Mobilizing Congregations using a District-wide Approach.
UMC congregations are engaged in public schools through C4C so it seems logical that this work should be extended to include advocating at the local school, school board and county authorities levels for improvements in resources for schools. Advocating for improved and more accurate curriculum would be part of this venture.
The overall intent is to help improve the provision of public education within a District by inviting congregations to advocate for improvements to yet to be defined needs. The intent is to empower congregations to be engaged in advocacy work supporting local public schools.
Project Structure and partners
The District will partner with UMAPS (United Methodist Advocates for Public Education) to implement the goals, and will create a steering team to manage the project. This team will include the following
- The Assistant to the District Superintendent
- A representative from UMAPS
- A representative from the Capital District C4C team
- A representative from the Capital District Mission Strategy Team
- Congregational representatives as needed.
The project process will be as follows once a Steering Team is established.
- Conduct a survey of all UMC’s in the Capital District to ascertain the specific level and type of engagement with public schools through C4C or other intentional approaches.
- Review the advocacy activities of all non-profit agencies currently engaged in public school advocacy in the District and develop ways to embrace and take advantage of collaborative efforts with them.
- Evaluate the data about UMC school engagement and the collective advocacy work done by others to ascertain the capacity of congregations to engage with public education to discern appropriate advocacy opportunities.
- Invite selected congregations with active engagement with public schools to partner in this process as pilots. Each pilot would appoint a small congregational Steering team as well.
- Organize proactive listening sessions with selected pilot schools and congregations to build a needs list for those schools.
- Conduct public workshops and listening sessions to promote further dialogue between education leaders and administrators, parents, public officials and elected representatives.
- Engage with all advocacy organizations with the counties covered by the Capital District, build relationships with these organizations and build collaborative advocacy strategies with them.
- Build and deliver advocacy training programs for small congregational groups to engage with school management, school boards and county commissioners.
- Maintain records of all relevant metrics that define the needs in the pilot schools.
- Monitor advocacy activities over a one year period.
- Evaluate all advocacy activity and its results and make appropriate amendments to the approach for further deployment.
- Repeat all of the above until the advocacy work is sustained forever.
Understanding the congregational resource level to undertake this initiative is essential, so we suggest a Human Resource Skills Asset study be done of the congregation to find out who has experience and skills of members to undertake education advocacy work. See this paper to help identify possible people resources. (Link to “Understanding Congregational Human Assets” and Mobilizing your Congregation”)
There are many issues and priorities for public education, and selecting the focus of any effort is essential to prevent burn-out. See this list for the UMAPS 2019 Priorities to help focus advocacy efforts. (link to Public Education Challenges.)