What is advocacy and why should we do it?
Just as we advocate for our students in our daily work lives, we need to publicly advocate for students to improve their readiness for college, access to college and ability to get the help they need to plan their education.
When we advocate for our students with our elected officials, we are engaging in advocacy work or lobbying. We are attempting to inform and influence our elected officials about the challenges faced by high school students, community college students, counselors, and other educational professionals in the transition from high school to college. Legislators rely on us for information about these educational issues because we are the experts, and we are working on the ground with students and families.
Who are we?
We are leaders in college admissions and members of a professional organization of college advisors, counselors and admissions officials. We are the Western regional group (WACAC) of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). We are made up of over 2,200 leaders in college admissions, counseling and related professions in California and Nevada.
What do we do?
WACAC’s mission is to support and advance the work of counseling and enrollment professionals as they help students realize their full potential, with emphasis on the transition from secondary schools to college and universities and access and equity for all students.
As our “What We Stand For” document shows, we provide:
- Professional development for our members on the transition from high school to college.
- Access to research and resources for our members and the public.
- Participation of traditionally underrepresented, underserved populations in postsecondary education and in our profession.
- Advocacy for student rights in the college selection process.
Who are we asking?
We lobby members of the California legislature — members of the Assembly and the Senate.
Our goal is to have all GRAC members and many WACAC members meet with at least one of their elected members of the legislature while they are home in their district offices. Visits should occur in the month of November or early December. We encourage you to coordinate with fellow WACAC members in your area and try to plan a meeting where 3-4 of you can attend together. The best way to do this is to call the local office of your Assembly member or Senator and ask for a meeting to introduce yourselves and our association.
How do you do this?
Find your local elected officials here: findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov
Once you have your legislator’s names, please enter them on the google doc that Erica Cosgrove sent out to all GRAC members so they can see who their legislator is and which other GRAC members have the same legislator so you can have meetings together.
Setting Up a Meeting with your Legislator
About two weeks before you would like to meet, one person in your local GRAC group should call their district office and ask to talk to the Scheduler to arrange a meeting. Be sure to mention that you live in his/her district.
The Scheduler may ask you to send an email or fax that says, “We are the WACAC and we would like to meet with Assemblywoman _____ to speak about our work in the area of education. The three or four people from our Association who will be there are _____, _____, and _____.” Include in the email several days and times that your group is available to meet.
A few days after sending the email, follow up with a phone call to the scheduler; it may take a few calls to get the meeting scheduled.
If you are not able to secure a meeting with the legislator but rather with a staff member, please go ahead and meet with the staff member. Each state legislator has an “Education Advisor.” They can be a great asset for our association and can apprise the elected officials of WACAC’s priorities and concerns.
What to Expect and What to Do in Your Meetings:
The appointment should be short and sweet. Aim for 15 minutes.
- Introductions – introduce yourselves and include where you live and work and other professional and volunteer leadership roles you have.
- Present our WACAC “What We Stand For” document.
- Offer WACAC and yourself as a resource to the legislative office. You can tell them you will help them find other experts (such as a Financial Aid specialist) from WACAC to come and speak at district events if they want to hold an education event.
- Tell them we will be in Sacramento to meet with them on February 6, 2018.
- Thank them and depart. Don’t forget to collect their business cards for follow up and leave yours as well. Send a thank you following the visit.
Go forth and lobby your elected officials! They work for us, but unless we tell them what is happening with regard to education and college access, they may not be well informed.
Please report back to Breanne Boyle, the GRAC Chair, on whom you met with and how it went: email@example.com.