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Advocacy Insights: Our Impact at the Legislature in 2024

A group of young preschoolers are following the lead of a teacher during Advocacy for Children Day

Stephannie L. Lewis


On May 20, we marked the official end of the 2024 Minnesota legislative session. This was an exciting session for me personally, as it was my first in my new role of Associate Vice President of Advocacy and Community Impact. In this position, I oversee all of our work building community relationships, standing in coalition with our cross-sector partners and advocating for systems change across all levels of government.

Having had the opportunity to walk alongside our nonprofit partners and communities during my four years at Greater Twin Cities United Way, I look forward to continuing the momentum of our advocacy team – finding new ways to bring our communities into the legislative and policymaking process for lasting, positive change.

Advocacy can’t wait

This moment couldn’t be more critical. In the aftermath of the 2023 legislative session, we’ve seen significant impact from the sizable investments made by the state in areas like housing, food security, and early child care. These dollars are improving the quality of life for families and communities.

And yet, in conversations with our nonprofit partners and community stakeholders, we recognize that work is still needed to ensure the sustainability of policy changes and accessibility of funding.

Thankfully, there is a palpable energy for change among lawmakers and advocates – and the voices of our partners are helping chart a new path forward for lawmakers. Simply put, it’s an exciting time to be advocating at the Capitol.

This year, we were pleased to see several critical policy shifts and targeted investments that we championed at the legislature:

  • Increased funding for Minnesota’s Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program, helping more families who are at risk of homelessness stay in their homes
  • More than $50 million in funding for childhood literacy and pre-kindergarten programs, ensuring more young learners have the opportunity to succeed
  • $50 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds to promote multifamily housing development, deepening our state’s investment in affordable housing

Uplifting trauma-sensitive child care

Through our 80x3 initiative and our partnership with the Start Early Funders Coalition, United Way has been a vocal advocate for supporting children in their earliest years through new funding streams and policies to support trauma-sensitive care in our state’s early child care sector.

This year, these efforts culminated in a consequential policy shift. Starting in July, the Early Learning Scholarships Program will expand its priority list for children dealing with traumatic circumstances, making scholarships available for more families. This expanded priority list will soon include children with a parent who is incarcerated, has experienced domestic violence, is undergoing substance use treatment or is receiving mental health treatment. These scholarships will make high-quality child care and education more affordable and accessible for families impacted by adverse childhood experiences – putting additional state resources in place so that more children can have a great start.

And despite a last-minute date change due to heavy snow – always a risk when planning a March event – we were overjoyed to once again bring together more than 350 families, educators and child care allies to sing, dance and speak up for children and families at this year’s Advocacy for Children Day in April. In partnership with Kids Count On Us, we successfully facilitated more than 90 follow-up visits between community members and lawmakers – helping maintain legislative momentum for children and families this session.

Learn more about Advocacy for Children Day from our 2023 video.

Links in the chain of progress

It’s easy to talk about this work in terms of short-term wins – in new dollars or new programs. This year, and in past years, we’ve had much to celebrate.

And yet, we know that lasting change is not a short-term project. Strong advocacy depends on deep, relational work – the kind of engagement that’s difficult to summarize in a few bullet points. But this work is worth celebrating, too.

The relationships we’ve made with lawmakers around key United Way priorities such as 211 and homelessness prevention, for example, are already spurring exciting conversations about what’s possible in 2025 and beyond.

And while it is easy to focus our attention on the spectacle of the legislative session, we know that true advocacy happens year-round. I am excited for Greater Twin Cities United Way to continue to show up in new spaces and at new policymaking tables to pursue our vision of lasting change.

You can come along with us on this journey by connecting with us on social media for action alerts, advocacy events and other ways to get involved. You can also help support this work with a gift to our Community Impact Fund – investing in advocacy to create lasting change and supporting the changemakers who make it possible.

Stay Connected

About the Author

Stephannie L. Lewis is the Associate Vice President of Advocacy and Community Impact at Greater Twin Cities United Way.

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