11 Tips for Effective Program Advocacy

Creating an Advocacy Plan for your program is important! Here are some activities from Matt Watrous that have the most efficacy in a long-term Program Advocacy Plan:

  1. Get your legislators into your specific program within the calendar year. Visit your legislators where they work, especially during events like Advocacy Days. You can also bring the legislators to your program so they can see your program in action.
  2. Create opportunities for youth voice and advocacy by bringing your youth program participants as spokespersons during legislative visits.
  3. Testify in a bill.
  4. Attend local council or school board meetings.
  5. Add officials to your program’s mailing list and newsletters.
  6. Follow legislators and officials on social media and think about what your program’s social media engagement looks like.
  7. Write op-eds and letters to editors advocating for issues or telling the story of what your program is doing in the community.
  8. Don’t overlook your city, your school, and your local officials as potential program champions.
  9. Plan out a calendar of activities; including things like thank you notes from youth after the legislative session.
  10. More sophisticated tactics to include in your long-term plan include, relationship mapping: who is in our board and donor list who might be connected to a senator or representative. Find champions for your programs.
  11. Templates and tools – National Afterschool Alliance has many templates, toolkits, and data. Use them!

Pick goals and objectives that are realistic and achievable for your program in the short and long-term. Maybe pick two or three objectives for your program’s first year in the Advocacy plan and snowball from there. Remember that short-term goals are the baby steps that will help your program achieve its long-term goals. 

Hear the entire January Fireside Chat below:





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The South Dakota Afterschool Network works to better our state and its communities by connecting providers, parents and policymakers with proven tools and resources to increase the quality of and access to out-of-school time programming for K-12 children and youth.

Afterschool is a lifeline that keeps youth safe, helps kids learn and grow, and provides parents the ability to work without worry. While South Dakota is home to more than 300 afterschool programs, the demand for programs exceeds available spaces. In fact, 1 in 3 South Dakota children (34 percent) who are not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if it were available. That’s more than 42,000 children who are missing out on opportunities to participate in programming that supports their development academically, socially and economically.

Afterschool can provide valuable opportunities for students to explore STEM, and we are here to help your program succeed in STEM Learning! From webinars and trainings to our signature TMC Trailers that bring turnkey STEM activities to your doorstep, our diverse collection of resources meets you and your students where you are and provides the support you need to deliver quality programming to your students at any age. 

The South Dakota Afterschool Network wanted to create a mapping tool to better understand the landscape of afterschool and summer programs available for children and families. From the initial launch of the new mapping tool, we have identified some startling findings.