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Successes | Strategies | Social Media Strategies

Advocacy Strategies

Individuals and groups have been successful in advocating for adult education and literacy. Below are examples of these successes as well as strategies states have used to increase support for adult literacy.



  • In Pennsylvania, PAACE was able to collect over 2000 signatures on a petition to the Governor urging him not to recommend to the Legislature transferring the Bureau of Adult Basic and Literacy Education from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor and Industry. Signatories included administrators, teachers, board members, volunteer tutors, adult learners, and community partners.
  • More than 50 Massachusetts adult basic education programs statewide participated in the Voter Education, Registration and Action (VERA) campaign, representing almost 6900 adult learners in Massachusetts.  The VERA campaign was a non-partisan effort to educate adult learners about voting and topical electoral issues, and mobilize them to vote in the 2008 elections.
  • In New Hampshire, an adult learner testified at a hearing before the House Finance Committee, the group that makes the appropriations decisions, and delivered a powerful story. She was the only recipient of services who testified.
  • In Georgia, a program leader secured $500,000 from the state legislature to build an addition on to the program.
  • An adult learner in a New Hampshire TANF program wrote a letter to her state legislator—who then surprisingly showed up on her doorstep with questions about adult literacy. So, she invited the legislator in for coffee to discuss the issues. Advocates that year collectively insured that adult education received a significant increase from the legislature.
  • In Tennessee, an advocate convinced her Senator to change his mind and sign a Dear Colleague Letter to restore funding for adult education—one of the early Republican co-signers bringing bipartisanship to the effort.
  • Since FY1995, Massachusetts advocates have increased the state line item for ABE from $4.2 million to $30.1 million—an increase of 617%.


DC Adult Learners and Advocates Save Adult Education from Cuts
Adult learners, practitioners, and community members banned together with the Save Our Safety Net Campaign to fully restore adult education funding and to “save” many social services from cuts.

Literacy Day at the Capitol: Strategy Helps Texans Secure $20 Million for Adult Education
Over 400 Texas adult education advocates converged on the Texas state Capitol. See this video of their experience in meeting with legislators and rallying on the Capitol steps. This strategy helped to secure $20 million in state funds for adult education in 2009. (3 min.)

New Hampshire Strategies for Increasing State Funding by 75% in 2009
New Hampshire has a long history of advocacy in the adult education community throughout the state. This resource lists the key elements for successful advocacy used in leveraging the increased funding.

Washington State’s “Adult Literacy Week”
In Washington State, the governor established an annual “Adult Literacy Week.”
This web site offers ways to engage the community, business leaders, and policymakers in raising the priority of adult literacy around one message: Better Skills. Better Jobs. Better Lives. The web site offers a collection of tools and other information about how adult literacy plays a key role in economic vitality for individuals, communities and the state. You will find copies of flyers and campaign materials for raising the priority of adult literacy with the public, including resources and tip sheets on:

We Are Adult Education
We Are Adult Education is a video that tells the story: Arizona EL Civics programs banded together to mobilize adult learners, teachers, and community members to reverse a proposal in the state legislature to zero-out support for adult education. Students wrote letters, met in small groups with their legislators, invited and hosted representatives and state officials at programs, and testified before legislative committees. Based on this intense experience, not only was the funding restored, but the programs were energized. Pima College Adult Education EL Civics programs subsequently created a DVD of digital stories and interviews about the process as a means of continuing student advocacy.

Social Media Strategies

Fission Strategy
If you need help using social media for e-advocacy, Fission Strategy offers this support. Fission Strategy, experienced Web 2.0 and social media strategic counsel, specializes in online advocacy, marketing, and communications. Fission partners, Roz Lemieux and Cheryl Contee, have launched dozens of online campaigns, websites, and blogs. They have been using social media to help nonprofit organizations (and for-profits focused on “social good") communicate since 2003, so they share with you tested techniques that work. For more information, contact Ms. Rosalyn Lemieux.

Microtargeting, Netroots Mobilization, and e-Advocacy
Historically, policy advocates have effectively pressed their causes using compelling research, good ideas, and the right relationships. However, in the past few years, sophisticated issue advocates have increasingly begun to identify and mobilize supporters through a whole new suite of new media-anchored strategies and tactics, including microtargeting, social networking, and e-advocacy.
The Joyce Foundation presents an online video panel discussion that includes policy experts discussing how they came to embrace these tools, what their objectives are, what successes they have had, and what lessons they have learned. 

Social Media for Grassroots Engagement
Rosalyn Lemieux of Fission Strategy presents ways different advocacy groups outside of adult literacy use social media to drive advocacy campaigns. Her power point is available for download, and it includes her notes.

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