Think College Policy Advocates
Since 2019, Think College National Coordinating Center and the Association for University Centers on Disability (AUCD) have partnered to offer an authentic opportunity for teams comprised of college students with intellectual disability and college program staff to learn about disability policy and advocacy. Pairs made up of a student and program staff member apply to be selected to participate in Think College Policy Advocates (TCPA) Training to learn the basics of advocacy, get updates on the latest issues, and contact their representatives in Congress to advocate in person in Washington, D.C.
2023 Application is Open
The 2023 application is now open. Applicants must fill out an application form and provide one letter of recommendation.
Click here for a complete description, application, and template for a recommendation letter.
Applications are due by April 24, 2023; decisions on acceptance will be shared on or about May 19, 2023.
If you have any questions or need help with the application, please contact Caroline Jurisich at AUCD: email@example.com.
Teams made up of one student and one staff person from a postsecondary education program for students with intellectual disability are eligible to apply for the TCPA training. Each member of the team must be interested in learning more about public policy and be able to commit fully to these online and in-person activities:
- Participate in a series of online training events to prepare all teams for the training and advocacy on Capitol Hill.
- Develop a brief document or video about their program, students’ success, and its impact that can be share with policymakers.
- Subscribe to AUCD’s weekly newsletter on policy in Washington D.C., Disability Policy News, or AUCD’s YouTube series Tuesdays with Liz.
- Participate in a Think College Emerging Advocates call to discuss topics of interest in inclusive higher education with other Think College policy advocates.
- Meet with member(s) of Congress and/or their staff to share information about their college program.
- Participate in a post-event summary interview to discuss the experience.
All registration costs to participate in the TCPA Training will be covered, and a stipend will be provided to cover transportation costs and two nights hotel. Meals will also be provided while in Washington, DC. Think College Policy Advocate teams will participate in four pre-conference group information calls and an in-person meeting in Washington, DC. Learning will continue in a series of follow up events after the in-person training.
Watch a mock Congressional Visit
In this video, you can see an example of a TCPA's visit to Congress. The meeting is with Think College Policy Advocate Helen Nash and Senator Wendy Rodgers from Arizona.
Hear from past Think College Policy Advocates
Arthur, a student at College of Alameda in California, applied for the Think College Policy Advocate program in 2022 to continue in his goals to grow as an advocate and leave a mark on history. Read a spotlight story about Arthur.
"If I could use a word to ... describe my time in Washington DC with TCPA, I would say “outstanding! The time we spent in Washington DC, the people we met, the work we did, the plans we made, what was shared by myself and others, the opportunity to meet the Congressional office staff (for the representatives of California)-- all of it was outstanding! "
Hari, a student at University of Maryland College Park in Maryland, joined Think College Policy Advocates to learn how to advocate to make college more inclusive to all people.
"I love my college experience. I want to advocate for all people with disabilities to have the same opportunity. Students with disabilities need the opportunity to go to college after high school."
Hannah, a student at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, attended the Think College Policy Advocate program in 2021 to learn more about policy issues that affect her day-to-day life.
"I came to [Think College Policy Advocates] because I was interested in learning more about government, especially housing and transportation. I want to keep learning more about that, because those are the biggest barriers in my life."
Kenneth, a graduate of UP at Western Carolina University, discovered new tools that self-advocates like him can apply to educate and influence local policymakers about inclusive programs and what students and graduates with disabilities need.
Kenneth notes that he especially learned a lot about “… how to stay involved in disability advocacy in the long term. The long-term resources and information about how to follow up with my local officials were really useful.”
Christi is the Director of the Office of Inclusive Services at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and is an experienced active disability advocate. She shared how being a Think College Policy Advocate helped her remember things she can do in her state and community to support people with disabilities broadly.
“[Think College Policy Advocates] reconnected me with the importance of connecting with my local legislators in Colorado. Meeting legislators in Congress and other program staff from across the country helped remind me that we need to continue talking about the work we do with stakeholders at all levels.”