Your program is amazing. You do things every day in your Afterschool program that are changing lives. You help make sure parents can go to work knowing their kids are in a safe, structured supervised place with caring adults. You inspire kids learn new things, think outside the box, take leadership roles and embark on projects that will undoubtedly influence their future.
Parents love your program. So do kids, teachers and community members. But the people who make the decision to allocate funds to keep your program open – our legislators – have no idea how great your program is because they have never seen it in action.
You can’t fault them – it’s hard to value something if you don’t really know what it is.
So let’s change that! Here’s how to host a legislative visit at your program:
Step One – Pick a Time – Summer Learning Day? That happens July 13th. Lights on Afterschool? That’s October 18th. Or maybe you’re doing something else that you want someone to see. Choose something that highlights your program and shows the impact you are having on youth.
Step Two – Contact your Representative or Senator and send them an invitation asking them to come. That’s good… but even better is to ask them to come fill a need. Read a book, scoop ice cream, lead a dance or throw out the first pitch. Guests like to feel like they’re needed and are more likely to make attending a priority if they know the event’s success (and the kids) are depending on them.
Step Three – Make sure that you are prepared for the visit. Look over the dos and don’ts for your site visit.. Get Press Coverage for your Site Visit or write a Letters to the Editor talking about the event and the special visitor’s role. Designate someone to “catch” the visitor when they arrive and to be their guide through the event.
Step Four – Follow up! Of course let OAN know what is happening so we can support you. Also, write a prompt thank you note to your legislator, but also make sure to stay in touch with them and let them know what is happening with your program. Hopefully you have created not just a good relationship but a champion of your program… and maybe Afterschool and Summer Learning programs.
Want to know more? Read Tips from the Afterschool Alliance on Hosting a Successful Congressional Visit