At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, one of the ways we work to improve access to education, income and health is by uniting our voices through advocacy. When we speak up and speak out, together, we show that improving our community isn’t just a goal—it’s a movement.
On March 1, United Way team members and supporters gathered in Austin for United Way Day at the Capitol, our largest and most impactful advocacy event during Texas’ legislative session. Throughout the day, our 24 advocates met directly with 30 local state legislators and their staff and voiced their support of our legislative priorities.
Read on to learn more about United Way Day at the Capitol, some of the key “wins” our advocates achieved this year and how you can get involved with our advocacy efforts.
United Way Day at the Capitol is an impactful, empowering and memorable experience for anyone who cares about improving access to education, income and health in North Texas. As Stephanie Mace, vice president of strong communities at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, explains, advocating to lawmakers doesn’t require an expert understanding of policy issues—just a passion for our community.
“Meeting with elected officials and advocating for policy change—especially at the Texas Capitol—can be intimidating and overwhelming for those who have never done it before,” she said. “One of the goals of this trip was to educate and empower advocates to know that their voice matters. Advocacy can be quick and easy, and elected officials want to hear from their constituents.”
Indeed, 14 of this year’s advocates had never participated in Day at the Capitol before. But each said their experience was empowering and eye-opening.
Vineeta Salvi participated in the trip to Austin as a first-time advocate.
“Everyone should do this at least once,” said Salvi, who joined the trip to Austin at the request of a friend. “The trip gave me a unique perspective into the legislative process in Texas.”
Salvi also said with so many interest groups vying for the support of lawmakers, you have to make yourself stand out—and meeting with lawmakers in person truly gets their attention.
“If we believe in something, we need to put in that same effort to gain the support of lawmakers,” she said. “If we don’t show up, we can’t count on anyone else to make our voices heard.”
By meeting directly with local lawmakers and sharing their perspectives, United Way advocates highlighted the importance of policy issues that stand to significantly impact North Texas.
“We advocate because we know that lawmakers hold the keys to systemic change,” Mace explained. “By building relationships at the Capitol, we put ourselves in the best position to reach our education, income and health goals.”
Mace said when all of us speak up and speak out with a united voice, we have the power to create meaningful change for our communities.
“Not all North Texans have the capacity and resources to build relationships with elected officials and follow what’s happening at the Capitol,” she said. “We use advocacy as a tool to keep the needs of our neighbors at top of mind in the Texas Legislature.”
This year’s Day at the Capitol resulted in important progress regarding our legislative priorities, which include increasing housing stability for low-income workers, expanding child abuse prevention programs, increasing access to school-based mental health services for children, and strengthening the 211 Texas information and referral network.
Key achievements from Day at the Capitol included:
We invite all North Texans to be part of the change by advocating with us throughout this year’s legislative session. If you’re interested in learning more, here are resources to get you started: