Navigate Pennsylvania Policy & Governance

Sign up for the course

June 2021 facilitated cohort

Prepare yourself to run and govern by learning the context around the biggest policy issues impacting your constituents, the stories and language your constituents use to speak about these issues, the governing authorities you will have access to once in office to affect these issues, and experts you can consult to dig deeper when needed.


The Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center team will be your guide.  For over 14 years, they have been the go-to source for rigorous, independent, nonpartisan, statewide policy research & analysis for Pennsylvania lawmakers and NGOs.


Thanks to the generous support of The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation, the $750/person tuition is waived for this cohort.  Sign up now while space is available!


* We will provide you immediate access to the course material upon completing registration. The course will formally kick-off Tuesday, June 15th.

Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center
The Heinz Endowments
The Pittsburgh Foundation

Course Overview

Don't worry - you don't need to become a policy expert to run for office successfully or govern effectively. But to develop, build connections around, and defend your platform, it's important to be solidly familiar with the major policies affecting your community: the basic background, the prevailing positions and narratives, and the political constituencies behind them. And to tune and eventually deliver on campaign promises, it’s crucial to understand the authorities and tools you will have in government, and where you may need the support of others. By the end of this course, you will be better equipped to navigate Pennsylvania's policy & governance terrain.

We will prepare you in six stages, answering key questions along the way:

Tablet with NPPG
  1. State of the State: We start with a quick overview. Who makes up Pennsylvania and, in particular, your local community? What is the geography? What are the major sectors of the economy? What are the trend lines? And from this, where do you see opportunities and challenges ahead?
  2. Pennsylvania Government & Political History: You’re interested in tackling these challenges and making positive change through government. We will look at the institutions of government at the state, county, and local level - one of which you are a part of and others with which you may need to collaborate. What do they do? How are they structured? Where is the power and how is it trending?
  3. Policy Levers: Next we'll walk through the tools to implement policy you would have access to in your desired legislative, executive, or judicial role. For example, what does the "power of the purse" look like in Pennsylvania? Taxation? Regulation?
  4. Major Sectors & Systems of Pennsylvania: Public policy is generally directed towards groups of people and/or industry, so here we will provide brief background on the major sectors & systems represented in the state, like: health care, education, and energy, as well as labor and criminal justice. How are these systems structured and how are they changing?
  5. Current Issues: All of the preceding sections prepare you for this penultimate unit: running through the major issues currently affecting the state and the policy discussions around each. These policy discussions involve the potential of government, to use its policy levers, to influence a set of sectors in the state. We cover over 30 major issues debated in Pennsylvania: from higher education access, broadband infrastructure, and healthcare costs, to paid family leave, policing, and shale extraction. Which issues are impacting your communities and how? Focus on only those relevant to you. We’ll give you background on the topics and the politics surrounding them, and prep you for your capstone assignment: engaging your local community to hear their voices on these issues. Understanding your constituents' lived experience completes your brief.
  6. Next Steps: Dig Deeper with Constituents & Experts:  This is a solid foundation – but if and when you need further policy insight, you needn’t fend for yourself. We will guide you in selecting additional constituents to speak with and provide connections to policy expertise you can tap as needed.

You will complete the course having developed your own tailored policy briefing book with stories from your future constituents that you will be able to reference on the campaign trail and beyond.

Each element of the course increases your EDG (Emotional quotient [EQ], Design quotient [DQ], and Government quotient [GQ]). (Read more about our EDG framework and why it matters.) This is our premier course for Pennsylvanians wishing to raise their GQ.



Should I sign up?

We welcome and encourage any candidate or prospective candidate for Pennsylvania elected office to sign up. Whether you are running in a 2021 local or judicial race, considering a 2022 state-level race, or looking out to 2023+, this course will prepare you to engage on the issues that matter to your future constituents.

We highly encourage candidates to bring along a partner from your (future) campaign team or kitchen cabinet with whom you can discuss issues and tackle assignments.  Please have your partner sign up on this page, as well.

Current elected officials and their staffs, as well as community organization staff, may also wish to sign up. Strengthen your tradecraft, preparing to deliver results for your community and communicate your successes.  Bring along at least one other member of your staff, if possible.

Where is it?

Instruction is conveniently online, accessible through our mobile-friendly web platform. Additionally, we will sync up during one-hour live session each week through Zoom video conference.

When is it?

This cohort formally launches June 15th and runs through July 27th. Live sessions will be held every Tuesday, 4-5pm, with an informal 'happy hour' from 5-6pm where you can mix and chat with others in the cohort.  You will get immediate access to the course material upon registration.

What is the structure of the course?

Lessons are split into bite-sized video lectures that you can easily fit into your busy schedules. Exercises and supplemental readings help reinforce and localize what you've learned. Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center and Empowered To Run staff will facilitate the course and keep you on track with achievable deadlines.

In your capstone exercise, you will interview a set of your own community members about the policy issues you've learned about, hear their experiences, and capture their stories and language.

What are the requirements & commitments?

Earn a Certificate of Achievement for completing the course and add it to your LinkedIn profile (if desired)!  To do so, complete the required number of localization exercises (15% of grade), engage in a set of discussions with the cohort (15%), complete the pre & post course survey (10%), and, most significantly, complete the capstone exercise (60%).  The complete details are listed in the course.

As an early participant in this course, we ask you to commit to providing periodic feedback during the course and agreeing to brief interviews with training staff to learn about your experience.



Reactions to previous courses taught by Empowered To Run

THIS IS AMAZING. I cannot even begin to explain how much pressure this takes off of me trying to figure this out on my own... I honestly loved it and I’d do it again in a hot second! It’s put me on the best start I could have asked for.

I can't imagine figuring all of this out on my own; and given I am starting from scratch; it would have taken me a lot longer to find a mentor who could have helped me... The Empowered to Run course certainly has given me more confidence and shortened my timeline in running for office.

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