Seeking Allies


  • To determine who will be allies for your project
  • To establish goals and expectations for allies


  • Whiteboard/chalkboard
  • Dry erase markers/chalk
  • Pens
  • Paper
  • Cut out issues
  • Toothpicks (or paper clips) (1+ per participant)
  • Ally worksheet (1 per participant)

Prepare Before

Plan various tactics that you can use for the Warm Up.

Warm Up

As participants enter the room, lobby them to take a toothpick.   Use varying tactics to get them to take what you are offering.


I was just lobbying for you to start liking toothpicks.  Did anyone want a toothpick after they saw me with it?  Did anyone want a toothpick after others started to ask for one?  Why do you think that seeing others with something makes us want it?

Have the participants try out lobbying for themselves using the set of issues attached.  Hand out one issue per participant.   The goal of each person is to try to convince others to agree with their topic.

ROUND 1:  For the first 3 minutes, everyone should try to lobby for their opinion to as many people in the room as you can.  You MUST give reasons why they should agree with you.

ROUND 2:  In this round, if you are convinced (or you were convinced before) by someone’s advocacy, you can JOIN their cause and lobby with them.  If you are convinced by someone else, you have to abandon your cause to support theirs.  If you are NOT convinced, continue to lobby for your issue.

Have participants continue this for 5 minutes or until some core groups emerge.


What arguments were convincing to you?

Was it hard to talk about your issue with others?

What techniques were effective?

Did anyone try a negative method (e.g., bribery, trickery, force)?  How successful was it?

What did you learn from this activity?


  • Being an advocate is a challenging task.
  • You’ll come up against people who don’t want to have anything to do with what you’re doing.  You may not change their mind about your topic.
  • When doing a project in school that is schoolwide, you must find allies within the school community.  These allies are the ones who will help you get your goals accomplished.
  • Some people make the mistake of paying too much attention to their adversaries and not enough attention to their allies.
  • There are some people who you MUST get support from because of who they are and how they can help you.


Have the participants think about their project.  Make a list of who needs to be involved in or informed about this project. As they brainstorm, make sure they include people who are at the school, people in the community and decision-makers—who within the City or the School District might need to know about your project?

Once they have made their list, as an entire class or in small groups, start to fill in the Ally Worksheet to fill in details for the following categories:

Who:  Who specifically do you need support from?

What:  What do you need from them?  Approval?  Support?  Resources?  Supplies?

When:  At what points in your project to you need to tell them about your project or need something from them?

How:  What is your method?  Email, phone call, presentation, conversation.  Who will do this?

Why:  Why should they be interested in your project?  How does your project help them?  What selling points do you think they might respond to?

Compile this into one chart that can stay in your classroom.  Each week, your group should check in on the ally list to make sure they are getting the support they need along the way, AND updating it as you make new allies.