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 or candidates 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 meet with, correspond with, or otherwise directly interact with an elected official, policymaker, or candidate. 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 or candidate 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 or candidates 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 and candidates to identify ways to connect with them—do they have town halls or public events coming up where you could ask them questions? Do they have office hours to have calls or meetings with their constituents?
Getting a candidate or elected official on the record at public appearances can take a few tries. To share the load (and the fun), invite others to join you in scouting for events, prepping sample language, and attending.
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 legislator, candidate, or community 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 or candidate 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 saying 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 policymaker, candidate, or their staff a note thanking them, and send them any additional resources you have.
Ready to go above and beyond?
Bonus points: Organize a group or community event centered around engaging a policymaker or candidate and complete two Science Rising Challenge activities in one go! This could be gathering to write letters to a policymaker about why an issue matters to you, or organizing a candidate forum or town hall on your campus. Just remember that Science Rising is nonpartisan–events or activities can not endorse or support specific candidates for office. (For more, see our FAQ.)
Did you complete this activity?
Well done! Have you also completed the two required activities for the Science Rising Challenge — registering to vote and having a plan to vote? Then congratulations! YOU have completed the Science Rising Challenge!
Share your achievement with your friends and let us know you’ve completed the challenge. We’ll send you a cool button to recognize your accomplishment and your participation in our democracy!