Elected officials and policymakers in your community are there to serve you. It’s their job. But they need to hear from their constituents and those being directly affected by their decisions. That means you.
By engaging with policymakers who make decisions on issues you care about, you can directly participate in our democracy and ensure that your voice is heard.
To complete this activity, you must correspond with an elected official, policymaker, or other decision maker. Just remember that Science Rising is nonpartisan — any events or actions associated with this activity cannot endorse or support specific candidates for office (for more, see our FAQ).
Here are five steps to get you started.
Step 1: Set your goals
What are you trying to accomplish? What concrete change are you asking a policymaker to commit to? Why is it relevant to you? Use this to develop a specific “ask” for your interaction with them.
Step 2: Identify your target
Find out which current policymakers have influence over the issue you care about. You can find your current federal representative or senators pretty easily, but don’t forget about your state representatives, city council members, and state and local boards!
Step 3: Connect
Use the websites or social media presence of policymakers to identify ways to connect with them—do they have a virtual town hall coming up where you could ask them questions? Do they have office hours to have calls or online meetings with their constituents?
Step 4: Prepare
Be clear and prepare. To make a powerful impression, draft a question or comment that hits the “three Cs”: concise, concrete, and compelling. Your goal is not to share a lot of information—it’s about piquing the interest of the person you’re talking to in order to further delve into the issue. In just a few sentences, make sure to:
- Introduce yourself as a constituent and your role in the community (i.e. student, long-time community member, etc).
- State why the issue matters and what’s at stake for the local community.
- Make a specific “ask”—the action or stance you want the policymaker to take. If your goal is focused on getting them to take a specific position, frame it as a yes or no question. e.g. “Will you commit to…”. If it’s to get them to say what they will do on an issue, frame it directly “What actions will you take to…”
Step 5: Follow up
Find a way to follow up. Email the person you met with to thank them and send any additional resources you have.
Ready to go above and beyond?
Bonus points: Organize an online group or community event centered around engaging a policymaker and complete two Science Rising Challenge activities in one go! This could be something like organizing a Facebook Live Q&A or virtual forum with local elected officials. Just remember that Science Rising is nonpartisan–events or activities can not endorse or support specific candidates for office.