Engaging your adult learners in advocacy is one of the best ways to garner support for adult education programs.

The COABE Ambassador Training program has helped educators and student leaders become advocates for adult education funding and resources at the local, state, and federal levels. It not only helps garner support for adult education programs, but also provides real world opportunities for learners to practice and apply their skills and knowledge.

The award-winning program was started in Arizona through Pima Community College’s Adult Education program and has since been adopted by COABE to help educators and learners across the country.

The training program consists of four major components that help with skills and knowledge development:

  • Awareness–learning statistics and research that support advocacy for adult basic education and high school equivalency credentials.
  • Stories–sharing student experiences that highlight the life-changing impact of adult education programs.
  • Public speaking–how to best share your story in-person, on social media, or by phone; what to say based on who you are talking to.
  • Meeting with officials–how to set up meetings; participating in mock meetings with public officials, how to continue relationships with officials after a meeting.

Students of all education levels are encouraged to sign up to become ambassadors. The program is designed to be flexible and incorporates teacher support throughout the process. Student ambassadors participate in COABE’s Capitol Hill Day events, state and local days on the Hill, and other activities. Many of the students graduate and continue ambassador work, utilizing their leadership skills as they are the best example of how adult education programs change lives for the better.

GED graduate and college student Megan Linzy shared her story:

I attended the Adult Basic Education and Literacy program at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges: West Davenport Center (EICC: WDC). After three years of studying, I graduated with my GED diploma in 2013. 

In 2020, the Dean of Adult Basic Education and Literacy at EICC: WDC Scott J. Schneider nominated me to represent Iowa as their Adult Basic Education Ambassador. I attended COABE’s Ambassador Training virtually in June of 2020. 

Due to my learning disabilities, I suffer from anxiety that has improved with education, but speaking in public was still a fear that I face even today. The Ambassador program gave me the tools that helped me build my confidence over time. 

As Adult Basic Education students, we must speak up if we want to create change in how adults are educated. The COABE Ambassador program is a course where you will learn how the government system works, who your representatives are, and how you can tell your story to help impact changed within your own personal communities and at a federal level. 

Since my graduation with my GED in 2013, I enrolled at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges to earn my associate degree in Education in Davenport, Iowa. Today, I am enrolled in online courses at Bellevue University, where I am earning my bachelor’s degree in Adult Education and plan to be completed in 2022. Today I am also employed full-time at the EICC: WDC as an Office Coordinator. I oversee the registration process of our Adult Basic Education students. 

Every day, students like Megan share their stories and show how powerful adult education is and the necessity to have funding to keep programs running and available to others.

The COABE Ambassador Training program is currently accepting new ambassadors and being offered in an online format. Please share this information with your students and encourage them to participate. To get involved, email Jessica Wabler at [email protected].