Wednesday, April 9
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
There are 76 million youth in America. Many of them are making real-world change to some of today’s toughest challenges. When given the opportunity, they are true leaders in their schools and communities. At NYLC, we see 76 million youth as 76 million solutions. We want policy makers to see youth as solutions; to hear about the positive outcomes as well as the challenges youth are facing; and to see that when youth have a seat at the table, they are engaged community members who are ready to lead meaningful change.
To that end, NYLC is providing a unique opportunity for adults and students to advocate for youth as solutions by meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill and educating members of Congress about the critical role of youth as solutions and as contributors in communities across the country. NYLC will host a Capitol Hill Day to give policy-makers the opportunity to engage in real conversation with the next generation of voters and hear what their constituents and youth from around the globe are accomplishing in their local communities. The goal of the event is to have hundreds of youth advocates speaking with one powerful voice on Capitol Hill.
Capitol Hill Day participants will receive support in securing meetings with Congressional offices, as well as materials and the opportunity to make a real difference in the halls of Congress.
Capitol Hill Day is free with conference registration. Space is limited.
*NYLC’s Capitol Hill Day openings are currently FULL. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to a wait list.
Below you will find a lot of information to ensure a successful Hill Day on April 9, 2014. However, there is always more to learn, so we have provided links to additional information and resources if you want to delve deeper.
» Purpose of Capitol Hill Day
» Capitol Hill Day Preparation and What to Bring from Home
» The Specific “Ask”
» Being a Resource
» What to Expect when Visiting Capitol Hill, Congressional Offices
» After Your Visit
» Additional Resources, Background, History on Service-Learning and Civic Learning
» Background and Additional Information on the Legislative Asks
Purpose of Capitol Hill Day
Meaning and connection to NYLC and the National Service-Learning Conference
The First Amendment to the Constitu1tion, as included in the Bill of Rights, guarantees free speech. It also guarantees the right of citizens to, “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This is a very important part of the civic process because it allows people the right to join together and seek change from the government.
For the past 25 years, NYLC has convened the National Service-Learning Conference, and for the first time in its history, it will be held in Washington D.C. in 2014. Not only does this allow for greater visibility of what young people across the world are doing to Serve. Learn. Change the world®, it also means that we are able to offer a MONUMENTAL Capitol Hill Day experience on Wednesday, April 9 to the first 250 conference attendees who registered.
Our goal is to educate Members of Congress and their staff about the need for young people themselves to be taken seriously – as true stakeholders in our schools and communities. A MONUMENTAL Capitol Hill Day provides an opportunity for youth and adults to share how they are addressing real challenges while also achieving success in school through service-learning, and importantly, to give lawmakers a chance to engage in real conversation with the next generation of voters who are already actively contributing as citizens in service to others, today.
By the way, what is Capitol Hill?
This is a term used to both describe a geographic area of Washington D.C.– the largest historic residential neighborhood in the city - that actually is on a hill, as well as a catch-all phrase for where the United States Capitol, Senate and House Office Buildings, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress all stand. So, it is often used as short-hand reference for where Congress does its work, and where constituents and interested groups come for meetings, visits, and hearings, etc.
Capitol Hill Day Preparation and What to Bring from Home
- Review all the information provided by NYLC ahead of time.
- Join one of the scheduled webinars offered by NYLC in advance of Hill Day.
- Research who your elected officials are, what committees they serve on, and what might be of specific interest to them. Members of Congress have their own websites, and lots of additional information can be found at www.house.gov to find your U.S. Representatives and www.senate.gov to find your two U.S. Senators.
- Complete the Service-Learning Showcase One-Pager – don’t forget that including “action-oriented” photos can be a powerful way to share what you have accomplished. Please send your completed form to Davis Parker (email@example.com) no later than Friday, March 28, and we will print and include it in leave-behind packets for each of your Members of Congress. If you absolutely can’t complete them in time, you must print and bring sufficient copies for your entire state wide Congressional delegation on April 9.
- Compile any additional information on impact, your story, service-learning as a strategy.
- Bring comfortable, but dressy shoes – expect a lot of walking between and in buildings for your meetings. Expected dress code is business or business casual.
- Bring a camera or smart phone to help document your experience through pictures and social media, although of course, you should always ask permission before taking photos of Members or their staffs. Use the official conference hashtag: #MONUMENTAL14
- Remember, by registering for MONUMENTAL Capitol Hill Day, you have committed to attending and participating in all of your scheduled meetings. Not only is this an experience you won’t want to miss, many people have worked very hard to offer this opportunity and schedule meetings. In other words, no skipping!
The Specific “Ask”
While it is a great experience to simply meet and visit with elected officials while you are in Washington, D.C., it is wise to not waste your time or theirs, by simply having a nice chat. There is an expectation that if you are meeting with a Congressional office, you are there to share specific knowledge you have that can be an asset to the Member, and/or to ask for their help or support in a respectful way, on an issue or bill that they can actually affect. In other words, while Members of Congress do have a lot of influence and know many people, it is best to focus any requests on federal issues, as opposed to local issues, or challenges that are outside of the federal government.
» Download the one-page “ask” for your Congressional visit to read more about serving as a resource, legislative asks, and increasing the visibility of young people making an impact.
Being a Resource
The first ask is to allow you to become a resource for your Members of Congress and their staff. It might surprise you to know that not every Member of Congress has young people who serve on an advisory council or who are available to answer questions or give perspective on issues. In fact, not every Member may want or feel they need that kind of support. However, after succinctly sharing your story about who you are and what you’re doing to effect change at home, we want you to offer to be a resource to them.
We have created a one-page Service-Learning Showcase template that will help you describe your project or initiative in a way that makes it succinct, focused on impact, and easy for the Member of Congress and staff to understand. This is often called a “leave-behind” or “one-pager” but is essentially a summary of what you’re requesting during your visit.
» Download the Service-Learning Showcase template
» View a sample of the Service-Learning Showcase leave-behind
You may also be surprised at how many people visit Capitol Hill every day only ask for help and never think to offer their insight and networks to help. Even if they don’t take you up on it, by being prepared and professional, and offering to be a resource for youth input on issues, 1it’s a great way to make sure that offices take you seriously and know that you want to build a positive relationship with them.
What to Expect when Visiting Capitol Hill, Congressional Offices
- The best advice for a successful day on Capitol Hill? Be patient, flexible, and have a positive attitude – it goes a long way! Oh, and wear smart but comfortable shoes.
- Getting to Congressional offices
- After the morning preparation session at the Marriott Wardman Park, buses will take you to Capitol Hill. You will be given a preparatory folder, as well as leave-behind folders for your Members of Congress during the morning session. The preparation and your folders will include a map and review of where each of the Congressional office buildings are, places where you can get lunch or a snack, and where the buses will pick you back up later that afternoon.
- Arrival at the Member’s Office
- It is best if you can arrive a few minutes before your scheduled meeting time, as Members and their staff are very busy and you don’t want them to wait for you. Everyone must go through security lines at the entrance to each building (like the scanning machines at the airport with similar prohibited items, although you shouldn’t need to take your shoes off), so be sure to take that time into account. As part of security, you are not allowed to bring in beverages, and no bags larger than 18” wide x 14” high x 8.5” deep.
- Of course, since Members and staff are very busy, they may be running a bit behind schedule and you may need to wait for them. Many offices are not very big so their waiting areas can sometimes get crowded. If you have a large group, it may be easiest to have the team captain or a representative wait inside, while the rest of the group waits in the hallway. Either way, keep in mind that this is still a place of work, so if you do talk, please be respectful – keep your voices low and distractions to a minimum.
- Even if you have a large group, the Member or his/her staff may not have a lot of time, so be sure to have your talking points rehearsed and ready so you can make your case quickly and succinctly up front, and share your leave-behind folder and materials. The team captain should thank the Member and/or staff representative for agreeing to the meeting; ensure everyone is introduced; and share that you’re in Washington D.C. and on Capitol Hill because you are participating in the National Service-Learning Conference, part of a broader movement to value youth as true stakeholders in addressing real issues today.
- As time allows, you can elaborate on the points you made, and hopefully, give every person in the group an opportunity to speak. Remember that this is a conversation, so before you do all of the talking, don’t forget to engage the person you’re meeting with. It is likely you will be meeting with Congressional staff. If so, you could ask them to tell you more about their role in the office, if they’re from your state, or what made them want to work on Capitol Hill. Be sure to ask if they have any questions for you, and of course, if they can be an advocate for you and your issues with the Representative or Senator.
- The team captain can summarize any next steps from the meeting, and thank the Member or staff for their time and attention on behalf of the whole group. If you want to take a photo at the end of the meeting, be sure to ask politely and be gracious if they don’t have time to do so.
- Keep in Mind…
If you don’t know the answer to a question that you’re asked, that’s okay. It’s best to simply say, “I’m not sure, but let me find the answer for you and get back to you.” But then, be sure to do just that!
There is another NYLC – the National Young Leaders’ Conference. Both of these organizations began around 30 years ago and have long ago worked out the branding issues so both groups can use NYLC as an acronym. However, it may be confusing to Congressional staff. If you are asked the question, it may help to differentiate by sharing that the National Youth Leadership Council is about engaging ALL youth as leaders, and we are here to share what we are doing as part of the solution to real problems in our own communities.
- MONUMENTAL Photo Op!
We will be gathering everyone who participated in Capitol Hill Day for a MONUMENTAL photo opportunity at 3:50 p.m. on the east side of the Capitol (on top of the entrance to the Capitol Visitor Center). Participants will be sent the photo after the conference.
- Complete the Meeting and Hill Day Evaluation Forms
After Your Visit
- On the mobile app, answer the 5 quick questions following each meeting you have on Capitol Hill (they are also available in hard copy in your participant packet). On your way back to the Marriott, please also complete the Capitol Hill Day evaluation forms.
- Send a personalized thank you to your Member of Congress and any staff members you met with. Include a photo from your visit and/or the Conference if possible.
- Be sure to provide any follow-up information they requested or you offered during your visit
- Reiterate the invitation to visit and view your project/activities in your school/community.
- Write a letter to your school board, newspaper, editor, etc. with highlights of your visit, what you learned, and what you were advocating for.
Additional Resources, Background, History on Service-Learning and Civic Learning
» Read more about the background on service-learning
» Read more about Learn and Serve America’s 15th Anniversary
Background and Additional Information on the Legislative Asks
» Read more about the background of the legislative asks