Advocacy Days are full-day campaigns to educate members of Congress on the Fulbright Program and its impact. Fulbright alumni from near and far gather on Capitol Hill and meet with members of the House and Senate to share their Fulbright experiences and urge continued funding of the program. Participants in Advocacy Days are trained in our messaging and approach, and the resources compiled here are part of our training program.
On March 15, 2017, the Association enjoyed a highly successful Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. We met with 65 congressional offices—House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats—more than any in Association history. We focused on key members of authorizing (such as Senate Foreign Relations) and Appropriations committees, educating them on key features of the Fulbright Program and asking for continued funding at $236 million. We had more than a dozen teams of students, international commission leaders, and members of the Association, the 1946 Society, and the Board of Directors. Each team had been trained, organized and equipped with talking points, briefing materials and “leave behind” packets with information about the program and its extraordinary impact on American leadership, national security, local economies, global alliances, and higher education. In addition to our “ask” for $236 million for the Fulbright Programs, we requested that members add their name to a “Dear Colleague” letter (see below). Such letters are customary on the Hill, allowing members to advocate to each other in a unified voice. In this case, the letters were addressed to leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations subcommittees and endorsed continued spending for all State Department exchange programs, including the Fulbright Program. Our Advocacy Day meetings helped grow the list of signers and ensured it was bipartisan. We enjoyed a working lunch, featuring speakers such as Hungarian Ambassador and Fulbright alumna Reka Szermerkenyi, Canadian commission director Michael Hawes, and Association Director Max Burns. Throughout, we shared the experience through social media with the hashtag #StandForFulbright.
We look forward to our next Advocacy Day on November 7, 2017, as part of the National Conference. Click here to register so that you, too, can Stand for Fulbright. Advocating to your member of Congress is important, powerful, and fun. Join us as we advocate for Fulbright.