Skip to content

Navigate Local Policy & Governance

Sign up

Prepare yourself to run and govern by understanding the context around the biggest policy issues impacting your constituents, the stories and language your constituents use to speak about these issues, the governing authorities you will have access to once in office to affect these issues, and experts you can consult to dig deeper when needed.

Empowered To Run is developing an online course for each state, partnering with the top nonpartisan think tanks in your area and opening up their expertise to you.

Tell us which state course we should develop next!

Course Overview

Don’t worry – you don’t need to become a policy expert to run for office successfully or govern effectively. But to develop, build connections around, and defend your platform, it’s important to be solidly familiar with the major policies affecting your community: the basic background, the prevailing positions and narratives, and the political constituencies behind them. And to tune and eventually deliver on campaign promises, it’s crucial to understand the authorities and tools you will have in government, and where you may need the support of others. By the end of this course, you will be better equipped to navigate your state’s policy & governance terrain.

We will prepare you in six stages, answering key questions along the way:

  1. State of the State: We start with a quick overview. Who makes up your state and, in particular, your local community? What is the geography? What are the major sectors of the economy? What are the trend lines? And from this, where do you see opportunities and challenges ahead?
  2. State & Local Government: You’re interested in tackling these challenges and making positive change through government. We’ll first look at the institutions of government at the state, county, and local level – one of which you may be looking to join and others with which you may need to collaborate. What do they do? How are they structured? Where is the power?
  3. Policy Levers: Next we’ll walk through the tools to implement policy you would have access to in your desired legislative, executive, or judicial role. For example, what does the “power of the purse” look like in your state? Taxation? Regulation?
  4. Major Sectors & Systems of Pennsylvania: Public policy is generally directed towards groups of people and/or industry, so here we will provide brief background on the major sectors & systems represented in the state, like: health care, education, and energy, as well as labor and justice. How are these systems structured and how are they changing?
  5. Current Issues: All of the preceding sections build towards this penultimate module: running through the major issues currently affecting the state and the policy discussions around each. These policy discussions involve the potential of government, to use its policy levers, to influence a set of sectors in the state. We will cover many of the major issues debated in your state, for example: higher education access, broadband infrastructure, healthcare costs, paid family leave, overincarceration, and COVID-19 implications. Which are impacting your communities and how? Focus on only those relevant to you. We’ll give you background on the topics and the politics surrounding them, and prep you for your capstone project: engaging your local community to hear their voices on these issues.
  6. Next Steps: This is a solid foundation – but if and when you need further policy insight, you needn’t fend for yourself. Who can you consult? We will provide connections to policy expertise you can continue to draw on before and after election day.

You will complete the course having developed your own tailored policy briefing book with stories from your future constituents that you will be able to reference on the campaign trail and beyond.


Should I sign up?

We welcome and encourage any candidate or prospective candidate for state or local elected office to sign up. Whether you are actively running in the next election or considering running in a future cycle, this course will prepare you to engage on the issues that matter to your future constituents.

We also highly encourage candidates to bring along a partner from your (future) campaign team or kitchen cabinet with whom you can discuss issues and tackle assignments.

Where is it?

Instruction is conveniently online, accessible through our web platform and iOS and Android apps. Additionally, we will sync up during one-hour live session each week through Zoom video conference.

What is the structure of the course?

Lessons are split into bite-sized video lectures that you can easily fit into your busy schedules. Exercises and supplemental readings help reinforce and localize what you’ve learned. Empowered To Run staff and our state partners will facilitate the course and keep you on track with achievable deadlines.

In your capstone project, you will interview a diverse set of your own community members about the policy issues you’ve learned about, hear their perspectives, and capture their stories and language.

What are the requirements & commitments?

Requirements to earn your Certificate of Completion will be announced before the course launch.

We ask all participants to commit to providing periodic feedback during the course and agreeing to brief interviews with training staff before and after the course.  This allows us to further tailor and improve the course to fit your needs.



Reactions to previous courses taught by Empowered To Run

THIS IS AMAZING. I cannot even begin to explain how much pressure this takes off of me trying to figure this out on my own… I honestly loved it and I’d do it again in a hot second! It’s put me on the best start I could have asked for.

I can’t imagine figuring all of this out on my own; and given I am starting from scratch; it would have taken me a lot longer to find a mentor who could have helped me… The Empowered to Run course certainly has given me more confidence and shortened my timeline in running for office.

This is an awesome program! As someone who works on a lot of local (and often first time candidates’) campaigns, I can tell you that this is a solid model and will be sure to recommend it.

Share with your friends and networks