Engaging Elected Officials

Vote-2014Today is Election Day, and as elected officials for Ingham County and Bath Township, we can tell you just how critical it is to engage your local officials early and often. Local College Access Networks are drivers of change, but this happens when the leadership team includes a cross-sector of high-level leaders from the community including your mayor or township trustee or county commissioners.

"But our mayor is just too busy to worry about the LCAN."

We hear this often. Is it hard to get our attention? Sure. Like you, we're wearing many hats and are juggling multiple priorities at once. Is that a reason to ignore us? Absolutely not. Elected officials are the voice of the community. We are in our positions today because we want to improve our communities with a highly educated workforce that will drive business and philanthropy.

Remember, college is a public good: Postsecondary educational opportunity and attainment are critical to a just and equitable society, strong economy and healthy communities. The data doesn't lie. The more you learn, the more likely you will vote and volunteer and be a more engaged citizen in your community. As elected officials, we want more of our community members invested in the community's health and growth. We want more of our citizens using their voice whether at the polls or writing letters and emails.

Are there endless ways the elected official can support the LCAN? Absolutely. They are a recognized face and voice to carry the college access message. They can provide inspiration and encouragement when needed. They can begin to shift the college-going culture in the community. For example, we're starting to see elected officials join our Governor in declaring Michigan College Application Week with a proclamation. Also, don't forget how the LCAN can support the elected official. The LCAN is the college access expert of the community who can provide quick data and talking points. Help them understand the benefits of a highly educated community.

What's next? Well, don't forget to vote! After today, schedule a meeting to meet with any newly elected officials. Introduce them to the LCAN and encourage them to join the leadership team. We like numbers! Show us the data and talk about the realities of college access in our community.

Sarah Anthony headshot 2013Authors:
Sarah Anthony, director of finance for the Michigan College Access Network and Ingham County Commissioner

 

 

Ryan Fewins-Bliss headshot 2013Ryan Fewins-Bliss, assistant director of network development for the Michigan College Access Network and Bath Township Trustee.

Posted: November 4, 2014

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