Policy Brief and Advocacy Letter Assignment
Building on the topic the student used for the first assignment, this assignment will require the student to write a one-page policy brief and advocacy letter to be sent to their legislator. This assignment will be worth 40% of the cumulative grade.
A policy brief is used to convince the target audience of the urgency of the current problem or policy concern and present the need to adopt the preferred alternative or course of action outlined. It is commonly produced in response to a request directly from a decision-maker (legislator) or within an organization that intends to advocate for the position detailed in the brief.
Efficient policy briefs include several common features. Those features include:
- The brief is focused. All aspects discussed are focused on achieving the intended audience to take the requested action.
- The brief is professional and not academic. The usual audience is not interested in research or analysis conducted to produce the evidence. Rather they are interested in knowing the writer’s perspective on the problem and potential solutions, based on NEW and convincing evidence.
- The brief should be evidence-based. The policy brief serves as a communication tool produced by someone with a vested interest in the policy (stakeholder), therefore the target audience will only be convinced by arguments that are supported by evidence.
- The brief should also be concise. One page documents are the ones most likely to be read by busy lawmakers and their legislative teams.
The format of the brief should be written as a one-page single spaced document. It does not need to include a title page, running header, or abstract. However, all references in-text and the reference list MUST be in APA format.
The policy brief should include the following components:
- An interesting title to attract the attention of the reader.
- A clear and concise statement of the problem or issue.
- A short overview of the root causes of the problem or issue.
- One to two recommendations with a least two rationales with
supporting evidence to validate the recommendations made. Evidence should come from scholarly journals, not textbooks or
organization web sites. Three scholarly journal articles are required
to be used.
• Finally, the conclusion with a summary of the action the brief is
An advocacy letter is a way to influence the ideas and views of legislators or decision makers within an organization. It allows the writer to maintain contact with the legislator or decision maker, to keep the issue high on the priority list when the writer cannot meet with them personally.
The format of the advocacy letter should be written in a standard letter format. Proper title and language should be used. It should not be more than two pages long, as to increase the chances that the letter will be read by the legislator, his or her staff or decision maker. Letters maybe mailed or sent electronically.
The advocacy letter should contain the following components:
- Addressing the Letter – If the letter is concerning a Federal or State Bill or issue, it should be addressed to the Member of Congress or State Legislator who represents the student or if the issue is more local, it should be addressed to the decision makers who would be most concerned with the issue. Use the correct salutation.
- Introduction – Introduce yourself and offer a concise statement about the reason for the advocacy letter. If discussing a specific legislative bill, include the bill number.
- Health Policy Issue – In one to two paragraphs, accurately describe the issues raised, provide a clear position in favor of or opposed to, and offer specific examples of your concerns. Personal stories work well here.
- Legislative or Advocacy Recommendations – Directly ask for the action you are requesting. State why your position is important to that person and the constituents he or she is associated with.
Closing – Develop a closing statement and provide your contact information for any follow-up questions or to act as a resource for further information.
You can find examples of each of these in your book. Once your advocacy letter and policy brief has been reviewed by the faculty member, we encourage you to send it to the person whom your letter is addressed.
Components of the Policy Brief
Title and Statement of the Problem – The policy brief has an interesting title and the statement of the problem is clear and concise.
Root Causes – The root causes of the issue are addressed.
Recommendations – 1-2 recommendations for action are provided with solid supporting evidence.
Conclusion – Brief summary of the action the policy brief is asking for.
Components of the Advocacy Letter
Addressing the letter – The letter should be addressed to the appropriate person, who can best address the advocacy issue. Use the correct salutation.
Introduction – Introduce yourself; offer a concise statement about the reason for the letter. Include bill number if addressing a specific legislative issue.
Legislative or Advocacy Recommendations – Directly ask for the action you are requesting. Give examples of why is should be important to this person.
Closing – Develop a closing statement and provide your contact information for follow-up contact or request for further information.
References – One a separate page, in APA format, list the scholarly references used.
Health Policy Issue – Accurately and concisely describes the issue raised and provides a clear position (in favor or opposed) and offers a personal story or example concerning the issue.