Week 4 (8/23): Attend or Host an Event with Your Policymaker

During the August recess, Members of Congress often host events and meetings to connect with their constituents and keep eyes and ears on the issues that are most affecting them. These instances are great times to get some face-to-face time (in-person or virtually) with your federal policymakers and ask them to take action to support the CTE community! 


If your policymaker has not scheduled any constituent events or meetings during the August recess, you can create your own event, invite the policymaker to attend and keep up pressure on them to act. A site visit to your school and a tour of your programs will provide a first-hand look for policymakers at the positive impacts of CTE on their states, districts and local communities. 


TAKE ACTION: Attend or host an event with your federal policymakers, where you express the importance of strong federal investments in CTE, ask your policymakers for their support of the CTE community and demonstrate the positive impacts of CTE! 


How do I find events or town hall meetings? 

There are several ways to find when and where your Members of Congress are holding events and meetings: 


  • Visit the House directory or Senate directory to find the website for your policymaker and click on the “events,” “meet [name]” or “town halls” section. Each Member of Congress may use a slightly different title for this page, so you may need to poke around on your policymaker’s website to find the information you need. Nearly every Member of Congress also has a newsletter you can sign up for to get updates on their actions and events. However, some Members of Congress may not have an events section on their website, so you may need to do more digging. 


  • Contact your federal policymakers’ offices via phone and ask when the next scheduled town hall meeting – either in-person, virtual, or telephone town hall – will be held. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been easier for policymakers to hold telephone town halls and virtual events. If the response is “none,” or something similar, express your disappointment and your hope that the policymaker will soon hold events to hear from their constituents and members of the CTE community. 


  • Volunteer databases, such as Town Hall Project, maintain an up-to-date list of public events and meetings for Members of Congress. 


What do I ask at an event or meeting? 

It is best to come prepared to an event or meeting with a list of questions that you would like to ask your policymaker. Try to ask open-ended, focused questions, and always ask questions in a polite manner! Examples of questions you could ask to gauge their support of CTE may include: 


  • How do you plan to support job and economic growth in [your area/state/congressional district] by providing additional federal funding for career and technical education? 


  • How will you support greater federal funding for CTE to be provided through the appropriations process? Do you feel Congress is doing enough to support CTE? 


  • What do you see as the future of work, and how do you see CTE filling the workforce needs of industries like [key industries in your local area/state/congressional district]? 


  • Draw on your role as a CTE educator, administrator, etc.: 


    • How will you support CTE educators as they work to continue providing a pipeline of talented, skilled workers to fill in-demand positions? 


    • How will you provide institutions with the resources necessary to train students in in-demand career fields through related CTE programs?  


If you would like assistance with finding information about events and town hall meetings, or asking questions of your policymakers, please contact Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, at jhouck@acteonline.org. 


How do I host my own event? 


Your policymakers’ understanding will go a long way with an up-close and personal tour of programs. Below is a quick-start guide to hosting an event with one or more of your federal policymakers. Even more tips to help you plan an event for your policymakers can be found on ACTE’s Hosting a Site Visit for Your Policymakers page: 


Before you begin planning, get permission from the necessary officials. In-person events may be subject to additional requirements or restrictions based on the COVID-19 pandemic, so be sure to follow all local and state health regulations, and consider current conditions, when planning your event. Make sure that school will be in session when you plan to host the event. 


What type of impression do you want the policymaker to have of your program or school? What program(s) do you want to highlight? Brainstorm and select the most key features of your program or school that you want to show off. 


List out the plan for the day step-by-step and share the agenda with everyone involved in the planning of the event. Plan a short and concise introductory presentation about the school, business and program, as well as the related programs the policymaker will see. 


Now that you have your agenda, the next step is to invite your targeted policymakers. Many Members of Congress have an online form you can complete to request attendance by your chosen policymaker, typically under a heading titled “request an appearance.” State and local officials may be easiest to invite via email or phone calls. Send an invite letter via email to the policymaker at least six weeks before the scheduled date (you can find contact information for your Members of Congress by visiting ACTE’s Action Center). 


Briefly introduce yourself, your program and state the purpose of the letter.  Explain why you would like the official to visit your program (to see how an  example of a CTE program can work in the community, the importance of  supporting such initiatives, etc.). Include specific information about the visit  (proposed date, time, location, others who may be invited, whether the media  will be invited, what activities are planned for the visit). Public officials have very  busy schedules, so you’ll need to be as flexible and accommodating as possible.  You should take every step to accommodate the policymaker. NOTE: Federal  legislators will most likely be in their home districts Mondays, Fridays and on  the weekends. 


Work with the policymaker’s press secretary to determine appropriate press activities. Send a press release to the local media inviting them to attend the tour. Tag members of the media on social media to invite them to your tour. In addition to giving the policymaker publicity, it will increase the community’s interest in your program. Be sure to follow up with the media to make sure that they attend, since the policymaker will be expecting them! Take plenty of photographs. If you are unable to have the media present during the tour, send the local reporters a follow-up summary and a photograph for their use. (ACTE can help you with your media activities! Please visit the Targeting the Media section of ACTE’s Advocacy Toolkit. 


When the policymaker and his or her staff arrive, distribute descriptions of your programs, success stories about students and any other relevant information you feel promotes your program. Let the policymaker know the scope of the program: how many people you serve and what impacts the program has on families, the community, local businesses and the local economy. Explain why continued funding for CTE is important to students, jobseekers and businesses in the state or district. Encourage interaction between the policymaker and students. 


Have a few supporters present, such as parents, students and business partners to help you make the case. 


Emphasize how additional resources could benefit students. While you have the policymaker’s undivided attention, make a pitch for support. Ask the policymaker to support your programs through increased funding and effective policies. Remember to be specific if current legislation is pending. 


Congratulations! You conducted a successful tour, but you have another crucial step to take. Before you do anything else, make sure you: 


  • Send thank you letters to the policymaker and any staff who attended, reiterating the need for additional funding and more effective policies for your program. 


  • If you are active on social media, post photos and a recap of the visit. You can also tag the policymakers in your social media posts to thank them.


  • Include copies of press coverage.


  • Include a photo of the policymakers with your students and supporters to remind them how important CTE is to your community.

If you would like assistance with developing and hosting an event for your policymakers, please contact Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, at jhouck@acteonline.org.