January 14, 2019

Your Voice Matters

By Kelly Riding |

One of my first tasks three years ago as the new UAN Executive Director was to “go to the Capitol and advocate for afterschool programs.” Go to the Capitol and advocate? And do what? Just walk in and start talking to people? I didn’t even know where to park or what the different buildings were. After asking about a million questions and following around my mentors like a lost puppy dog over the past three years, I’ve learned so much, including where to park!

As afterschool providers and professionals, we have the opportunity to educate our policymakers about the impact of afterschool programs. In fact, they look to us as the experts and it’s our responsibility and civic duty to inform them about our great work.

In preparation for the 2019 Utah Legislative Session, which commences later this month, last Tuesday we hosted an Afterschool Advocacy 101 training and learned about the legislative process and the ins and outs of advocacy from Senator Escamilla and Representative Romero (a huge thank you to both of them!).

My biggest takeaways from the training include:

  • Send an introductory email to your legislator
  • The Utah Legislative session is only 45 days (it’s one of the shortest sessions in the country!) and our policymakers not only work hard for us during those 45 days but all year long!
  • Messaging matters
  • Create three bullet points and be prepared to give your elevator speech in 30 seconds or less
  • Share program funding gaps and information about waiting lists
  • Always be positive even if you don’t agree with your policymaker
  • Be ready to share data and stories
  • Build relationships outside of the session
  • Invite your policymaker to visit your program at any time (except during the session)
  • If you don’t know an answer to a policymaker question, don’t make it up….tell them you’re not sure and you’ll get back to them with the answer. And make sure you follow up!

This training was to prepare us for the 2nd Annual Afterschool Day on the Hill taking place on January 30. We plan on filling the Capitol Rotunda with afterschool programs, students, staff, and parents who are excited to share the benefits of afterschool programs.

We are accepting registration for organizations to host an exhibit table. We have limited space (around 30 exhibit tables), so sign up soon! Registration closes next Wednesday, January 23.  

Be sure to check our advocacy page on our website for tips, talking points, a policymaker site visit toolkit, and other resources to help you be the best possible afterschool advocate.

Utah Afterschool Day on the Hill details:

January 30, 2019
12:30 - 3:30 PM
Utah State Capitol Rotunda

We hope to see you there!