What Is Advocacy?
Advocacy is how you persuade an audience to take the desired action, whether that action is the enactment of a policy or increased enrollment in a Career Technical Education (CTE) course. Be mindful of the legal boundaries on participation in advocacy efforts. Understanding what can be done in an official capacity and what can be done in a personal capacity is important. Check with your organization or agency to understand any limitations within your role.
Our CTE Advocacy 101 Guide provides an overview of how to be a CTE advocate and tips to be successful throughout the advocacy process. For one example of advocacy, continue reading below.
New Resources to Engage New Policymakers
As the 2018 election season gets into full swing, it's more important than ever to begin to prepare for educating new leadership about CTE - and inevitable that newly elected education and workforce leaders will will have questions about CTE given its importance to both systems. Below are resources to help state CTE leaders prepare for upcoming political transitions and be the most effective communicators on their statewide vision for CTE.
- Key Tips for Engaging Policymakers: Straightforward advice on preparing to brief new leaders, with tailored guidance for and questions to expect from new governors, legislators, state board members, and K-12 and postsecondary leaders.
- "CTE in Your State" PowerPoint Template and related tips: A basic template and related guidance to help state leaders build their own materials.
- State examples:
- Utah has extensive fact sheets on its CTE systems, including an annual "At-A-Glance" flyer.
- Alabama created a brochure for new leadership
- Kansas shared outcome data with a Congressoinal delegation
- Oklahoma has extensive case-making and communications resources on OkCareerTech website, including "fast facts" updated annually
- Washington created a Perkins V fact sheet for its State Board
- Idaho has delivered a number of presentations, including to their state legislature, backed up by fact sheets.
Become an Advocate
Step 1: Develop the Message
- A simple way to organize the core message is around a triangle, with the desired action in the center and the best three supporting messages at each point. Advance CTE’s Core Messages for Attracting Students to CTE resource provides a description of the message triangle — or core motivators — that should be at the center of any communications effort.
- Keep in mind that you can use the message triangle to prepare to reach out to a member of Congress and ask him/her to take a desired action. For example, you may want a member of Congress to vote in favor of a bill or sign on to a letter. Follow our Legislative Updates to stay informed about opportunities to connect with your members.
Step 2: Know Your Audience
- Messages can be most effective when directed and tailored to your members of Congress. For example, supporting messages should provide information that would be relevant to the member’s state or district.
- Consider visiting the websites of your members of Congress to learn about their education policy priorities before reaching out about a specific bill or letter.
Step 3: Tailor Your Message to Your Audience
- Based on what you learned in Step 2, determine which of the supporting messages you developed will have the largest impact on your members of Congress.
- Check out what’s going on with CTE in your state to find additional information that may support your message.
Step 4: Develop an Engagement Plan
- Now, you can put together a stakeholder outreach plan, which includes finalizing communication channels (emails, phone calls or in-person meetings) and developing effective materials. For example, your outreach may include contacting a member of Congress.
- Find contact information for your members of Congress, and share your message through email or direct mail. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your members’ offices.
- Check out Advance CTE’s tool to help state leaders begin to build a communications and recruitment strategy.
Step 5: Measure for Success
- It is imperative that you have ongoing outreach and communications strategies in place to make progress toward achieving your desired action. Keep in mind that an audience must hear a message an average of 11 times before it resonates. To see how Advance CTE and the Association of Career Technical Education (ACTE) keep the staff of members of Congress informed, check out our Congressional Updates monthly newsletter series, the Capitol CTE Chronicle.
- A critical component for helping policymakers and stakeholders understand the value of CTE is lifting up high-quality programs of study that prepare learners for college and career success. For the past five years, Advance CTE has held the Excellence in Action awards, recognizing innovative and effective programs across the 16 Career Clusters® hailing from communities around the nation. Learn more about these programs.
- Share your CTE advocacy stories of success and challenges with Advance CTE!
There are a variety of ways to get involved in advocacy — it’s all about your comfort level, capacity and intended outcomes. An important advocacy goal is to recruit more students to CTE programs. Advance CTE and the Siemens Foundation are working on Strategies for Attracting Students to High-Quality CTE, a project that supports states and local communities across the country in their efforts to attract and recruit students into high-quality CTE programs of study. The following project materials and tools can be used in advocacy work:
- The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Fact Sheet
A brief overview of top-line findings from Advance CTE’s communications research
- The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students
A national survey of the attitudes of current and prospective CTE students and parents
We also encourage you to look through the below resources that may fit your advocacy plan: