Partners in Policymaking seeks candidates for 2019-2020 advocacy program

Minnesotans with disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities are encouraged to apply for Partners in Policymaking, a comprehensive advocacy training course. Deadline for consideration for the 2019-2020 course is Monday, July 8.

The program is provided to participants at no cost. Starting in September, the nationally recognized leadership training offers eight sessions over nine months.

“Our goal is that graduates gain a clear understanding of disability law and policies. The training increases their self-confidence in advocating for their needs,” said Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. “As they have learned to speak up for people with disabilities, many have become leaders in their own communities.” The Minnesota-launched program is also offered in most states and several foreign countries.

This highly acclaimed and finely-tuned leadership training taps into national experts and utilizes group participation. Described by many as life-changing, in its 32-year history, more than 1,000 Minnesotans have become leaders in their own communities. Participants become effective advocates for themselves, their children, and others with disabilities.

Sessions cover the history of disability and self-advocacy movements, inclusive education, supported living, competitive employment, and avenues to influence county, state and federal legislative processes. For convenience, the monthly two-day sessions are held on Fridays and Saturdays, from September to May. No session is held in December. The March session is on a Sunday and Monday, when participants prepare for and meet with legislators at the capitol.

Costs for the program are covered by a federal grant. Child care and respite allowances are given, and overnight accommodations are provided for those who travel from outside the metro area to attend. Mileage is reimbursed, and meals are provided. Sessions are held at the Crowne Plaza Aire, 3 Appletree Square, Bloomington, near Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Limited to 40 Minnesotans, participants are selected by a panel of Partners graduates and representatives of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. The first session for the 2019 to 2020 program year is September 13-14. Local experts and nationally recognized leaders in school inclusion, community organizing, governmental processes, and disability issues are among the presenters.

The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities introduced the Partners in Policymaking program in 1987, and, through expansion to other states and countries, has trained more than 27,000 people worldwide.

In March, the Partners in Policymaking class members made appointments with their senator and representative to discuss current legislation or to simply

get to know each other. This class
of 36 was chosen from statewide
applications are now in the seventh
month of the program and will
graduate in May.

The experience helped each person realize how they can be a valuable resource for their elected official when legislation relates to disabilities services.

“This program is based on the belief that systems change is best brought about through the efforts of those most affected by them, and we seek to arm these individuals with the tools needed to be successful in the public policy arena,” said Wieck.

Applications can be downloaded here. Those selected to participate in the program must attend all sessions and complete homework assignments. For further information, or to get an application form, contact Brenton Rice at brenton@togevents.com, or 612-242-6589.