3 Reasons Why Advocacy Day Matters
Cheryl Flores, Director of Community Engagement, Advance Illinois
Apr 27, 2023
This week, more than 100 educators, parents, students and district leaders traveled to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield to advocate for increased investments in K-12 school districts during the Funding Illinois’ Future Advocacy Day.
Coming from across Illinois, champions for equitable access to high-quality education gathered to raise awareness about the need for increased K-12 investments and meet with their legislators to talk about how the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) formula has made an impact on their school and communities. As part of the day-long event, advocates also rallied together in the Capitol Rotunda to show their presence and share their stories as well as hear from legislative supporters Rep. Carol Ammons, Sen. Adrienne Johnson, and Rep. Laura Faver Dias.
Advocates included parents, teachers, students, and leaders from Noble Schools, Morton East High School, Corazon Community Services, Faith Coalition for the Common Good, Illinois PTA, Teach Plus, West 40, and superintendents from Vienna and Riverton.
The experience was empowering and energizing and served as a reminder for why Advocacy Day—which many groups gather for each spring—is so important.
In the toolbox of activities advocates employ throughout the year to drive change on the issues they care about, Advocacy Day is an important way to help effect it at the state as well as at the local and federal levels. For us, Advocacy Day is first and always about ensuring every Illinois student has access to high-quality education.
Advocacy Day as a day of action is important for an array of reasons, including those unique to the individual. Here are few that come quickly to mind for us:
Issues Awareness Building By Community Stakeholders
Advocacy Day is an effective strategy for raising awareness about important issues as well as raising awareness about the groups and individuals who care about them, live and in-person when possible. When we come together to advocate for a particular cause, we can generate media attention and even more public interest in an issue. Both of these are critical for building even more momentum and political will for change.
What’s more, on Advocacy Day, the logistical details of traveling to the state capitol, meeting with legislators in-person, and connecting with others who care about an issue, are in many cases lifted off individual advocates’ shoulders and instead coordinated by an organizer. Planned Advocacy Days essentially open the door for more people who care about an issue to come to the table to participate and elevate their voices to drive change with barriers to access such as transportation, food, and scheduling addressed.
In-Person Time Influencing Legislators
When advocates get to meet with elected officials and other decision-makers, they can share their personal experiences and concerns and well-researched points for why a particular policy change is needed. These meetings are also helpful for relationship building between advocates and legislators, which can be important for future advocacy efforts.
Practice, practice, practice
By attending legislator meetings and participating in other advocacy activities, students, parents, educators and other community members gain valuable knowledge learning more about the policymaking process and practical experience advocating for issues that matter to them.
After three years of not being able to rally in-person in support of EBF investments, we were thrilled to partner with advocates to make the roadtrip to Springfield and elevate our voices with others for the cause. Everyone has a story to share and advocacy day is the perfect opportunity to share that story with legislators. When people most impacted by decisions others make have an opportunity to influence and advocate for change, that is what democracy looks like.
To view photos from Advocacy Day: Click Here
Let’s keep up the progress to ensure all students in Illinois receive the high-quality education they deserve, regardless of their zip code.