Impacting Policy, Changing Lives: How to Effectively Engage Consumers in Advocacy
Published June 2017 By Chelsea Sedani, MSW and Ruthie Liberman, MPA
Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath), formerly Crittenton Women’s Union, transforms lives by helping people move out of poverty and provides the tools for other institutions to systematically do the same. Part of what makes EMPath so successful, specifically in its advocacy work, is the involvement of current and former participants, who use their voices to advocate for themselves and other low-income families.
These participants work together through EMPath’s Voices Advocacy Council (VAC) to create positive policy changes to help families escape poverty. The VAC harnesses the power of people’s voices and experiences to create and promote a policy agenda that leads to better opportunities for economic independence. It additionally helps participants practice the core skills of focusing their interests on solving a problem, developing a plan, acting on that plan, and seeing that when they do, positive things can result. This fosters personal agency, which participants can leverage to build success in all areas of their lives. This then allows them to better advocate for their own needs and their community. Participants can attend trainings to become more effective advocates, engage in various advocacy campaigns, speak at public hearings, and build relationships to help advance policy changes.