Tool 4: Using the Campaign’s Stories

The Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign is designed to be a repository for stories from the field that demonstrate the impact of the supports and services providers deliver to their communities, day in and day out. From the stories we actively pursue to show the world the value ANCOR’s community brings to the stories we find in the news that beautifully capture what true community integration looks like, we want you to draw from this growing bank of resources as you conduct outreach to policymakers, philanthropic organizations and more.

In This Section

  • Guidance for finding stories
  • Guidance for leveraging stories
  • Related resources

Still navigating Tool 3 (Identifying & Developing Your Story) and not quite ready to tell your own story? No problem! Follow these step-by-step instructions for how to leverage the dozens of stories you’re already equipped to share.

Browse Recent Stories

    • Navigate to the Included. Supported. Empowered. website at wehaveastake.org.
    • Use the “Stories” link in the navigation menu or scroll down to see the latest stories. (Note: The most recent six stories will be displayed by default; use the “Load More” button to find older stories.
    • Click on any story headline to dive in. In most cases, you’ll find a teaser of the story, along with a link to read the full version of the story in its original form.

Browse Recent Videos

    • Navigate to the Included. Supported. Empowered. website at wehaveastake.org.
    • Use the “Videos” link in the navigation menu or scroll down to see the latest videos. (Note: The most recent nine videos will be displayed by default; use the “Load More” button to find older videos.
    • Click on any video thumbnail image to dive in. In most cases, you’ll find a YouTube video embedded on the page with a brief description; in some instances, you’ll need to click through to view the video on the website where it was initially published.

Search Specific Stories

    • Navigate to the Included. Supported. Empowered. website at wehaveastake.org.
    • Click on the magnifying glass icon on the right-hand side of the navigation menu to expand the search field.
    • Enter in specific search terms to find stories that might be a good fit for your outreach. For example, if you’re interested in stories from your state, search using the full state name (e.g., use “North Carolina” rather than “NC”). Or, if you’re interested in specific topics, use broad search terms to find related stories (e.g., searching for “employment” will yield stories about individuals with I/DD who succeeded in a competitive employment program with the help of a job coach).

Now that you’ve found great stories and videos, what’s next?

In a very general sense, you’ll be best served if you can identify a specific audience for your outreach, craft a specific ask to make of that audience, and use the story or video to reinforce the need for your audience to take the action you’ve asked of them.

To understand how this works in practice, imagine that advocates in your state are seeking to increase DSP wages by urging support for a bill in the state legislature that would mandate an increase in the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates. One easy and meaningful way to encourage your elected official(s) to support the rate increase initiative would be to send them a letter or email that:

    • Explains the current challenges you experience in recruiting and retaining qualified DSPs.
    • Lays out how an increase in the reimbursement rate would help alleviate the problem.
    • Articulates how you’d be in a better position to serve people with I/DD in your community after the bill’s passage.
    • Expresses your gratitude for their support of I/DD service providers.

To reinforce the messages in the email described above, you could include links to stories and videos that you identified on the Included. Supported. Empowered. website. For example, to drive home your messages about the challenges you currently face, you could link to this in-depth story about the DSP workforce crisis from Delaware Online. Then, to reinforce the message about your ability to serve more people in the community, you could link to the video of Peter’s story, which paints a vivid picture of the success that’s possible when people with I/DD have the supports they need to live, work and participate in community life.

The remainder of this section outlines additional guidance for the types of audiences you may consider reaching out to, as well as the key messages you might consider sending in conjunction with stories and videos from Included. Supported. Empowered.

Identifying Your Audience

While we envision the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign to be a resource that fuels your advocacy, simply telling you to reach out to “policymakers” is a broad proposition. Moreover, the stories, tools and resources made available through the campaign have broader application than the policymaker community. Therefore, you may want to consider the following groups of people as potential audiences to which you can reach out with stories and videos from the campaign.

    • Federal Policymakers
      • The U.S. Senators for your state
      • The U.S. Representative for your congressional district
      • Federal agencies, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) or the Administration for Community Living at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (ACL)
    • State Policymakers
      • Your governor’s office
      • Members of your legislature (state senators, representatives, delegates, etc.)
      • The state’s department of human services
      • The state’s Medicaid agency
    • Local Policymakers*
      • Your mayor’s office
      • Members of your city council
      • The state’s department of human services
      • County councilmembers, county commissioners or your county executive
    • Philanthropists
      • Grantmaking organizations, such as your local community foundation
      • Corporations with a footprint in your community, especially those that practice inclusive hiring
      • High-net-worth individual donors
    • Volunteers
    • Family members of individuals served by your agency
    • Individuals served by your agency
    • Members of the press

As you likely surmised, the above list is not a comprehensive list of the people whose influence is critical to your ability to successfully include, support and empower people with I/DD in the community. Rather, this list reflects some of the stakeholder groups that can be helpful in creating a more inclusive community, and who can be persuaded to deepen their engagement in your work and with the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign with the help of some of the campaign’s stories and videos.

* Note: Although local policymakers do not set policies related to I/DD supports and services, they are often key to influencing lawmakers at the state and federal levels. Moreover, local policies can often have an impact on state and federal policies, and vice versa. For example, adjustments to reimbursement rates at the state level may interfere with minimum wage laws established at the municipal level.

Actions to Encourage
While the previous subsection identifies eight broad audiences you may want to consider engaging in the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign, the table below offers ideas for the actions you might consider asking those audiences to take.

Audience Sample Asks
Federal policymakers

Urge the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to establish a Standard Occupational Classification recognizing Direct Support Professionals as an official occupation.

Ask members of your state’s congressional delegation to support key policy priorities (learn more by visiting the ANCOR Amplifier.

State policymakers

Encourage your state legislator to vote in favor of a bill that would increase the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Invite the state secretary of health and human services to visit your agency during DSP Recognition Week.

Local policymakers

Request that your county commissioner write a letter to the state’s Medicaid director explaining how proposed rate cuts would conflict with the county’s efforts to expand economic opportunity through its minimum wage increases.

Ask your mayor’s office to issue a proclamation establishing a citywide DSP Recognition Week in your community.

Philanthropists

Offer potential high-net-worth donors free “VIP admission” to community events hosted by your agency, such as a gallery opening that features the work of individuals with I/DD.

Write a letter to the CEO of a local corporation practicing inclusive hiring that urges deeper commitment to people with I/DD as a natural extension of their ongoing leadership in the community.

Volunteers

Host a career fair and invite volunteers to participate, and then match volunteers with individuals you serve to provide coaching on apply and interviewing for jobs, building a résumé and other professional development activities.

Invite high school students seeking to fulfill their community service requirements to shadow a DSP for a day and learn more about the challenging and rewarding aspects of this potential career path.

Family members

Encourage parents of children and teens with I/DD to write and share their stories with blogs, magazines and other publications that cover topics like parenting, Autism and neurodiversity.

Urge family members of people with I/DD to participate in a rally at the statehouse to advance a particular policy, and facilitate their participation by offering transportation, child care, etc.

Self-advocates

Ask individuals with success stories to speak at a community outreach event hosted by your agency.

Encourage individuals you support to answer questions and have their photo taken for a story writeup that could be published in your monthly newsletter, on the Included. Supported. Empowered. Facebook page, etc.

Members
of the press**

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper explaining the DSP workforce crisis and articulating the need for additional investments in people who make community inclusion possible.

Submit a fundraising event or other community outreach event to be included in the community calendar section of your local news station’s website.

** For more ideas and information about engaging members of the press, see Tool 7 (Engaging the Media).


    • An Introduction to Advocacy: Although written for advocates seeking progress on issues related to financial security,Putting Prosperity Within Reach was designed by Prosperity Now to be a starting point for how to engage in advocacy, no matter your level of experience.
    • The ANCOR Amplifier: One of ANCOR’s key offerings, the ANCOR Amplifier is your digital home for finding the latest opportunities to take action on policy issues related to I/DD supports and services, resources for honing your advocacy skills and more.
    • Tools for Effective Advocacy: Bolder Advocacy is a nonprofit organization committed to building the capacity of other nonprofits to mobilize their supporters. Bolder’s website is a treasure trove of resources for advocacy of all kinds, at all levels and on a wide array of issues.

Need Assistance Using This Tool?

Get in touch! Reach out today by emailing info@wehaveastake.org or by calling 703.535.7850, ext. 100.