Community Schools Messaging and Advocacy tools

Need messaging support to share with your local lawmakers, District, parents, and more? We’ve got you. Feel free to use any of the text or tips below to help answer questions about Community Schools, educate others about the strategy, and organize your community around advancing equity.


Sample message to your members of Congress:


I am writing to you as a constituent and an advocate for community schools, which is a strategy that unites school, family and community for young people’s success. In my role as (_____) in (city/state), I (describe what you do as it relates to community schools; or describe your role in advocating for community schools). I have seen first-hand the impact the community school strategy has on young people’s success.

(Share a short example or story of a student or group of students from your community school/initiative/state). Community schools are backed by strong research. The Learning Policy Institute in a 2017 brief recommends community schools as an evidence-based strategy for equitable school improvement that states should consider for implementation of ESSA.

These school-community partnerships also yield a strong social return on investment, with
one study finding that every dollar invested in such schools produced at least a $10.30 return
in social value.

I am a member of the Coalition for Community Schools, an alliance of over 200 national, state and local partners who believe in the community schools approach to student success. I urge you to support and champion the following programs and legislation in the 116th Congress to give more young people the access and opportunities they deserve to thrive:

1) Funding for Key Programs and Initiatives that Support Community Schools and Children
and Youth:

    • Full-Service Community Schools Program: at least $30 million
    • 21st Century Community Learning Centers: $1.32 billion
    • Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant: $1.6 billion
    • Title II of ESSA: $2.295 billion
    • Full Funding for IDEA

2) Protection of student loan forgiveness programs and expanding eligibility to include community
school coordinators.

3) Strengthening the pipeline of high-capacity adults to work in high-need schools and communities.

Thank you for your consideration, and please feel free to contact me as a resource.



Tips for Scheduling a Meeting with your Elected Official

  • Contact the elected official’s office and ask to speak with the appointment secretary/scheduler.
  • Explain whom you represent (community school/organization) and the reason you want a meeting with the representative (to share with them the positive impact your community school/organization is having for children/youth, families, and communities). Ask the scheduler how you can arrange a meeting.
  • Request a meeting
  • If your elected official is unavailable for a meeting, consider requesting a meeting with the appropriate staff. The staff of elected officials have a significant influence on an elected official’s priorities and can relay your information and become an advocate for your work to your elected officials.
  • If you would like to invite the elected official to a site visit, also mention this to the scheduler.

Tips for Preparing for a Meeting with your Elected Official

  • If possible, invite one or two more people to attend the meeting who can speak first hand to the positive impact of community schools: a student, parent, teacher, community partner, etc.
  • Prepare talking points, or items you want to make certain you share with your elected official. This should include a brief overview of your community school/organization, anecdotes and statistics demonstrating impact, and a specific policy ask.
  • Determine your “ask” for your elected official. Is it more funding for community schools or for related programs, legislation, or even raising with them certain barriers to success that could be addressed through policy or funding?
  • Also invite them to come by and visit your community school. Be very clear and specific about your ask and practice stating this ask before the meeting. If they don’t immediately say yes, don’t give up! Consider this a relationship you’re starting and this is the first of many conversations you will have with them to build their support.
  • Prepare helpful materials to share with your elected official and their staff to better understand the impact of your community school/organization. Infographics, videos, data, quotes, and pictures are especially powerful.

Tips for Conducting a Successful Meeting with your Elected Official

  • Arrive early to get settled. Chat with your elected officials’ staff and review your talking points.
  • At the start of the meeting, thank the elected official for their time to talk with you.
  • State up front what you would like to discuss, and what your “ask” is (see above).
  • Ask your elected official how familiar they are with the community school strategy. Then give a brief overview of community schools based on their level of understanding. Feel free to use some messaging from the Community Schools Playbook.
  • Describe your community school/initiative/organization. How many children/youth and families are impacted? Share your successes, including one or two stories and some data/statistics on things like attendance, family engagement, academic achievement, participation in out of school time activities, etc.
  • Pause to see if your elected official has any questions or comments.
  • Share your “ask” with your elected official. If they say yes to your ask, express your thanks and discuss any next steps. If they say I’m not sure/maybe, ask them if they have any questions you can help clarify in order for them to support your ask. If they say no/not right now, ask them what is preventing them from being able to support your ask. Listen carefully to their response and see if you can address any of their concerns/points.
  • Thank them again for the meeting and say you look forward to staying in touch to share more about your work and how it’s helping children/youth, families and communities.
  • Personally invite them to your scheduled site visit, or on a site visit in the future if you do not have a site visit planned.
  • Within a few days of the meeting, email your elected official and/or the relevant staff person and thank them again for the meeting, and offer yourself as a resource moving forward to learn more about community schools.
  • Remember: this is the beginning of a relationship that you will continue to strengthen!

Host a Site Visit

  • Prepare helpful materials to share with your elected official and their staff to better understand the impact of your community school/organization. Infographics, videos, data, quotes, and pictures are especially powerful.
  • While hosting a site visit may be the heaviest lift of all the actions in terms of effort, it also has the greatest impact. In seeing a community school and what happens there in-person, elected officials often become champions on the spot. We encourage you to extend an invitation to your elected official during this month, and schedule a site visit for a date that is mutually convenient for you both, even if it is after March. Once again, we encourage you to invite the elected officials at your local or state level who show the greatest potential to become a community school champion. If the elected official is not available for several weeks/months, extend the invitation to their staff, who have a great deal of influence on policy as well.
  • Consider inviting the media as well to seek coverage of your school and the visit; if you do invite the media, let your elected official know in advance.
  • During the site visit, tweet pictures using the hashtags #CommunitySchools and tag the Coalition (@commschools) and IEL (@ielconnects) to share your great advocacy.
  • We encourage you to use the guidance and templates below to assist you in planning and executing a successful site visit:

Scheduling and Hosting a Successful Site Visit

The following steps provide a guide to schedule and carry out a successful site visit:

Step 1:
  • It’s up to you which elected officials you want to target: federal, state, and/or local. You can invite all or some of them, depending on the level of attention you want to be able to give them. Prioritize the elected official(s) who demonstrate the most potential to be a champion for community schools.
Step 2:
  • Contact your elected officials: Call their office.
  • Tell the scheduler/legislative aide that you would like to schedule a tour of your community school for the policymaker to attend.
  • If your elected official is not available, see if a staff person can visit instead.
  • Keep in mind that elected officials’ schedules can change without notice. Several days before your scheduled visit, call to confirm the site visit and have alternate dates in case you need to reschedule.
  • Remember also that sometimes an elected official will not be able to participate in the visit, but a staffer will. Staffers are responsible for sharing information and making recommendations to elected officials. They play essential roles, and it can be very impactful having a staffer participate in a site visit as well.
Step 3
  • Before the visit, identify and secure youth, parents, program staff, school officials, and community partners who would be convincing spokespeople for your school/initiative/organization.
  • Once you have identified the spokespeople to represent your community school, give them any background material you have on the policy maker so they will feel comfortable meeting them. This is a good opportunity to share the schedule of the site visit and clarify their roles.
  • Determine your “ask” of the elected official. Is it more funding for community schools or for related programs, legislation, or even raising with them specific barriers to success that could be addressed through policy or funding? Be very clear and specific about your ask, and be sure that what you show them and talk about on the site visit connects to this ask.
Step 4
  • Congratulations! It’s the day of the site visit.
  • Have a fact sheet on your school to give attendees. Include information that demonstrates the reach and impact your community school has on children, youth, families, and the surrounding community.
  • Take pictures of the visit and post on social media including Twitter. Use the hashtags #CommunitySchools in your tweets so we can know about your site visit. Consider inviting the local media as well to cover the site visit. Ask the staff of your elected official if they are comfortable with this. It’s also likely that a communications staffer of your elected official may attend.
  • After the visit ends, send a thank you email to your elected official for attending the site visit and offer yourself as a resource moving forward for learning more about community schools.