FCNL Advocates Driving Change from Around the Country
This has been a challenging season, but rather than let the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 demobilize our advocacy, FCNL’s network of volunteer lobbyists around the country have expanded their efforts to shape government policy in large and small ways.
Here are six inspiring stories of advocates rising to meet this crucial moment:
1. Expanding Food Assistance for the Hungry
At the last minute, congressional negotiators have twice failed to expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of COVID-19 relief packages. In response, FCNL's Grasstops Advocacy Manager Ashley Wilson worked with constituents in half a dozen different states to help them connect with senate offices and share what they are seeing at food pantries and in their local communities. After senators in two states said they would support a SNAP expansion, FCNL constituents in three other states were able to share this news with their Republican colleagues, further building support.
Ready to lobby? Learn how in just 30 minutes at our weekly training.
2. Advocacy Corps Organizer Meets Congressman
Gloria Rodriguez is one of 20 Advocacy Corps organizers who attended a week-long virtual training at FCNL’s Washington Summer Intensive in early August. All the organizers completed their first, virtual lobby visits with their senators and representative, but Gloria got a surprise! Rep. Donald Payne (NJ-10) was so excited to meet with her, that he posted a picture of her on his Facebook page. “I enjoyed my meeting today with Gloria Rodriguez, a New Jersey Advocacy Corps organizer,” he wrote. “She wanted to discuss a pathway to citizenship for DACA Recipients.”
3. Asking Questions at Candidate Forums
Advocacy Corps organizers are also raising questions on the campaign trail in solidarity with undocumented youth. Nedy Velazquez attended a candidate forum for people running to fill the open congressional seat in San Diego, CA. Nedy was able to ask the candidates where they stood on the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and make that issue part of the conversation.
4. Working with Faith Partners
Much of our power as advocates stems from our interfaith partnerships. This month, our Advocacy Team Trainer Sarah Freeman-Woolpert organized a virtual lobby training for Episcopal Church leaders in South Dakota. Prior to that she led a training for the United Methodist Michigan conference.
5. The Quaker Approach to Building Relationships
FCNL’s approach to advocacy is grounded in Quaker faith and practice. We listen actively and search for ways to work together to advance the world we seek. One congressional staffer offered praise for our relationship-centered approach this month, saying that FCNL constituents were always nice to talk with – even when they disagree with the member of Congress they are meeting with. This feedback is regularly heard our by members of FCNL’s Advocacy Teams, who hear appreciation from congressional staff about the detailed information they are able to share and the listening approach to conversations.
6. FCNL Advocate Selected for Giffords Courage Fellowship
Following her successful year as part of the 2019-2020 Advocacy Corps, Dallas-based Giselle López Estrada has been selected to be part of the Giffords Courage Fellowship. Her description on the fellowship page reads:
“Giselle was first exposed to advocacy work through the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s (FCNL) Spring Lobby Weekend. Her newfound passion for advocacy led her to establish the Dallas March For Our Lives Chapter, where she called for a special Texas legislative session along with the Dallas Texas House Democratic Caucus in response to the shootings in El Paso and Odessa. Giselle was also part of FCNL’s Advocacy Corp class of 2019–2020, where she lobbied and advocated for universal background checks. She currently serves as a board member for March For Our Lives Texas.”
You can learn more about all of these FCNL programs on our website, or by signing up to receive our weekly updates.