Annie E Casey Advocacy Learning Lab

The Advocacy Learning Lab (ALL) is an online resource to help you and your colleagues build and maintain high functioning advocacy organizations that can promote the needs of children and families. It began with our over 25 year commitment to funding the KIDS COUNT Initiative including support for an organization in every state to produce state and local data on the well-being of children and families and then use this data to affect public policy.

In 2010, the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommitted it support to strengthening state based advocacy in a measureable way. We recognize that it is close collaboration, knowledge sharing and continued improvement throughout our networks that fosters success. To begin the development of the Advocacy Learning Lab, the Annie E. Casey Foundation partnered with more than 40 leaders, including senior KIDS COUNT leaders, technical assistance providers, key content professionals in outside networks and foundation experts to craft and vet key competencies of highly effective state advocacy organizations. We agreed on 83 core competencies for effective advocacy. These competencies are clustered into six domains:

  1. Strategic Leadership and Decision Making
  2. Organizational Development
  3. Data Analysis
  4. Policy Advocacy and Engagement
  5. Strategic Communications
  6. Pursuit of Equity Diversity and Inclusion

The core competencies are the backbone of the Advocacy Learning Lab. In the overview section there is a copy of the six main areas, the 24 sub areas and the 83 competencies. The site was designed to help you navigate easily throughout each of these six area. The structure is as follows:

Six main areas are color coded on the home page. All content associated with this area will have the same color code throughout the site. If you click on Strategic Leadership there will be a drop down menu. This will have a description and a video of a KIDS COUNT leader describing application of this area.

  • After the main areas are the sub areas, which also lead with a description.
  • The competencies are found within each sub area. These include a pdf of the narrative description of why this matters, how to do it, best TA providers to support this area, top 5 resources and then a longer list of related resources. At this time, the major content for the competency is in the pdf. If you find a resource you like you have an option to email it.

All resources are color coded to the appropriate competency areas, this includes both the searchable resources (i.e. reports, templates, toolkits, etc.) as well as the technical assistance providers represented on the site. TA providers and KIDS COUNT organizations also have profile pages to learn more about what they do and contact information so that you can connect with them directly. We anticipate adding more committed advocacy organizations to the site to improve on knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Over the years the national network of child advocates, our national policy partners and the foundation have produced an enormous volume of knowledge about promising solutions for the complex challenges facing children and families. This knowledge is housed on hundreds of websites and hard copies are often buried on our shelves. The Advocacy Learning Lab has been designed to put the very best knowledge from the field at the fingertips of all staff and board members. We believe this will promote peer learning and accelerate the strength of the field. The Advocacy Learning Lab has also been designed so that more people can see the whole of the work. Too often we get caught in silos and have no easy way to learn about all of the competencies needed to be effective in multiple domains. A special feature of the site is background on the key federal and state policies in 18 domains of public policy affecting children and families. We also believe that advocates need to be Intentional in their advocacy for the needs of children of color. Competencies and resources in the area of race equity and inclusion are woven throughout the site.

We have built this the site with contributions from over 100 state and national leaders in the field of child advocacy. Over 25 experts wrote the narratives for all the competencies. The intent is to put the very best knowledge about the competencies and related resources at the fingertips of each and every staff member and your board, if you choose.

The Advocacy Learning Lab was developed by and is in service to the field of child advocacy in America. We welcome your feedback as you use the site.

To request a personal password, please email Cheryl McAfee at

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