What’s in Store for Policy and Advocacy at Upswell Chicago

The best advocates plan ahead. They evaluate the tools in their toolbox, partners who can help them achieve their goals, and skillsets they’ll need to get to the finish line. With that in mind, we’ve highlighted some workshops being offered at Upswell Chicago, November 13-15, that can help policy-focused changemakers enhance their advocacy skills and create lasting change.

This year, the majority of our public policy- and advocacy-related sessions came from you through our Co-Create campaign, which generated hundreds of submissions. These workshops cover everything from local advocacy, storytelling, community movement building, and the science of behavior change. Look through the list, start planning ahead, and don’t forget to register for Upswell Chicago today! Early bird rates are in effect.


Accelerating Change through State and Local Advocacy

Feeling concerned about the political climate in Washington? Maybe you should shift your focus. In local and state government, elected officials are passing breakthrough legislation, introducing innovative policy, and enacting meaningful change. We’ll examine how tens of thousands of children across the country gained access to school meals through a strategy of state and local advocacy — and brainstorm ways that a similar approach could advance your cause and your mission.

Presented by Share Our Strength


Changing Policy Through Storytelling

While the United States has witnessed a recent wave of activism among youth, many of us still feel powerless to create change. Combat this “engagement paralysis” by learning how to empower yourself or others through the power of storytelling. You’ll discover real-world examples of personal struggles that translated into policy remedies, learn the steps for crafting a compelling narrative, and walk away feeling empowered to create change in your community.

Presented by Young Invincibles


How to Overcome Your Fear of Advocacy

As phobias go, talking to elected officials can rank right up there with spiders, snakes, and heights. But advocacy doesn’t have to be scary. By simply telling your own story, coupled with the latest research and data, you can engage naturally with decisionmakers at all levels. Whether you are a community organizer, philanthropist, nonprofit leader, or a dynamic changemaker in your own right, this session will equip you to be the best advocate you can be.

Presented by Americans for the Arts


Community Movement to Public Policy

With an increase in civic awareness and participation, movements such as Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives grew out of communities that raised their collective voice. For many, what began as grassroots protests and organizing evolved into a policy platform that reshaped the narrative in the national discourse around systemic racism, gun safety, police brutality, and voting power. This workshop will help you see how your community engagement can drive policy change and hold the government accountable.

Presented by Higher Heights


Understanding the Language of Democracy

Almost everything we do in changework is predicated on the ability to talk about what we believe and why it matters. And how we talk about democracy has become as charged as the complex issues at the heart of it. This is the basis of a new project aimed at understanding what our language means to everyday Americans. Join Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) for an immersive discussion about this project and what the findings mean for your work.

Presented by Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE)


A Digital Policy Roadmap for Civil Society

Civil society increasingly depends on digital data and infrastructure. This reality creates new “fences” for civil society action by everything from regulations on data privacy and ownership to corporate concentration across media. Despite efforts to improve digital security and data governance, civil society infrastructure groups have not adequately addressed the policy needs of nonprofits in a digital age. You will explore how digital public policy shapes civil society and how to build practical connections between civil society and digital policy experts.

Presented by Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society


Building Empathy and Empowerment Through Storytelling

Confronting individual bias and increasing empathy to build inclusive communities and enable individuals of all backgrounds to contribute and thrive have never been more important. And first-person storytelling furthers understanding better than facts alone. Learn how the power of storytelling can build trust and advance productive dialogue from Tea Rozman Clark, Executive Director of Green Card Voices. You’ll also gain insight into fostering understanding and inclusive communities through the group card game, “Story Stitch.”

Presented by Green Card Voices


Empowering Community Residents to Become Agents of Change

American laws traditionally have been shaped by donors, lobbyists, and others with the deepest pockets or best connections. So it comes as no surprise that public policies often neglect or deny equal opportunity to certain communities of race, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. In this workshop, you’ll learn a community-driven approach to advocacy that can be used to build the political power of historically neglected groups.

Presented by The Alliance for a Better Community


How to Create Resilient Systems Change

It might be tempting to worry that our best efforts to fix society’s worst problems will eventually give way to the status quo. But fear not! By learning how to shift the very conditions that hold inequities in place, you can create systems changes that are resilient and lasting.

Guided by the success of Thrive Chicago, you’ll practice using an action learning guide to assess systems change conditions and develop tactics that go beyond programmatic solutions to systems-level interventions.

Presented by Thrive Chicago


Oh, Behave! The Science of Behavior Change

People behave in peculiar ways. We plan to exercise in the morning, but when the alarm goes off for the fourth time…well, maybe tomorrow. And we know that flu shots save lives, but somehow we just never get around to getting one. Humans are supposed to be rational. But everyday experience tells us that’s simply not true!

Behavioral science offers a powerful framework for conceiving new solutions across all kinds of changework. Dive in and cultivate your inner behavioral scientist!

Presented by ideas42


The Power of Relational Organizing

The movement for racial and economic justice is often oriented towards campaign tactics and short-term victories. These tactics are rooted in strategies and narratives that demonize the other and hinge on funding models that turn volunteers into contractors, and community organizations into vendors. In this workshop, you’ll learn how relational, grassroots organizing can enhance personal formation and structural change. Learn how this approach can transform dialogue across difference and accelerate civic engagement.

Presented by PICO California


A Year of Resistance: What We’ve Learned, and What’s Next

The November 2016 election was a catalyzing moment for the U.S., and a moment of reckoning for the philanthropic community. The Roddenberry Foundation, in particular, was among the first to invest in and support activists and organizers at the forefront of resistance and our most pressing issues through its Roddenberry Fellowship. Hear from foundation staff and Roddenberry Fellows about their insights from the front lines, lessons learned, and their evolving work.

Presented by The Roddenberry Foundation


There is so much activity happening at Upswell, and this is just a small preview of what you can expect. Stay tuned for more activities tailored to advocates in the coming months, as well as information that can help you plan out your time to achieve the biggest bang for your buck. Learn more at upswell.org.



Types: Blog, Policy Update
Global Topics: Civil Society, Public Policy, Upswell, Voices for Good
Policy Issues: Lobbying & Political Activity, Nonprofit Operations