The Arc of Texas — Specialized Advocacy Training Project

Specialized Advocacy Training Project

Statewide Need
There is a continued need for the development of training programs and resources to assist Texans with developmental disabilities and their families learn leadership and advocacy skills. To do this, leadership development and advocacy skills training programs must exist in many different areas around the state. Because it is unlikely that any one organization can provide enough funding to meet the demand, it is imperative that organizations that offer this kind of training work with others. This structure will support the development and/or expansion of sustainable leadership and advocacy training efforts.

Project Goal
Build local advocacy collaborations (LACs) and train individuals in basic systems advocacy and advanced systems advocacy for public policy.

Project Summary
The Arc of Texas trained individuals in Basic Advocacy and Advanced Systems Change Advocacy. Basic Advocacy trainings provided participants with the basics of legislative advocacy. Advanced Systems Change Advocacy trainings built on Basic Advocacy training with more detail about issues, collaborations, power relations, and strategy. The two-day course aimed to build an LAC by having participants jointly pick an issue, develop a strategy, and take action to generate change related to the issue.

The Arc also held a screening and discussion of the documentary Including Samuel and a “Tell Your Story” workshop where over 100 personal stories (with photos) were collected before and during the 82nd legislative session. These were used to educate the public (media) and legislators on the need for community-based services for people with developmental disabilities (DD). Five of the stories were edited and sent to the White House to oppose Medicaid cuts at the federal level in June 2011.

For the 81st and 82nd sessions, project staff organized multiple legislative breakfasts to educate staff and legislators on issues effecting people with DD. Project staff also organized advocates across the state to make phone calls, send emails, and make personal and Capitol visits to share their stories with legislators. Legislative wrap-ups and advocacy planning sessions were held prior to the end the 81st session, including “How to Advocate during the Interim” in Houston, El Paso, and other key areas of the state.

“Getting to the Heart of the Matter,” a pairing project to develop a mutual relationship between legislators and their constituency during the interim, was developed and implemented. The project was designed to bring awareness to legislators of the daily barriers people with DD and their families face.

  • Impact
    • Approximately 429 individuals were trained on Basic Advocacy skills
    • Approximately 19 individuals were trained on Advanced Systems Change Advocacy and became participants of the Local Advocacy Collaborations
    • Approximately 210 individuals attended an Including Samuel screening and discussion
    • Approximately 83 participants attended a “Tell Your Story” Workshop and over 100 personal stories (with photos) were collected to share with media and legislators
    • Approximately 95 advocates from across Texas made visits to the Capitol in the 81st session
    • Approximately 196 advocates made legislative visits during the 82nd session
    • Seven legislative breakfasts were held across the two legislative sessions

Project Period
Sep 2008 – Aug 2011

8001 Centre Park Drive
Austin, TX 78754

Geographic Reach
El Paso, Brownwood, Houston, and Austin