Download NGCC2020 Competition Guide

What is NGN Global Challenges Competition (NGCC)

NGCC supports our mission of educating and engaging the next generation for solving global issues reflected in NGN 2120 Goals. Annually, NGN sets up competitive events for the Club NGN members, high school-based and community-based membership club. Club NGN competitive events are for the age group 13 to 19 years. Starting August 2020, globally NGN competitive events will be offered to collegiate, professionals and senior citizen.

What is NGN2120 Goals and Global Issues

Current global issues are burden to the next generations. NGN2120 goals were developed by the Next Generation Nations (NGN) corporation in 2017. Twenty-one goals were developed for the next generation to take action to end world’s toughest issues like climate change, poverty, hunger, clean water, corruption, violence, human rights, gender equality and many more. NGN2120 goals also include modern goals like need to integrate safely artificial intelligence and robotics in human society, and championing space technology to protect earth from space threats.

It is important to note that NGN have set a high bar for the next generation to eliminate global issues within a hundred years, by 2120. Here is a list of NGN2120 goals.

 

 

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NGN Competition Tracks

 

There are two tracks of NGCC for you to choose to participate in competition

  • STEM to Solve Global Issues

If purpose of your project is to solve local/global issues using science and technologies, then STEM is correct choice for you. If your project solves issues of businesses, industries, products or customers for profit reasons, benefiting one or multiple NGN2120 goals, then STEM is right choice for you. One can raise seed money from venture capitalists/investors

  • Policy to Solve Global Issues

If purpose of your project is to solve local/global issues with good governance and policy change to make a positive impact on society or earth, then Policy is correct choice for you. If your project solves issues of businesses, industries, products or customers for profit and/or nonprofit reasons, benefiting one or multiple NGN2120 goals, then Policy is right choice for you. One can raise seed money or grants from the donors or investors.

Benefits & Reasons to Compete in NGCC 2020

There are two possible ways to win monetary prize:

  1. Winning teams will have an opportunity to claim a segment of total $15,000 scholarship prize pool. This can be helpful to pay for the tuition fees for any school or college. Or, one can use money to pursue further to develop your project.
  2. You win or lose the competition; you will still have an opportunity to ask and raise money from venture capitalists/investors or ask for grants directly from the philanthropic directors/donors.

Connect with global influencers and professionals

NGN 2120 goals provide life-long purpose with personal and professional growth. NGN is supported by global network of entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, educators and professionals. So, NGCC provides a platform for you to get connected with global influencers who could be competition judges and/or keynote speakers.

Get Pitch response from judges who are investors, entrepreneurs, professionals, philanthropists 

NGCC is transparent open platform where judges would love to interact with participant throughout the event. Many participants stay connected with judges even after competition for mentorship purpose. We encourage you to submit your project idea even its not finalized to get response from judges.

 

Improve your project visibility at NGN.org, global issues online eLearning platform

NGN.org provides a personal channel that serves as a portfolio of your work. You can showcase your project/idea, which might include position papers, published and unpublished essays, college application statements of purpose, competition pitch videos or your self-produced videos on local and global issues. Your competition pitch video can serve as lifetime showcase for your personal and professional life.

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NGCC 2020 Deliverables

STEM to Solve Global Issues Competition consists of three major elements:

  • Executive Summary Proposal Paper, Due Jan 31
    • 1-page limit describing issue, opportunity, solutions
  • The prototype or poster, Due Apr 04
    • Functional/non-functional “prototypes/build” with practical applications
  • Pitch day with oral presentation, Due Apr 04
    • Participants will roleplay of a co-founder

Note: Team size: Minimum of 2, no more than of 3

Good Governance and Policy Change to Solve Global Issues Competition, three major elements:

  • Executive Summary Proposal Paper, Due Jan 31
    • 1-page limit describing issue, opportunity, solutions
  • Showcase policy campaign results, Due Apr 04
    • Functional/non-functional “prototypes/build” with practical applications
  • Pitch day with oral presentation, Due Apr 04
    • Participants will roleplay of a co-founder

Note: Team size: Minimum of 2, no more than 3

Eligibility to participate in competitive events

  1. members in the current year.
  2. You must be age of 13 to 19
  3. All registration paperwork must be filled out by December 31. 2019
  4. After due date, no additional participants will be allowed to register.
  5. All participants will follow the official Club NGN dress code.
  6. A photo ID is required to attend and participate in all events.

Dress code for competitive event

Male

  • Collared dress shirt
  • Khaki paint
  • Sport coat/Balzer/with or without sweater
  • Traditional style black/brown shoes (open shoes not accepted)

Female

  • Business dress blouses or collared dress shirt/sports shirts with/without sweater
  • Skirt/dress slacks (not to exceed 4 inches above knees)
  • Sport coat/blazer
  • Dress shoes

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NGCC 2020 Competition Guide

Understanding Competition Deliverables

Your project is judged on three elements:                                             

  • Part I. Executive summary, Due January 31, 2020
  • Part II: Empirical Validation, Prototype or campaign results, Due Apr 04, 2020
  • Part III. Verbal presentation, Due Apr 04

 

Part I. One-page STEM Summary Guide, Jan 31

  • Cover page include following
    • Participants name
    • Grade
    • Project name
    • School name (and city and country if not obvious)
    • NGN2120 goal banner (refer to https://tinyurl.com/y5yjuovn)
    • Which NGN2120 goal you addressing?
    • What role do want the judges to play (e.g. investors, politicians, social impact entrepreneurs, industry influencers, etc.)
    • Are you presenting a STEM or POLICY solution?
  • One Page Executive Summary Page include following:
    • Introduction
    • Problem Definition
    • Solution
    • Influence Goal to call for action. what are you trying to convince the judges to do or believe? (e.g. give grant funding, make an investment, provide legislative support, etc.)

 

Part II. Empirical Validation w/ Prototype or Campaign, April 04

  • STEM Prototype
  • STEM solution present DEMO with prototype – functional or no- functional (functional will get high grade)
  • Campaign Results
  • POLICY solution present DEMO with campaign results, i.e. change.org petition response or social media marketing response and local promotional and awareness campaign. It is important to start campaign early

 

Part III. 10-Minute Pitch – Verbal presentation, April 04

You will make 10-minutes presentation in front of the judges with Microsoft PowerPoint presentation as per below template:

A: Introduction

  • Participant names
  • Name of your project
  • Grade
  • School name (and city and country if not obvious)
  • NGN2120 goal banner on top of the slide
  • Which NGN2120 goal you addressing?
  • What role do want the judges to play (e.g. investors, politicians, social impact entrepreneurs, industry influencers, etc.)
  • Are you presenting a STEM or POLICY solution?

 

B: Problem Definition

  • Define the problem you’re addressing
  • Who are the customers/users/recipients and how are they impacted?
  • What is the size of the market ($) or social impact opportunity (e.g. number of people impacted, total amount of time people are impacted)?

 

C: Solution 

  • What is your unique value proposition?
  • What is your 20 second elevator pitch ( “We are the Uber for bicycles” or “We are policy change maker to implement gun control measure”)

 

D: Influence Goal 

  • Why is your solution good?
  • Call to action: what are you trying to convince the judges to do or believe? (e.g. give grant funding, make an investment, provide legislative support, etc.)

 

E: Empirical Validation (Pick at least one)

 

Prototype Demo 

  • STEM solution present DEMO with prototype – functional or no- functional (functional will get high grade)

 

Campaign Results

  • POLICY solution present DEMO with campaign results, i.e. change.org petition response or social media marketing response and local promotional and awareness campaign. It is important to start campaign early

 

F: Analytical Validation

 

Financial Module 

  • First, DON’T bother about showing three years financials/sales
  • NEW GUIDE (February 28, 2020). This is what you need to present:
  • COGS (cost of goods)- unit cost
  • Expenses (direct labor + material + overheads)
  • Retail value (if applicable)
  • Underlying assumptions
  • What milestones you have achieved
  • How will you scale-up?

 

Sales & Marketing Plan 

  • Mention – Who are Your Stack Holders?
  • How are you planning on getting customers’ attention?
  • What will your sales process look like?
  • How will you reach to target market and what sales channel will you use?

 

Competitive Analysis 

  • Every business has competition in one or another form. If your startup with new market’s customers are using alternative solutions to solve their problems.
  • Describe how you fit into the competitive landscape and how your solution is different than the competitors.
  • What key advantage you have over competition. What is your secret sauce and other don’t? 

 

G: Summary

  • Restate your team name
  • Restate your call to action
  • Thank you
  • Open up for Q&A 

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STEM Prototype Guide

Often, something works on papers require justification. Or often theory require proof of concepts. Or, often something is difficult to build and require proof of concept. So, to assess the “buildability” of concept, you are required to create prototypes. A prototype is a working model of products or services that is used for verification purpose before it is implemented on a large scale. You can show functional or non-functional prototype. However, functional prototype will most likely will get high grades by judges. Here are important points on prototype need:

  • Prototype relevancy – The prototype is closely related to and relevant to the solutions of the given issue.
  • Informative – The prototype/poster helps communicates the complex ideas clearly.
  • Compelling – The prototype/poster inspires investment in the idea.
  • Design and Aesthetic – The prototype/poster presents data that is visually appealing and informative.

How to Build Hardware-based Prototype – Idea to Production

Four steps to get your first prototype built to turn your idea into a physical product.

 

How to build software application prototype

Wikipedia

Software prototyping is the activity of creating prototypes of software applications, i.e., incomplete versions of the software program being developed. It is an activity that can occur in software development and is comparable to prototyping as known from other fields, such as mechanical engineering or manufacturing.

A prototype typically simulates only a few aspects of, and may be completely different from, the final product. Prototyping has several benefits: the software designer and implementer can get valuable feedback from the users early in the project. The client and the contractor can compare if the software made matches the software specification, according to which the software program is built. It also allows the software engineer some insight into the accuracy of initial project estimates and whether the deadlines and milestones proposed can be successfully met

Axure (https://www.axure.com/)

Axure is like a Swiss Army Knife design tool for software prototype development project. You can make a quickly interactive prototypes that are viewable on web, desktop, table and mobile devices. You can also use it to create user flows and site maps, and have it export detailed functional specifications. You can create a visual, interactive presentation of your design ideas to communicate. And also, Axure can be used Axure for usability testing of concepts before invest in building them. Axure allows you to drag and drop icons that you can load in as library .rp files. You can get icons from the Axure website, sometimes they are free, most of the good ones cost money. The icons you drag and drop and get from Axure’s .rp files are icons that make up a website/app etc.

 

PhoneGap (https://phonegap.com/

Building applications for each platform–iPhone, Android, Windows and more–requires different frameworks and languages. PhoneGap solves this by using standards-based web technologies to bridge web applications and mobile devices. Since PhoneGap apps are standards compliant, they’re future-proofed to work with browsers as they evolve. Read an in-depth post explaining PhoneGap visually.

Twitter Bootstrap (https://getbootstrap.com/2.0.2/index.html)

Originally created by a designer and a developer at Twitter, Bootstrap has become one of the most popular front-end frameworks and open source projects in the world. Bootstrap is a free and open-source CSS framework directed at responsive, mobile-first front-end web development. It contains CSS– and (optionally) JavaScript-based design templates for typographyformsbuttonsnavigation and other interface components. Bootstrap is a powerful toolkit – a collection of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript tools for creating and building web pages and web applications. It is a free and open source project, hosted on GitHub, and originally created by (and for) Twitter

Facebook for Developers (https://developers.facebook.com/)

Wikipedia

The Facebook Platform is the set of services, tools, and products provided by the social networking service Facebook for third-party developers to create their own applications and services that access data in Facebook. The platform offers a set of programming interfaces and tools which enable developers to integrate with the open “social graph” of personal relations and other things like songs, places, and Facebook pages. Allocation the on facebook.com, external websites, and devices are all allowed to access the graph.

 

Salesforce (https://www.salesforce.com/)

Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that brings companies and customers together. It’s one integrated CRM platform that gives all your departments — including marketing, sales, commerce, and service.

Policy Campaign Guide

What Do We Mean by Policies?

Phil Rabinowitz, Community Toolbox

Policies are the written or unwritten guidelines that governments, organizations and institutions, communities, or individuals use when responding to issues and situations. They are generally shaped both by logic (e.g., get a medical history before you prescribe medication) and by people’s assumptions about reality, including:

  • Assumptions about the way things should be.These are formed by a combination of the values people learn as children, conventional wisdom (what “everyone knows”), local custom and community norms, cultural factors, religion, and “common sense” (which may be neither common nor sense). People’s conceptions of gender roles, relationships among groups, appropriate behavior, etc., are usually subject to this set of assumptions.
  • Assumptions about what works.These assumptions guide ideas about how to address a issue. They can determine, for instance, whether a community drug problem is approached with stricter enforcement and harsher punishment, or with an increase in funding for treatment and follow-up programs.
  • Assumptions about people.What people think they know about other people in general or about members of other ethnic, racial, or social groups. Sensitivity to other cultures – or its absence – has a lot to do with these assumptions, as do empathy and exposure to a variety of cultures and situations.
  • Assumptions about what’s good for the community. These assumptions may not reflect reality, or the needs and wishes of everyone in the community. Until the 1960’s, for example, the majority of the white population in many American communities – and not only in the South – honestly felt that separation of the races was best for everyone, and that African Americans were perfectly happy with their position in society. It is probably fair to say that most black people’s assumptions in this matter were quite different Policies can take different forms, depending upon whose policies they are, and what they refer to. They may be public or private, official or unofficial, expressed or unexpressed. Some common types of policies:

Official Government Policies 

These are usually discussed publicly and written down, either as or within laws and official regulations (such as those of a government agency, e.g. the Department of Education), or as statements of policy in government documents. It is, for instance, currently the US government’s policy to reduce the welfare rolls as much as possible, and to give welfare recipients only two years of eligibility. Official policy, in and of itself, can take many forms:

 

  • Simple recognition of the seriousness of an issue.
  • Support for addressing an issue, or for a specific position on that issue. A policy of support may mean that officials consider that issue when discussing others related to it, that it gets funding priority, etc.
  • The amount of funding available for a specific issue reflects government policy on the importance of that issue.
  • Funding and eligibility standards for publicly funded programs. Eligibility in this case might include the types of programs the government is willing to fund, which reflects its policy (and assumptions) on what will work to resolve the issue. It might also include who is eligible for services, which reflects official policy on where & what the need is.
  • Enforcement – or lack of enforcement – of existing laws and regulations. Whether laws and regulations are enforced strictly, leniently, or at all is an indication of policy toward the issues they cover and/or the entities regulated by them. The policy of many states is to consider marijuana possession a misdemeanor, for instance, because it is so widespread.
  • Actual laws or regulations are an expression of official policy, often brought about by pressure from citizens. Changes in official policy, leading to changes in laws and regulations, are also often motivated by public pressure.

 

Unofficial Government Policy 

Unofficial policies are shaped by the unspoken attitudes and assumptions held by policy makers. They aren’t generally written down anywhere, and may not even be stated to anyone, but they are powerful and long-lasting. They can become part of the culture of a governing body or agency, and, at least in part because they are unwritten, they are often incredibly difficult to change.

No one may admit that unwritten policies exist, or they may be so deeply ingrained that they’re viewed not as policies, but as facts. Assumptions about such issues as gender roles, race relations, or the relative status of particular groups may play a huge, but unacknowledged, role in public or corporate policy. Unofficial policies may have to be exposed and changed before any official policy change is possible.

Changing policies can be a crucial strategy in implementing community interventions. All too often, legislators and policy makers, local officials, corporations, or, as in the Penbrooke situation, state agencies don’t know about or entirely understand an issue, or have other reasons – inertia and self-interest among them – for making or maintaining policy that is outdated, ill-conceived, unfair, or just plain wrong. Changing such policy is one strategy for either implementing interventions or getting them funded.

Policies made by government bureaucracies & public services, i.e. police and fire departments 

These policies may cover such areas as:

  • How citizens are treated by agencies and departments, including disparities in the ways members of different racial and ethnic groups are treated.
  • How bureaucrats choose to interpret and enforce laws and regulations.
  • Whose emergency calls get answered, and how quickly.
  • The character and quality of schools and services in different neighborhoods.
  • The siting of environmentally questionable industries or facilities.

Policies of Businesses

All businesses, from the smallest mom-and-pop corner store to the largest multinational corporation, have official and unofficial policies about the ways they do business. Among most businesses’ policies are:

 

  • Hiring policies. Some businesses may favor minority applicants, for instance, while others may pay no attention to racial or ethnic background, or actively avoid hiring minority applicants. Some may try to hire workers from the local community, while others may simply look for anyone with the appropriate skills.
  • Compensation.Starting salary, regular raises, stock options, and fringe benefits all fall into this category. Compensation policy – including the difference between the pay of those at the bottom and those at the top of the company – reflects the business’s view of employees’ importance.

Policies Adopted by the Community as a Whole

While there may be no discussion or complete consensus about what community policy actually is, communities do have policies on issues and other matters. During the darkest days of the Civil Rights Movement, for example, it was community policy in most communities in the South to maintain segregation, often by any means necessary. In many affluent communities, it is clearly a community policy that education is important, and worth spending money on.

Community policy is made by a combination of factors, but two are by far the most important.

  • One is the opinions of community leaders – not necessarily those elected, but those whose opinions are listened to, because of their economic or political clout, or simply because of the respect they’ve earned. These may include influential business people, clergy, educators, or directors of organizations, among others.
  • The second factor is public opinion. Public opinion may be formed partially by the opinions of community leaders, but is also a product of people’s own experiences, the media, and the long-time standards and practices of the community. Segregation was unquestioningly accepted because it had been in force for a hundred years. Affluent communities are willing to spend money on schools largely because many of the parents in those communities themselves gained affluence through education.

 

Why Try to Change Policies? 

As we’ve discussed, policies usually grow out of people’s basic assumptions about the world. As a result, they’re often difficult to change, and efforts to do so require patience, sensitivity, and hard work if they’re to be successful. Why go to all that trouble? Why not just try to get around or ignore policy in the particular instance you’re concerned with, and leave it at that?

There are a number of excellent reasons why changing policies is worth the trouble. In general, it’s the difference between sweeping problems under the rug, and actually cleaning them up so they don’t appear again.’

 

  • Policies are the basis for community decisions.If you can change the policy, you may be able to affect – for the better, we assume – community decisions about an issue well into the future.
  • Attempting to change policies can start a community conversation about the issues in questionAttempts at policy change make clear that current policies are inadequate to deal with the issues, and start people thinking about why. The resulting discussions can change people’s thinking about other issues as well, and about the direction of the community as a whole.
  • Changing policy is easier in the long run than fighting the same battles over and over again.Even if you’re successful in gaining concessions on a particular issue, if you haven’t changed the policy toward that issue, you may have to work to gain those concessions again each time the issue arises. Addressing policy versus addressing the issue in a vacuum can be compared to addressing the root causes of a disease versus treating its symptoms. If you eliminate the causes, the patient can be cured; if you only treat the symptoms, he’ll feel better for a while, but the disease will flare up again.
  • Changed policies can change people’s minds and attitudes.One theory of child-rearing that seems to work reasonably well in practice is that if the child behaves in an acceptable way for long enough, that behavior becomes internalized as part of the child’s self-image. It is, in other words, no longer merely behavior, but part of what the child conceives as herself and the way she is. The same can be true of a community: once an issue is addressed in particular ways, the new policies themselves become part of the community’s self-image, and lead to long-term change.
  • Changed policies have effects on the next generation.As proponents of civil rights hoped, and racists feared, integration had its greatest effects on schoolchildren. A whole generation grew up feeling that having friends of different races was normal. It would be foolish to pretend that racial prejudice no longer exists in the US. It’s still a serious problem, but nowhere near the problem it was for the first hundred years after the Civil War, largely because of the generational effects of the enforcement of anti-segregation laws.
  • Policy change is one path to permanent social changeFor all of the reasons above, changing policies is really a way to change society. The policies in question may come from above, in the form of official government policies translated into laws or regulations. Or they may come from the grass roots, from unions and workplaces and social groups. Regardless of where they originate, changes in policy that speak to the real causes of social issues and to the real needs of the people involved lead to real and permanent social change.

When You Should Try to Change Policies

There are particular times when the political or psychological climate is right for changing policies. That doesn’t mean that you can’t work on policy change at any other time, but simply that it’s smart to strike while the iron is hot. If it’s a good time for change, you’re that much more likely to be successful.

  • Election years.Politicians are often more receptive to suggestions from constituents when an election – especially a close election – is on the line. If you’re seeking a change in official government policy, close to an election may be the best time.
  • When the issue first arises.Even though policies about the issue may already exist, it’s sometimes easiest to change misguided ideas before there’s been an investment of time and money in trying them out. If you can convince policy makers or the public that there’s a better way, they have less to lose by listening than they will after they’ve put their resources and reputations on the line backing something different.
  • When there’s a deadline for adding input to or making a policy decision.In 1995, for instance, when the federal Adult Education Act (which provided over $300 million for adult literacy) was up for renewal or discontinuation, adult educators and learners in many states mobilized to testify at public hearings, write to members of Congress, and otherwise try to influence the final decision.
  • When a crisis is reached, and it’s clear the current policy isn’t working. If the community, for instance, has been responding to a drug problem with increased enforcement and punishment, and it’s continuing to get worse, people may be willing to try alternatives. By the same token, a government agency or foundation may be willing to try a new program or approach when it has become clear that what they’ve been funding hasn’t been particularly effective.
  • When a particular event or circumstance puts your target population at risk.A state fiscal crisis can often result in the threat – or reality – of a reduction in services, for example. You may have to address policy to stave off the threat.
  • When public opinion has reached critical mass.Policy makers often – very often, in fact – lag behind the public in their judgment of what people actually think and want. The public may be more progressive and be behind the change you’re aiming for. If that’s the case, then it’s a perfect time for a policy-change campaign.

Another circumstance when public opinion can be your guide is when the public has become fed up with the policies of a particular business or institution. That entity might then be convinced to change its policies out of self-interest.

How Do You Change Policies?

The fundamental guidelines for changing policies are the 8 P’s:

  1. Planning, using a participatory strategic planning process.
  2. Preparation, including doing all the necessary research and becoming expert on existing policies.
  3. Personal contact with policy makers, other change agents, and anyone else you have to deal with.
  4. Pulse of the community: knowing what the community’s attitudes are, what citizens will accept, where to start in order to be successful.
  5. Positivism, framing policy changes and their outcomes in a positive light.
  6. Participation, including everyone affected by or concerned with the issue in planning and implementing policy change.
  7. Publicity for your effort in general and for your suggested policy changes – and the reasons for them – in particular.
  8. Persistence, monitoring and evaluating your actions, and keeping at it for as long as necessary.

Preparation: Prepare well for changing policies. You’ll need a firm foundation for the work you’re about to do. Changing policy is one of the most difficult – and one of the most effective – means of changing the community or the society for the better. To do it well, you’ll have to prepare. Conduct the necessary research to get to know as much as possible about the issue. Make yourself or your group the acknowledged expert, the one individuals, groups, and the media contact when they want information on your issue. Your research should confirm or establish that the particular policy change you’re seeking is, in fact, appropriate and helpful, with no disastrous unintended consequences. If research shows the opposite, you should rethink your strategy, and look for change that will have a positive effect on the issue.

  • Know, or get to know, the current policy intimately. That includes knowing the current policies, laws, and regulations inside out, and knowing who actually makes and influences policy, who supports current policy, etc.
  • Know who your allies and opponents are, who’s open to argument or to public pressure, and who’s ideologically flexible or inflexible. Be particularly aware of who your most difficult opponents are, and of their arguments. They may be people who have all the facts and their interpretation of them at their fingertips, can quote statistics, and can speak or write convincingly about their point of view. They may, conversely, be people who are willing to lie, make up statistics, and misrepresent your point of view. In either case, you’ll need to be ready to counter their arguments and attacks.

Planning: Plan carefully for changing policies. In order to ensure that your overall strategy makes sense, and that changing policies is a necessary and appropriate part of it, strategic planning is essential. If you haven’t yet engaged in a participatory strategic planning process that involves representation from all groups affected by or concerned with the issue, stop, back up, and do so now. It will take time and effort, and may result in your changing some of your ideas, but it will pay huge dividends in the long run. If the situation you’re dealing with is an emergency, you may not have the time to develop a formal strategic plan, but you can strategize with a group and consult with others who’ve been in similar situations. Planning, even if it has to take place in a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks, always leads to better results than simply doing whatever comes into your head at the time.

The ideal is to have done your planning before emergencies or the need to act immediately arise. If your group is newly formed to deal with an emergency, you may not have that choice. But if your group has existed for a while, and its purpose is to address the issue at hand, the development of a strategic plan should have been – or should be – one of its first activities.

Personal contact: Establish and maintain personal contact with those who influence or make policy. All politics is not only local, as former House Speaker Tip O’Neill said, but all politics, at bottom, is personal. Personal relationships are the key to successful advocacy of all kinds, and changing policy is no exception. If you can make a personal connection, not only with policy makers, but with opinion leaders, and even opponents, you can get your phone calls returned, make your voice heard, keep argument civil, and maintain a level of credibility far greater than you could if you were only a name or a face. Some of those with whom you might want to establish personal contact:

  • Legislators and their aides.
  • Local elected and appointed officials. Especially in small communities, this is easy to do – in general, these people are your neighbors. Even in large communities, officials are usually interested in what citizens, especially those who represent sizeable constituencies, have to say, and are willing to meet with you.
  • Individuals at regulatory and funding agencies. Very few of the folks who work at these agencies are the faceless bureaucrats everyone fears. They can in fact be extremely helpful, whether the policies you’re concerned with are statewide, or have to do with funding or local enforcement of regulations. They can provide information, speed up applications or complaints, and generally make your life easier.

In return, you should try to make their lives as easy as possible. Do what you say you’ll do, completely and on time. Be unfailingly pleasant and cooperative, even in difficult situations. If it’s clear you’re doing your best to be helpful, they’re likely to return the favor.

  • Key individuals, and contacts at groups and institutions in the community. Opinion leaders, clergy, business leaders, members of target populations, members of service clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.) and other community institutions – the more people you know, the more community support you’ll be able to mobilize when you need it.
  • Directors or others at other community-based organizations, initiatives, and coalitions. It’s particularly important to maintain personal contact with organizations with which you already have a common purpose. It’s much easier for all of you to call on one another if there are personal ties, and being able to present a united front is powerful.

Pulse of the communityTake the pulse of the community to understand what citizens will support, what they will resist, and how they can be persuaded. You have a far greater chance of success if you set out to change policies in ways that the community will support, or at least tolerate, than if you challenge people’s basic beliefs. When it’s possible, it makes sense to start where the community is. That may mean putting off your final goal, and working toward an intermediate one that the community can support. Many campaigns base their whole strategy on this kind of approach.

There may, of course, be times when the moral issues involved demand that you address the core issues regardless of the community’s position. The Civil Rights Movement in the US, which demanded voting rights, integration, and equal justice under the law for African Americans, is a prime example. The injustice involved was so great, and the attitudes of communities so entrenched, that nothing would have been served by halfway measures.

Positivism. Where you can, choose tactics that emphasize the positive. The old adage, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar,” applies to policy change as well. Suggesting incentives (tax breaks, for instance) for doing the right thing, rather than punishment (special taxes) for doing the wrong thing, is one way to accentuate the positive elements of a proposed policy change.

Tax breaks for doing the right thing and tax increases for doing the wrong thing really have the same results – the same people benefit, and the same people pay. The difference, however, is that in the first case, some people gain something, where in the second case, other people lose something. Incentives put a positive spin on what could be seen as a negative consequence.

On the other hand, research seems to show that people are more likely to take action when they have something to lose. The possibility of using both incentives and punishment may be one to consider in some circumstances.

There are many ways to emphasize the benefits of policy change.

  • Recycling saves tax money and brings in income for the community. A healthy environment reduces medical costs. Attention to worker safety reduces time lost from accidents and injury, and saves money in the long run.

In Bellevue, Washington, an environmental group conducted a study that showed the dollar value – in the millions – of trees to the community in absorbing pollution and stormwater runoff. As a result of the study, the community enacted laws for the preservation of green space and tree cover, and the planting of more trees.

  • Less violence and fewer drugs on the street leads to a more vibrant and satisfying community life, more opportunities for recreation, and better opportunities for youth.
  • A safe working environment means less stress and greater feelings of security for workers, leading to greater productivity at work, and better family lives.
  • A cleaner environment, preservation of open space, and public art all bring people beauty in their daily lives.
  • Physical and health.Lower stress, safer streets, less pollution, etc. all result in greater general health and physical well-being.

Participation. Involve as many people in the community as possible in strategic planning and action. Try to engage key people particularly – opinion leaders, trusted community figures – but concentrate on making your effort participatory. That will give it credibility, encourage community ownership of the effort, make sure that a wide range of ideas and information are considered in developing a plan and action steps, and encourage community leadership of the effort.

Publicity. Use the media, the Internet, your community connections, and your imagination both to keep people informed of the effort and the issues, and to keep a high profile. You want the community to be aware of your policy-change efforts, to know how and why you’re trying to change policies, and to understand why change is necessary. You can use everything from straight news stories to street theater and demonstrations to get the message out. Publicity will help you gain and maintain community support, which will greatly increase your chances of success.

Persistence. Policy change can take a long time. You have to monitor and evaluate your action to make sure it’s having the desired effect, and change it if it’s not. And you have to be prepared to keep at it for as long as it takes if you hope to be successful. As with all advocacy work, policy change takes a long-term commitment.

The rest of the sections in this chapter discuss specific tactics and how to use them effectively. The guidelines above – the Eight P’s – should help you understand how best to apply any of those tactics to realize your overall strategy of changing policies for the benefit of the community.

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