Advocacy Training Program

We offer regular, free, public, and/or custom advocacy training for individuals and organizations interested in influencing the state legislative process in Illinois. Our training begins with a set of basics, including information about how the process works and how to engage in the process in a constructive way. We also offer more in-depth training for seasoned advocates who are looking to be more effective working in partnerships or dealing with tough opposition. While our focus is on criminal justice reform, the training can be useful in other issue areas.


Friday, March 6

DePaul University

Arts and Letters Building, Room 112
2315 N Kenmore Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Saturday, March 7

Willow Creek South Barrington

Room B100
67 E. Algonquin Rd.
South Barrington, IL 60010

10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Saturday, April 25

Unitarian Church of Hinsdale

17 W Maple Ave.
Hinsdale, IL 60521

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Email janderson@restorejustice.org to RSVP.

THE BASICS  (1 – 2 hours each)

How It Works

  • Learn about legislative advocacy, and understand when and why it is useful
  • Familiarize yourself with how a bill becomes a law in Illinois
  • Develop skills to help you navigate a day in Springfield

Prepare Yourself for Illinois Legislative Advocacy

  • Identify your representatives
  • Practice key research tools to understand how representatives are influenced
  • Map your influence

Tell Your Own Story

  • Introduce yourself to policymakers
  • Develop your own “message triangle” to share your story quickly
  • Practice telling your story for advocacy purposes

THE ISSUE (1 – 2 hours each)

How To Talk About Criminal Justice Reform

  • Some basic facts about Illinois’ criminal justice system
  • Understanding different audiences
  • Speaking constructively with opponents


Difficult Conversations

  • Speak constructively with opponents
  • Work with unexpected emotions
  • Manage conflict

Plan For A Push

  • Set and vet your agenda
  • Identify champions and allies
  • Create good boundaries for working in partnerships and coalitions

Who usually attends?

  • Staff from non-profit organizations who are new to policy advocacy or want a refresher
  • Members of faith groups and clergy
  • Formerly incarcerated people
  • Family members of incarcerated people
  • Students at all different levels
  • Activists from movements or campaigns
  • Members of the gun violence prevention movement who are interested in learning more about CJ reform
  • Professionals who want to use their advocacy time more effectively

Organizations that have utilized our training:

  • Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Willow Creek Prison Ministry
  • Goldin Institute

What our trainees say:

“Thank you again for hosting the Advocacy Camp last week! It was such perfect timing for me as I started my new role at the [gov. criminal justice policy org] only a week earlier and needed a refresher course. I so much appreciate your thoughtful responses to the questions I’d been thinking about. You, Marshan, and Julie are excellent facilitators and I’d love to take part in any other trainings you may have in the future.” – young criminal justice advocate, new to role at government organization

“I think I am still on a cloud after your teaching last Saturday!  What a gift you were to our group. … We all learned so much, and you just have a great way of sharing your heart on a complicated topic!” – leader of prison ministry in suburban church

“Thank you! I learned so much. I have a nephew in IDOC facing a life sentence, this was his first offense.” – public health outreach worker

“I was going to write you a letter telling you how good your panel-hosting and  presentation were at the recent event at Lewis University, but then I went to Restore Justice’s website and saw something coming up soon. I’m free if you want me to attend [again]. I loved it!” – state senator

“I’ve done this training before but I keep coming because I learn something new every time.” – former juvenile lifer 

“I’m glad I came because as a gun violence advocate, I need to understand how this works and how to talk about things in a way that does not hurt other people.” – parent of gun violence victim

Restore Justice offers training, free of cost, to colleague organizations seeking to engage their own staff, board, participants, or constituents in the legislative process in Illinois. Please contact Jobi Cates at jcates@restorejustice.org to schedule a training.

  • Thank you for your interest.

    Please leave us a message and we will respond as soon as possible.

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Your Phone Number

    Your Message

  • Join Us In Our Fight To Restore Justice.

    Submit your email address to be notified of crucial legislative action items, fundraisers, and news about our progress.

    [mc4wp_form id="18939"]