The fifth class of the Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy is underway! Twenty-six citizen advocates met up for the first time in Ogallala for an orientation dinner and the first of five workshops. Representing Nebraska from the western border all the way to Omaha, this year’s group consists of child care providers and directors, child welfare workers, health professionals, ag industry professionals and economic developers, driving home the fact that early childhood and maternal health issues are important components in supporting a robust and thriving state culture. PLA graduates Laura Kemp and Cheryl Roche (both Class 3) delivered a warm welcome and hefty dose of encouragement to the group.
What sets the PLA apart?
What sets the Policy Leadership Academy apart from other advocacy programs? The answer is simple while surprisingly challenging: It focuses on strategically building grassroots movements that are effective, credible and coordinated. In the first workshop, participants were introduced to the concept that advocacy is “democracy activated” and that no one can design the solution to a community’s challenges as well as the community members who face them every day. Workshop #1—Building an Early Childhood Movement—is centered on this philosophy. Over the course of the day, participants were given firm but flexible strategies to begin building momentum in their own communities. The class had a chance to brainstorm ideas for strategic engagement and messaging with FFN’s Strategic Partnerships Advisor Mike Feeken and Strategic Communications Manager Mike Medwick, known now to the group as Mike2.
Class members hit the ground running with their ideas and one could feel the energy building throughout the day. As the capstone project was introduced, the group started floating ideas that could have meaningful local impact all the way through to possible policy change. There’s a different kind of energy at play when we work and plan to intentionally connect our micro-assets to the macro system. That’s the goal of PLA.
Next: Change at the local level
Our next workshop will be November 15 in Norfolk where we’ll zero in on the work of creating effective change at the local level. We’ll be joined by some special guests as we continue to fill out the skill set of this next group of early childhood and maternal health champions.