Working with Congress: Activist Milestone #9

Arrange a Site Visit for Your Member of Congress to Communities Affected by Poverty

Another key tool in your advocacy toolbox is scheduling members of Congress to visit areas or programs that are affected by or trying to alleviate poverty. These visits put a face on the problem for legislators and see how people in their constituency are working to solve it. Perhaps visiting a food bank, a microcredit program office, a Head Start center, a community health center, or some other facility or location could make the difference in securing support for RESULTS’ campaign priorities.

Here are a few tips you can use in setting up a site visit with a member of Congress:

  • Choose a site that can illustrate the issue/campaign on which you’re choosing to focus.
  • Contact your chosen site, propose a site visit, and negotiate two or three potential visit dates with the site’s director.
  • Contact your legislator’s scheduler by letter with the request to accompany you to your site.
  • Offer to provide background information on the target issue, on the site to be visited, and the learning goals of the visit.
  • Work with the site representative on logistics for the visit. For example, if you are inviting press, you may want to have a place with a podium and microphone available so the member of Congress can make a statement and answer questions.
  • Co-create a visit agenda with the site including introduction to staff, review of site services, and highlight how the critical points of your chosen campaign would make a positive impact on the site you are visiting.
  • Carefully discuss discretion/privacy issues for site clients with the site representative.
  • Submit visit agenda to the legislator’s office for review.
  • Discuss permission to co-write and co-distribute a press release highlighting the visit.
  • Confirm the visit with both the site and the member’s office a week beforehand and again the day before.
  • Plan to be at the site early and help greet the member of Congress when he/she arrives.
  • Thank the legislator and accompanying staff for their time and offer to schedule a de-brief session.
  • Thank the site for their hospitality.

Tips adapted, in part from materials from the Early Care and Education Consortium.