A little over two years ago, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in North Carolina made a significant investment in GJP’s nascent policy efforts. With a gift of $150,000 in July 2010, Babcock paved the way for GJP to redraft Georgia’s expungement statute that ultimately was included in HB1176 at the end of the 2012 legislative session. One of the hallmarks of the Babcock Foundation is the manner in which they seek input from their grantees. They ask a lot of thoughtful questions before, during, and after a grant period. For GJP, these questions and the conversations that ensued helped focus our efforts and, we believe, supported the likelihood that our outcomes would be positive.
We recently completed our final report for this original $150,000 grant. Again, Babcock asked good questions. Following is a much-abbreviated answer to this one: What lessons have you learned to improve your work and increase the success of your constituents?
- Being a direct-service provider lends credibility to policy work and is powerful witness to problems that can best be addressed legislatively.
- Coalitions are important – and so are unlikely partners. GJP is fortunate to have conservatives and progressives around our table.
- A strong, informed and engaged sponsor is key. We were honored to work with Rep. Jay Neal on this bill.
- Comparative research packs a punch. Georgia’s legislators care about what other Southern States are doing.
- Stakeholders want to be helpful; give them opportunities to do so. Former clients, donors, nonprofit partners, friends – so many people took action when asked.
Georgia Justice Project has been fortunate to work with the program staff of the Babcock Foundation, and we’re pleased to share what we’ve learned with others who might be interested in engaging in policy advocacy.