Opinion Blog

Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

A Cut-and-Paste End-of-Year Letter for Education Advocates

By Rick Hess — December 20, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Every year around this time, my inbox and mailbox overflow with a lot of similar holiday missives from a host of advocacy organizations. It has me thinking how much more advocacy these groups could do, if senior staff weren’t devoting time to penning, revising, and editing these letters. So, in the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d offer up a time-saving alternative. Below is a cut-and-paste letter that’s just about ready to go. Fill in the missing nouns, and, voila, advocates can get back to their business at hand.

Dear XXXX,

We’re about to conclude another successful year for [INSERT CAUSE]. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support of [INSERT CAUSE] and share a few triumphs from a very successful 2018.

It goes without saying that we at [INSERT ORGANIZATION] are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together and grateful to have learned so much from visionary leaders and allies during this past year. We began 2018 by launching [NAME OF NEW STRATEGIC PLAN], with a focus on cultivating human capital in order to accomplish [GOAL OF STRATEGIC PLAN], and I’m proud to say we end the year on track to meet our enumerated metrics.

As our nation struggles with looming challenges surrounding [INSERT FAVORITE CRISIS] and lags international competitors like [INSERT NAME(S) OF FAVORITE HIGH-SCORING PISA NATION(S)], it’s critical that we give [INSERT CAUSE] the attention it deserves. Happily, I can report that our remarkable team—in concert with so many of you—is working to do just that.

Due to our efforts and the stories of millions of happy parents, students, and teachers—like those at [NAME OF A SCHOOL] where results show [IMPRESSIVE METRIC]—public support for [INSERT CAUSE] is increasing. When I’m out talking about our work, I frequently mention [NAME OF YOUNG PERSON], who overcame [CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCE] and now [INSERT GASP-INDUCING ACCOMPLISHMENT]. That’s a testament to the transformative power of our work and truly lends our conference calls, white papers, and Twitter activity a special urgency.

It’s a privilege to collaborate with such dynamic partners to launch new initiatives, scale successful efforts, identify and disseminate best practices, and [SOMETHING REALLY IMPRESSIVE-SOUNDING]. We’re proud of our research-to-practice partnership with [A RANDOM PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITY] and our commitment to community-based solutions, as in [A RANDOM LOW-INCOME COMMUNITY]. These efforts are yielding profound, life-altering results and we’re proud to be part of it.

We are particularly proud of our work bringing teachers and school leaders to discuss [INSERT ISSUE] with legislators. These practitioners demonstrate the very real nature of our movement and reflect its diversity, making a powerful case for why [INSERT CAUSE] is essential if we are to provide all students with a high-quality education.

Of course, policy reforms like [INSERT RECENT REPUBLICAN POLICY PROPOSAL] threaten to divide us. But we here at [INSERT ORGANIZATION] are still committed to cultivating strong relationships with both Democrats and Republicans in Washington, DC, and around the nation, especially such valued champions as [VALUED CHAMPION ONE] and [VALUED CHAMPION TWO].

I’ll close by noting that none of this work to advance [INSERT CAUSE] would be possible without your continued support. So I want to say thank you for all that you’ve contributed and encourage you to continue your generous support.

Happy holidays and wishing you a wonderful new year.

Best Wishes,


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.