What is community mobilization?
Community mobilization involves grassroots organizing and convening a diverse constituency of stakeholders including parents, business leaders, social service organizations and the faith community to design an agenda to support local public schools.
Community mobilization brings together all the key players concerned about the well-being of children and the quality of our schools—parents, educators and other professionals, business leaders and service providers—to plan how your community can make sure your schools offer the highest quality education.
Community mobilization and grassroots organizing strengthen communities by encouraging everyone to be involved and committed to the notion that we all benefit by high quality schools.
Why mobilize your community?
As with all types of public policy advocacy, the purpose is to ensure that the proper programs, policies and laws are in place at every level to secure the best schools for the children in our communities. Grassroots advocacy for public education specifically attempts to organize communities to support the public schools within them. Thus, grassroots advocacy attempts to:
- Create awareness of how public education works
- Empower individuals to participate in systems change
- Enhance the knowledge and personal responsibility of individuals and communities demonstrated by local, state and individual action
- Create a community norm that the education of children is the mutual responsibility of everyone in the community; and
- Advocate for public policy and legislation that supports and protects public education and our schools.
A key component of a successful grassroots movement is engaging both individuals and organizations in the movement. Creating a community-based coalition is the basis of advocacy efforts at the grassroots level. With that in mind, the following list describes some of the goals you might hope to accomplish through your grassroots efforts:
- Provide information to your grassroots network. Up-to-date, accurate information is vital to any advocacy campaign.
- Provide the legislature with information about what matters to local constituents.
- Educate the community about issues affecting your schools.
- Build a movement around a particular issue—for example, funding or testing.
- Strengthen ties to the legislative and executive branches of government, and work with them to effect positive change.
Where to Start
Step 1. Attract Supporters
Build support through community-based education activities, public relations events and other local efforts. Work closely with your school district and other local organizations to ensure continuity, and singleness of purpose on behalf of children and schools.
Step 2. Directly Involve Local Business Leaders
Encourage local businesses to adopt school-friendly positions by asking them to support local school initiatives. Involving business leaders in community mobilization efforts benefits the community by establishing high expectations for graduates, and by bringing the business leaders’ expertise, experience and resources to bear on securing support for your schools.
Adopt-A-School Programs – Although designed for a different purpose, use this guide to business-school partnerships to help you build strong relationships with your local business community, Minnesota Department of Education.
Step 3. Collaborate with Faith Communities
Religious communities are the backbone of many local communities, and are often already involved in projects that support learning. Mobilize faith communities by educating them about the issues impacting your schools. Host a series of breakfast meetings with leaders of various faiths to develop an action plan for your local faith community to influence policymakers on issues adversely impacting the schools in your community.
Step 4. Focus Your Efforts
By sharing information, your grassroots network can identify the immediate needs of your community’s schools. Discuss what’s working and what’s not to create a focused advocacy agenda. This agenda should be created by the people in your community—the grassroots!—and can focus on local improvement efforts as well as policy issues.