Making connections: How you Set the Agenda for the new Congress in 2023!
“Sometimes we think members of Congress know, but they don’t really know […] Even though they represent the people, they won’t be everywhere all the time, so it’s good to give them regular feedback, updates, and tell them the issues that are important to their constituents,” reflected RESULTS fellow and grassroots advocate Kolawole Arowoogun.
Kolawole’s words summarize beautifully what we saw in action during the RESULTS Set the Agenda campaign spanning January through April 2023 — constituents making connections with lawmakers, letting them know what matters. You didn’t wait for lobbyists or anyone else to set the agenda for your members of Congress. You, the RESULTS grassroots advocates, raised your voices in a resounding chorus to end poverty.
In fact, you raised your voices to the tune of over 200 lobby meetings with Congressional lawmakers, both in-person and virtually. Through these connections, you seeded and built the relationships that will sustain the long-term work to end poverty. RESULTS advocate and fellow, Adu Ogbagiorgis and her RESULTS group introduced their Virginia representative to the idea of the Renter Tax Credit (RTC), laying a foundation of support for this new and important tool for addressing the housing crisis. “She was very receptive to what we were asking and also just asking the right questions. She was confused as to what [the] RTC was, and we were able to give her information,” said Adu. RESULTS advocates made the connection for this member of Congress between housing, inflation, and missing support in the tax code for renters.
As advocates built momentum during the Set the Agenda, the impact already began to emerge. Lawmakers pledged support for RESULTS priorities. RESULTS fellow and advocate Jonathan George prepared engagement strategies with his local group that ultimately secured commitments from their Indiana senator: “Getting [our senator] to say ‘yes, I want to cosponsor [the End TB Now Act]’, ‘yes, I’d like to reform the CTC for people who need it’ is the big accomplishment in my advocacy so far.”
Commitments like these are translating into legislative actions like the record number of Congressional champions calling for full funding of global anti-poverty efforts like foundational learning, maternal and child health, and ending tuberculosis (TB). This push for funding (during the “appropriations” process in which Congress allocates funds to government programs) was especially challenging this year with tight deadlines and proposed budget cuts, making the vocal Congressional support for figures like $1 billion toward bilateral TB funding all the more impressive.
Not only did RESULTS advocates make connections with members of Congress but also with each other. Eighty-seven percent of RESULTS local groups came together to create collective roadmaps for their advocacy, which ensured maximum impact. Some of the first in-person meetings since COVID-19 occurred, including the Pacific Northwest Regional Conference, bringing together multiple groups from Oregon and Washington. An energetic wave of new volunteers joined the movement to end poverty during Set the Agenda as well. You also made connections with your communities, authoring over 140 published media pieces spotlighting your lived experience and bringing poverty issues front and center.
So take a moment for a deep breath and a figurative (or literal!) pat on the back, you set the agenda in 2023! Next up, keep those media pieces coming, especially about economic justice through the tax code, ending TB, and global education (see the Action Center). Continue to organize and mobilize together — in-person or otherwise. The momentum you created will grow these connections, expanding the movement to end poverty until it is unstoppable.