Subscribe to Childhood Education: Innovations to learn about effective practices of other schools or education nonprofits. This will provide you with ideas about the issues in children’s education and what you may wish to include in your advocacy plan.
  3. Subscribe to our Journal of Research in Childhood Education to receive research about innovations in children’s education.
  4. Use the International Code of Ethics for Educators (ICoEE) to advocate for teachers and showcase the enormous responsibility of teachers. The ICoEE was developed by CE International and is the premier universal code of ethics for teachers and other professionals involved in educating children.
  5. When you become a GLOBAL FRIEND of CE International, you will receive our Enews Elevating Education monthly as well as our Education Diplomacy & Advocacy Alerts.