Communicating with Your Legislators

In Person

As a GEAR UP grantee, you are permitted to meet with Members of Congress and congressional staff to inform them, subject to certain guidelines, about the impact your GEAR UP program is having in their district and/or state. It is important that you ensure that:
  • Your discussions with Congressional representatives and staff are factual;
  • Federal funds do not subsidize your travel to Capitol Hill or District Office.

Meeting with a Member of Congress or congressional staff is one of the most effective ways to convey to educate your Members about GEAR UP and share the impact the program is having in your community.

When meeting with Members of Congress (or their staff), expect to visit for 15-20 minutes. If your meeting is with a Senator or Representative rather than his or her staff, the meeting likely will be even shorter: do not feel slighted.  Time runs out quickly, so make sure to prepare ahead of time to make the most of the opportunity to share important information.  If your meeting is with a staff person, be sure to leave materials that can be passed along to the Senator or Representative.

Download the NCCEP/GEAR UP Resource Guide and Effective Advocacy Toolkit to read tips on communicating with Members of Congress, planning a visit to a Congressional Office and view meeting an "outline."


By Telephone

You can search for your Senators’ and Representative’s contact information here or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators’ and/or Representative’s office.
  • Remember that telephone calls usually are taken by a staff member, not the Member of Congress. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment.
  • After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as:
    “My name is (YOUR NAME) and I'm a constituent of Senator/Representative (Name).;
    Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) to support funding for college access programs like GEAR UP"
    (or similar, depending on the current issue/campaign);
  • You also will want to state reasons for your support for GEAR UP, like:
    "GEAR UP is preparing the future workforce of our community by supporting low-income, minority and disadvantaged students prepare to enter and succeed in college.  We them to succeed to economic development and prosperity to our district/state."
  • Additionally, you can ask for your Senator’s or Representative’s position on the specific issue at hand and/or request a written response to your telephone call.

In Writing

Letters & e-mail

Personal letters (& e-mails) are still one of the most popular means of communicating with congressional offices. Following are some suggestions will help maximize your letter’s effectiveness:

  • State your purpose for writing in the first paragraph.
  • Be courteous and explicit, and include key information, citing examples to support your position.
  • Your letter should address only one issue; if possible, keep the letter to one page.

All Members of Congress utilize e-mail. Most often you will receive an automatic acknowledgment that your message has been received. At a later date, you will receive a written response addressing your issue.  E-mail correspondence should address the Member as “Representative” or “Senator” and should include your name, address, and district/state.

​Social Media

Most Members of Congress actively use Twitter and Facebook to help gauge public opinion as well as to communicate Senators' and Representatives' views and activities.  Following you'll find a social media directory for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives so you can contact using social media, too!

Fax

A fax receives the same attention as a letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service or e-mail.  Remember to include your contact information (name, address, and district/state). Most likely, you will receive a written response from the Member of Congress via mail.

Resources

GEAR UP Program Locator

Are GEAR UP services available in your state or region? You can find out by clicking on this interactive map. Here you will find where GEAR UP programs currently serve students, the size of their grants, how many students they serve and a link to their website for more information.