Raising of America – A Public Awareness and Advocacy Opportunity

California Newsreel has produced an excellent series on early learning and the healthy development of our children. Raising of America is a 4-episode documentary series; the series offers a great opportunity to raise awareness in your local community about the importance of early learning and the need to invest in our youngest children and their families.

Consider hosting a screening in your region to jumpstart or amplify the conversation around early learning. A film screening is a great way to engage local leaders and the general public, and to build some excitement and urgency around the issue of early learning.

In particular, a screening can be a great way to engage with your local legislators. If you choose to adopt a legislative or policy angle to your screening, here are some things to consider as you plan:

1) Invite local legislators. If you would like them to attend during the legislative session, consider planning the screening for a weekend so they will not be in Olympia. If it’s during the interim, you can plan it for a week day but just be sure to give them plenty of notice. If they do attend, they may want a speaking opportunity, so plan accordingly. Even if they don’t attend, inviting them provides an opportunity to begin building (or to strengthen) an existing relationship.

2) Organize a post-screening panel or discussion. This is one good way to honor the legislators or other community leaders who might be in attendance (and to entice them to come in the first place). It also gives the audience a chance to process and make connections between what they saw on the film and what’s happening in your local community.

3) Include a Call to Action. Use the screening as an opportunity to talk about an important policy issue in your area or across the state. Leverage the (hopefully) large group of people in attendance by asking them to sign a postcard, send an email, or make a call to advance that issue. And make them do it right there! Don’t let them leave the room without taking some kind of action.

4) Use the screening to build your list. Big public events like this present an opportunity to build your internal email list of supporters – both donors and regional advocates for early learning. This can be as simple as having a sign-in sheet with a check box in which people can indicate whether they would like information on future events or important early learning updates.