United Way launches online platform to engage public in advocating for change, announces success of year’s first advocacy effort
SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — United Way of Southwest Michigan launched its new collaborative platform for advocacy, giving the people of Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties the ability to learn about advocacy opportunities and act on them with easy-to-use communication tools that let politicians know what their constituents want.
United Way is also proud to announce its first advocacy success this year. UWSM and its advocates called on state legislators to support the proposal to expand funding for the Great Start Readiness Program. On June 30, the school aid budget passed the Michigan House and Senate that includes expanded funding for the GSRP, putting 22,000 left-out kids into high-quality preschool.
The new advocacy platform is incorporated into the UWSM website at uwsm.org/advocate. The provider is the world’s leading technology company for civic participation and stakeholder engagement and has empowered millions of advocates to make over 27 million connections with elected officials.
“The premise of the platform is simple,” said Jennifer Tomshack, UWSM communications manager. “Everyday citizens don’t know who their elected officials are, how to contact them, or even what crucial decisions are being made. This system is a mobile- and social-centric platform that allows people to speak up on issues important to them in order to effect change. Through the system, individuals can email or tweet their support of public policy to their representatives. They also have the ability to learn of and share real-life stories, told by UWSM, of people in our community who experience first-hand the impact of those policies.’
UWSM launched its advocacy department in 2020 with Heather Cole, Director of Advocacy and Public Innovation, as its head.
“We’re so excited to create more ways for all of our neighbors to advocate for change in our community,” Cole said. “Our goal is to help connect our community’s voices and stories to the policy decisions that affect us all and make it easier for people to raise awareness about causes they care about.”
UWSM strives to be a catalyst for change by mobilizing the power of communities, officials said. Through public-policy advocacy, the nonprofit is working to achieve systems-level change in the areas of health, education, and financial stability — with focus on ALICE households (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.
For more information about UWSM’s advocacy agenda or to sign up for Advocacy Action Alerts, visit uwsm.org/advocate.