28 Days of Advocacy #6 – Creating Community Partnerships

As we go out in our communities, it is often that we hear the old adage that change begins with a single person, which for our purposes is true- but wouldn’t be more conducive to our efforts to have more partners to help influence and impact our issues and agendas?

In our organizations, we all tend to lose sight of the fact that, although we seem to be fighting alone, that we aren’t- that the issues and problems that we face as individuals are the same across the board.’  Many organizations in our communities and across the United States are advocating for the same principles, for the same values, the same beliefs.’  We are all’ advocating for the benefit of our communities, our children.

Community partnerships are key parts of advocacy.’  More partnerships = more people, more power, and more knowledge.’  They allow people from all stages, ages, and walks of life to become aware of and part of our messages.’  They strengthen our organizations, our campaigns, and our resolve to keep fighting for our causes.’  Fresh perspective and insight allow our advocacy to grow and expand and our voices to reach more and more people.

Take time to brainstorm your potential community partners! Here is a possible list that is not by any means complete.’  These organizations could be your partners right now:

  • Teens and their families
  • School administrators and teachers
  • Local Management Boards
  • County Commissioners
  • Head Starts
  • After School Programs
  • Daycares
  • Cooperative Extension Offices
  • Local Businesses
  • Health and Human Services
  • Police Departments
  • Youth Detention Centers
  • Area Media Outlets

How Do You Form Partnerships?

  • Reach out to these organizations by obtaining information from websites/brochures/talking to members of the organizations.
  • Attend sponsored workshops, staff days, and committee meetings.’  Many of these things are open to the public or members of other organizations would be welcome to attend.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your message and involve others in what you are advocating for.’  Chances are you have the same message or are advocating for different facets of the same issues
  • Lastly, be committed to your partnerships.’  Follow up, stay active, and above all- stay in contact! Connection and communication’ are key!

We can’t be a member of,’ or involved in, every organization or committee, but just communicating with other community groups and members on a constant and consistent basis can help keep, strengthen, and even create new lasting partnerships.

Above all else, keep this thought by Margaret J. Wheatley’ in mind: “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”‘  Don’t be afraid to create partnerships and help your community discover what it cares about! Remember, you are not alone!

About Krista McKenzie

I am a Children's Specialist at the Ruth Enlow Library in Garrett County, Maryland. I work with kids from the ages of 0 to 18 and am also a reference librarian. In addition, I am member of the YALSA Legislative Committee, and the Children's Services Division of the Maryland Library Association.
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