Thank you to all the advocates, youth and legislators who made our Day at the Capitol a success!
OregonASK hosted its annual Day at the Capitol May 2nd in Salem. The day was packed full of legislative visits, robotics demonstrations, and conversations about the the value of afterschool & summer programs in supporting students both in learning and in life. We were joined by over 20 of our partners as well as a group of students from the Umatilla STEM Academy. Individuals visited their representatives and senators throughout the day, and there were several special events.
In partnership with The Y, OregonASK recognized eight legislators as Champions for Youth and Families. Summer Learning, and Children in Poverty. A list of the champions can be found below. During the recognition ceremony, legislators and YMCA Directors talked about the issues they face and what they are doing to support Oregon’s children.
At noon, attendees and youth came together in the Galleria to hear some inspiring comments from Representative Smith Warner. After Rep. Smith Warner spoke, one of the students from Umatilla showed her some of the projects they’d been working on in the Umatilla STEM Academy. “Work smarter, not harder” the student explained about the importance of robotics in her future.
Summer Learning Champions:
- Representative Smith Warner
- Senator Haas
- Representative Hack
Champions for Children in Poverty:
- Representative Sprenger
- Representative Whisnant
Champions for Youth and Families:
- Representative Nathanson
- Senator Frederick
- Senator Roblan
Why Get Involved?
Generally speaking, elected officials and their staff make policy. They appropriate money for afterschool programs through school, city, state and federal budgets. They also decide how funds can be used, what training or supports may be offered and what activities should take place in afterschool programs they fund. They are the policy makers.
It is also the job of these policy makers to represent you – the constituents who voted them into office. Therefore your opinion on issues is extremely important to them. If they don’t respond to your viewpoints, they are likely to lose their jobs.
That’s why it is so important to tell your elected officials about issues that matter to you. There are THREE ways you can get involved – pick the one that works for you and ask your legislator to support afterschool and summer programs in Oregon.
1.) Make an appointment with your legislator during legislative session
You can use this Advocacy Guidance packet, including key messages, to help you feel comfortable getting started – and we know once you get going, it’ll be easy to talk about the amazing things your program is doing to provide expanded learning opportunities for the kids in your community!
2.) Call Your Legislator
A phone call is another effective way to voice your concerns to your legislator and impart a personal touch to your request. When you call your legislator, it is important to be clear, concise and direct. Use the Oregon Legislature website to help you find your legislators contact information.
When you call:
- Ask to speak with the legislative aide who deals with education, specifically afterschool (this person is your representative’s expert in the area and will be far more likely to respond positively to your message)
- Introduce yourself. The aide will probably ask for a mailing address or zip code to verify that you are a constituent. It may be helpful to also give your phone number and email address so the representative or their staff can follow up with you.
- Let them know why you are calling. See our sample script to draw ideas from, just be sure to add personalized accounts of your program and your community, that is why they care.
Take a look at these Talking Points that will help you communicate clearly about the need for expanded learning opportunities.
3.) Send your legislator a letter
Hearing from a constituent informs your legislators decision making. Help educate them by downloading and personalizing this letter. It will only take a minute of your time and will draw their attention to Afterschool & Summer Learning, and the need for them to support afterschool and summer programs in Oregon.
An Annual Tradition
Many of you joined OregonASK at the Captiol in previous years to share with legislators the importance of expanded learning opportunities.
The 2016 legislative session had little legislation actually passed, being a short session with none to very little money available. However, we were happy to see Representative Smith Warner propose and push for a work group on Summer Learning. Although the legislation did not pass, the group was adopted by the House Education Committee and convened before the 2017 legislative session. For more information on the Summer Learning Work Group and recommendations, you can read our Smart Summers Report.
In 2015, with nearly a dozen bills mentioning out-of-school time programs or summer specifically, we had an amazing turnout of programs who were able to come meet with legislators to help keep them informed of the needs of our communities. You can see the full list of bills that supported afterschool or summer programs on our Legislation page. With some other hot-button issues rising to the forefront, we did not see quite the success we dreamed of but were thrilled to see over $1 million dollars of STEM funding allocated specifically to out-of-school time programs. Way to go and let’s keep moving forward!
For the 2014 Afterschool and Summer Learning Day at the Capitol, we a focused on the value and importance of support for Summer Learning. Our guest speaker was Matthew Boulay, founder of the nonprofit National Summer Learning Association, shared inspiring words about the impact summer learning can make and the importance of acting now. We were able to help inform legislators and set the stage for a strong legislative push in the coming years.