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Upcoming Webinar

Apr 14, 2021 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Dianne Miller, Cornell’s Senior Director of Federal Relations, to learn about the Cornell Advocacy Program (CAP) and how you can use your experience, perspective and voice to support policies that benefit higher education and Cornell. You don’t have to be a political expert to successfully engage policymakers – we’ll provide you with the information and tools you need. Tune in to the webinar and learn how you can get involved and make an impact.

Register Now

Program Overview

The Cornell Advocacy Program (CAP) equips our dedicated alumni with the tools they need to advocate for policies that benefit higher education and Cornell. You don’t have to be a political expert to be a successful advocate; you only need to know a few basics about the policy process, information about what motivates legislators, and a familiarity with the issues on which you're advocating.

As a member of CAP, we will provide you with information, keep you apprised of current public policy news affecting Cornell and higher education, and alert you when we would like you to contact your elected representatives. Please join now to lend your voice in support of legislative and policy positions that advance Cornell’s mission and goals.

Find more information and resources to engage with your representatives by clicking through the three focus areas below.

Focus Areas

Advocate for financial aid programs that enable students of modest means to attend Cornell without undue financial hardship.
Ensure endowments remain a perpetual and self-sustaining source of support for universities and their missions. Work with Cornell to oppose taxes on these vital resources.
Maintain the U.S. competitive advantage in innovation, technology and national security by supporting investments in scientific research.

Alumni in Action

portrait of Shane Dunn

Shane Dunn '07

Senior Director of Development and Alumni Relations
Brandeis International Business School

“The more authentic stories and opinions based on experience that policymakers hear, the better policy we will get...sharing personal stories — short vignettes or anecdotes — definitely seems to move the needle.”

portrait of leslie wheelock

Leslie Wheelock J.D. '84, MBA '84

Of Counsel at Birch Horton

“Cornell alumni reaching out to elected officials provides Cornell a voice...By speaking about their experience at the university, [alumni] can educate our elected representatives far better than any piece of paper or any other information can.”
Watch Video


Amplify alumni voices

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), in its September / October 2019 edition of Currents, profiled how colleges and universities are rallying their alumni online to engage as legislative advocates.

Read more


How does the Cornell Advocacy Program work?

We will communicate with you regularly about news and events that affect higher education. When public policy issues that impact Cornell arise, you will be notified and encouraged to engage with elected representatives via letters, phone calls, social media, and town-hall or in-person meetings. We’ll provide you with the information you need, including guidance and contact information, as well as more in-depth assistance if you’re willing to meet with a representative in person. We also encourage Cornell Advocacy Program members to share their activity with us in order to give others in the program inspiration and insights into how your advocacy is making a difference.

What do Cornell Advocacy Program members do?

Members of the program stay informed about the public policy issues that impact Cornell and communicate the importance of these issues to elected officials as well as to other stakeholders within their local networks. Using the resources provided on the Cornell Advocacy Program website, members of the program may be asked to write letters, engage through social media, make phone calls and talk to legislators.

How can I make an impact?

As more people question the benefits of higher education, advocates are vital. Your engagement can help to ensure a continued bright future for Cornell, for our students and for generations of students to come.

How much of a time commitment will I be making if I join the Cornell Advocacy Program?

While there are no time requirements and all activities are purely voluntary, even a few minutes of your time could make a big difference.

How are Cornell’s advocacy priorities determined?

Cornell’s Division of University Relations, in coordination with university leadership and the Board of Trustees, develops local, state and legislative priorities on which to advocate. Once those priorities are determined, University Relations develops a plan of action for engaging alumni and friends of the university to advocate on behalf of those priorities.

Is the Cornell Advocacy Program a partisan organization?

No. The Cornell Advocacy Program is a nonpartisan group of Cornell alumni that engages elected officials and policymakers from both sides of the aisle to promote the interests and legislative priorities of Cornell and higher education.

Does the Cornell Advocacy Program endorse candidates for elected office?

No. Cornell University and the Cornell Advocacy Program are prohibited by state and federal regulations from endorsing candidates for public office.

Does the Cornell Advocacy Program focus its efforts on state or federal government?

The Cornell Advocacy Program engages at the federal, state and local levels of government. In New York state we advocate in favor of investment in higher education and other issues affecting Cornell. We also advocate at the federal level, where decisions are made that determine the country’s investments in research, student financial aid and other key priorities that have an impact on Cornell and its faculty, staff and students.

I’m not a lobbyist. Isn’t “advocacy” a form of lobbying?

Informed and engaged citizens are critical to ensuring that lawmakers have the information they need to make important policy decisions. Citizens who advocate on issues of concern to them are engaging in a protected form of speech that does not generally fall under the state and federal rules defining lobbying.