ALERT: GEAR UP is at risk, ACT NOW!

2011 | | July 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

GEAR UP is at risk of being reduced or cut completely, and it is time to act. But do you get queasy when you receive our calls to action?  Do you feel others are better qualified to do this in your stead?  Do you think your actions won’t really make a difference?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then please read on.   Over the coming days GEAR UP and TRIO supporters will be calling Washington to save our programs.

  • Wednesday, July 13 – U.S. House of Representatives
  • Thursday, July 14 – U.S. Senate
  • Tuesday, July 19 – White House

Informing Public Policy vs. Lobbying So, you’re not allowed to lobby you say?  We’ll let you in on a little secret:  advocating for GEAR UP is not lobbying. Lobbying is an act that attempts to influence specific legislation.  Advocacy is educating and informing the public policy process.  As a leader in your community, you are in a unique position to inform public policy based on what you have learned in the course of developing and executing your GEAR UP grant.  Advocating gives you the opportunity to boast on the remarkable impact GEAR UP is having in your community or state.

Overcoming the dread of reaching out Meeting with or calling your elected officials can be nerve-racking, but as you’ll see, you have nothing to fear.  Firstly, Members of Congress never answer their office’s main line, so you can take that out of the equation.  Interns, usually young college students or recent graduates, man the telephones to take messages or redirect calls.  Most of the times, they are very nice and will be happy to be of assistance to you. Here is what you do:

  1. Search who your legislators are here.
  2. Call your House Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
  3. Deliver the message: “Tell [LEGISLATOR NAME] not to cut GEAR UP in FY 2012!”
  4. Find five other people to do the same!

VERY IMPORTANT: While you are doing this, remember: they are normal people, just like you and me.  They have good and bad days, and they might be as terrified of speaking to you, as you are of them.  There’s no need to be nervous.  Be your courteous self!

Believing in yourself – You ARE the professional This is the most important part.  Who knows your community and the work that you are doing, inside and out?  Besides you, nobody.  No one can match your passion when you speak about your work.  No one has as much “skin in the game” as you.  And, when you speak, it feels real.  Real – That’s what officials and their staff appreciate the most.  It’s a rarity in the fast-paced-political world they live in.  Your voice matters, above all the noise, because of its realness.  So make sure your voice is reaching their ears, and reach out to them.  Oh, you don’t believe me?  Well, research by the Partnership for a More Perfect Union clearly shows that “citizens have more power than they realize.”  Just imagine what you can accomplish, as the GEAR UP professional from your community or state?

Believing in your community – You ARE the leader Strength in numbers, you’d think that does the trick most of the times, right?  Actually, it only works if people have somebody they can follow, and you’re it!  As a natural leader in you community, people will follow you and we’ll be there to support you.  Making change requires community leadership to inform public policy.  You have the tools, so share our calls to action with all your stakeholders: students, parents, teachers, school staff and partners, and get them involved.  They’ll make your load lighter, that’s for sure!  And, they are also key in getting your Members of Congress’ attention.

Your ability to inform public policy will affect GEAR UP’s overall success in these challenging times. I’m sure we can count on you to reach out to your Members of Congress and get your whole community engaged in moving GEAR UP forward!  For reminders and updates stay tuned to our blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

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