RESULTS International Conference: A Young-Adult Gathering in D.C. to Fight Against Poverty
- Specific Topics
- Affordable Housing
- Scope of Influence
- Start Date
- End Date
- Time Limited or Repeated?
- A single, defined period of time
- Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
- Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
- Spectrum of Public Participation
- Total Number of Participants
- Open to All or Limited to Some?
- Open to All With Special Effort to Recruit Some Groups
- Facilitator Training
- Trained, Nonprofessional Facilitators
- Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
- Types of Interaction Among Participants
- Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
RESULTS hosts an annual conference in Washington, D.C. to educate and train citizens to fight poverty nationally and globally by influencing public policy.
Problems and Purpose
RESULTS is a 35-year-old nonprofit focused on helping citizens take action to end poverty and other ills in our society. They provide education, training, and support to prepare citizens to become effective advocates so they can advise policymakers, guiding them towards decisions that improve access to education, health, and economic opportunity" (RESULTS International Conference, 2018). RESULTS concentrates on poverty in the U.S. and globally. An annual four-day RESULTS International Conference in Washington, D.C. offers a series of workshops to kick off participant’s training. Participants chose which of the two focus areas to study. At the end of the conference an "Advocacy Day" is held and invites participants to use their knowledge by meeting with their Congressional delegate to discuss poverty issues (RESULTS International Conference, 2018).
Background History and Context
Since the early 1980s, RESULTS has been educating the public on critical, effective and holistic solutions to poverty. What began as a gathering of 12 people in a Los Angeles apartment has developed into a thriving grassroots organization. In 1985, ninety-five people gathered in Washington D.C. for the first annual RESULTS conference (Our Results, n.d.). Through this gathering, they were able to assist in securing $60 million for an oral rehydration therapy program. Since then RESULTS has been a key player in implementing national policies in regards to health care, child rights, and poverty intervention. This organization strives to empower citizens to become powerful voices to promote social change in regards to poverty nationally and globally. The organizers have decided to use a participatory process to empower participants and increase their confidence in advocacy.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Sponsored by RESULTS, the conference originated from a grassroots advocacy group in Los Angeles, California. The conference is sponsored by businesses including Johnson and Johnson, TB Alliance, Share our Strength, Raptim, and many more.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Although anyone with an interest in fighting poverty can apply to attend the annual RESULTS conference, many of the attendees are a part of the Real Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship. The fellowship is a year-long program that teaches young adults (ages 18-30) how to work with the media, communities, and policymakers to create change (The REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship to Fight Poverty, n.d.). Participants receive a crash course in advocacy at the annual conference, which is all-expenses paid for fellows. After attending the conference, fellows commit to joining monthly and bi-weekly conference calls in addition to 6 hours a week on their purposed poverty-focused project. Past fellows have done things such as publish op-ed, pitch editorial boards, start RESULTS groups in strategic areas, and engage with presidential candidates on the campaign trail. Those who are interested complete an online application and an interview with the Fellowship director. There are typically over 200 participants and 30 fellows.
Methods and Tools Used
Prior to attending the conference, the participants are required to contact their appropriate legislator to schedule a meeting for Advocacy Day. Conferences attendees are given access to a variety of materials that include:
- A sample meeting request letter is a template letter for participants to personalize to reach their legislator.
- Outreach 101 workshop is an online workshop that provides information to fellows on how to contact their Congressional delegate and prepare for Advocacy Day.
- The U.S. and Global poverty fact sheets provide current statistics regarding poverty. The United States fact sheet addresses statistics around: Food Insecurity, SNAP, tax policies that impact poverty, and housing/homelessness (U.S. Poverty Campaigns, 2018); while the Global fact sheet includes statistics about poverty rates and poverty-related issues worldwide (Global Poverty Campaign, 2018).
- Advocacy day best practices is a powerpoint that provides a script for participants to use in their meetings as well as the RESULTS 7 point guide to hosting a successful meeting. Participants are also given advocacy tools, such as community organization skills, tips on how to interpret the federal financial budget, and guidelines to starting a RESULTS club within their own communities, within their chosen workshops.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Participants attending the RESULTS conference may choose one of two tracks: U.S. poverty or Global poverty, based on their personal interest (RESULTS International Conference, 2018). Their chosen track influences the workshops they are able to partake in. The workshops include 15-30 participants and cover a variety of topics such as coordinating global campaigns, enlisting volunteers, and using grassroots funding (RESULTS International Conference, 2018). Workshops, as defined by Participedia are “are action-oriented spaces of learning and production. Participation in workshops is often very hands-on involving learning-by-doing, roleplaying, and experimentation” (Participedia, 2018). Trained facilitators encourage participants to openly discuss their personal experiences with poverty. This approach helps them prepare for the open dialogue with their legislative representatives during Advocacy Day. Although this deliberation process does not include participants making decisions on the formation of policies, participants are taught how to advocate for policies that they want to see implemented.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Influence: There is little evidence to indicate that Advocacy Day has directly influenced policy related to poverty solutions. Although RESULTS has trained citizens to become effective advocates, the impact on legislation is unknown. A longitudinal study is needed to look at the impact of Advocacy Day as it relates to influencing public policy. The initiative does educate participants on national and global poverty issues.
Participants remark about feeling empowered post conference and gaining new knowledge around action-oriented steps that are plausible for their own communities. Fellows are required to host community events to share the information gained at the conference and stay in contact with their legislator. Following the conference participants have been able to make a significant impact within their communities by creating clubs, organizing grassroots events, publishing information, and working with their city officials (Rodgers, 2016).
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Although little is know about the policy impact, the participatory experience has proven to be quite successful. The conference does a fantastic job on training advocates. However, there is no formal process for evaluation. Adding a research component to study the impact of Advocacy Day as it relates to legislators voting practices is critical. This research should involve pre and post surveys as well as interviews with legislators who have interacted with conference participants. Another important element to study is analyzing the skills participants gained. This could be accomplished by analyzing the pre and post results of participants knowledge on poverty. Research should include interviews with legislators who have interacted with conference participants. Participants typically report being satisfied with their outcomes of the conference and skills gained. An additional area of focus for the longitudinal study is analyzing the longevity of skills gained through the program.
2018 International Conference Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.results.org/skills_center/2018_international_conference_resources
2018 International Conference: Advocacy Day highlights. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.results.org/blog/the_2018_international_conference_advocacy_day_highlights
Global Poverty Campaigns. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.results.org/issues/global_poverty_campaigns
Our Results. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.results.org/about/our_results
RESULTS Educational Fund. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://campaignforeducationusa.org/members/detail/results-educational-fund
RESULTS International Conference. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://resultsconference.org/
The REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship to Fight Poverty. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.results.org/realchange
Rodgers, K. (2016, March 25). My day on Capitol Hill. Retrieved from https://www.results.org/blog/my_day_on_capitol_hill
U.S. Poverty Campaigns. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.results.org/issues/us_poverty_campaigns
This case study was written by Jordan Sanders, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and then edited. The views expressed in this case study are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.