An effective advocacy campaign utilizes a variety of different tactics, each of which is designed to reach a particular communications target or serve a particular purpose.  Unless these tactics form a unified story, though, they do not work towards their broader legislative, legal, political, and public opinion goals. 

To allow advocates to offer a common narrative across issue areas and geographic regions, we create communications tools containing messaging guidance, talking points, and sample communications and media materials.  Organized around core values and critical issues, these resources offer advocates substantive ideas on how to incorporate the most effective frames into their own work.  In this way, the efforts of social justice organizations and leaders across the country can form a single resonant voice calling out for universal opportunity.

Type Title Datesort icon
Page Marking the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Resources for How to Talk About Katrina 10

Photo by Diane Greene Lent © 2006

Photo Credits Diane Greene Lent © 2006

Aug 19 2015
Page Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

May 29 2015
Page Expanding Opportunity: Talking about HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulations Apr 17 2015
Page The Opportunity Agenda Is Pleased to Introduce our New Fellow, Tracy Van Slyke

The Opportunity Agenda Is Pleased to Introduce Our New Fellow, Tracy Van Slyke

Download this information (PDF)

Nov 19 2013
Blog Post Watch Your Mouth! Ten Phrases that Progressives Should Retire in 2013

Watching our mouths should be this year's top resolution

Along with the usual New Year’s resolutions about exercising, getting more sleep, and being more patient with the kids, progressives should add better communications to their list. We have an historic opportunity to frame the public debate this year in terms of social justice, human rights, and opportunity for all. But that requires being smarter and more deliberate in the way we talk about the nation’s priorities and future. At the very least, we need to stop using certain words and phrases that erode support for progressive values and policies. Here’s my list. I’ll ask for yours at the end of this post.

Jan 8 2013
Page Communications Institute

Dec 7 2012
Blog Post What You Just Said Hurts My Head


We’re all familiar with the feeling of cognitive dissonance, when suddenly we’re forced to hold two contradicting ideas in our heads. Maybe we’ve just heard unflattering news about someone we respected, or have been presented with facts that challenge a deeply held worldview. As any communications expert will tell you, we tend to deal with this kind of dissonance by simply rejecting the new information as incorrect, unreliable, or purposefully misleading.

May 17 2012
Page Breaking Through the Clutter: Tips for Talking to the Mainstream Media About Economic Opportunity and Inequality in America

Download this document (PDF)

The mainstream media is a frustrating, but necessary, means of getting our ideas out to people who might support and join us. Here are a few ideas for getting beyond the distortions and clutter to reach everyday Americans:

Oct 26 2011
Blog Post Heeding the Voice of the 99 Percent


Photo by david_shankbone

When a group of young people camped out in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in mid-September to express their disappointment toward the way corporations have mishandled the economy, it barely made the local newspapers’ front pages. Four weeks later, and with hundreds of thousands of people joining the movement, Occupy Wall Street has captured the attention of national and international media, and it has provided a golden opportunity for lawmakers, intellectuals, unions, and President Obama to channel the participants’ efforts into their agenda.

Oct 17 2011
Blog Post When Social Media and Cause Engagement for Minorities Come Together


Photo by john_a_ward

The use of communications during the struggle for social justice in the United States is far from being a novelty. News spread quickly by word of mouth when black college students started a host of nonviolent sit-ins in several states almost 50 years ago, as The Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson noted. Today, civil rights activists, particularly African Americans and Hispanics, have found in social media a powerful channel to voice their support for a cause and generate cause engagement, according to a latest study by Georgetown University and Ogilvy PR Worldwide.

Sep 7 2011
Page Talking Points: Real Solutions, American Values

Read this talking points memo via Scribd.

May 10 2011
Blog Post Social Media, Opportunity, and Time 100


Photo by Philippe Martin

Most recently, Time magazine revealed yet another list of the world’s most influential people in the world, and this time Wael Ghonim, a Google executive from Egypt, is at the helm of this selected group thanks to his active participation during the revolts against the Hosni Mubarak regime by way of social media tools—primarily Facebook. What’s more, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made the cut for this list (his second mention in a row on this publication after being selected “Person of the Year” in 2010). Finally, Google’s CEO Larry Page was also included.

Apr 28 2011
Page Public Discourse on Immigration in 2010

Read the full report via Scribd.

Immigration in the Public Discourse in 2010 is the fourth public discourse analysis we have completed on the subject of immigrants and immigration reform and illustrates how the discourse has continued to evolve.

Mar 11 2011
Blog Post Chance and Change

This month, as protests swept the Middle East and toppled strongmen in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of American adolescents rushed to see rising teen pop star Greyson Chance in concert.  Trust me, there’s a connection.

Feb 22 2011
Communications Talking About Proposals to Change the 14th Amendment

On January 5, 2011, a group of state lawmakers and political operatives from Georgia and a few other states unveiled a scheme to attack an important constitutional freedom: the American Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Passed after the Civil War, the Clause guarantees that children who are born in America are American citizens. But these operatives would eliminate that constitutional guarantee, in a misguided attempt to address immigration.

Jan 30 2011
Communications Talking Points: Promoting Equitable and Sustainable Job Creation (2010)

This memo provides guidance for discussing greater and more equitable job creation with policymakers, media, and persuadable members of the public.

Sep 30 2010
Communications Talking Points: Talking About Solutions for an Equitable Economic Recovery (2010)

This memo offers communications ideas and guidance around messaging to promote an equitable economic recovery that includes all Americans. It is based on analysis of recent public opinion research and media coverage on economic issues, as well as strategic communications principles.

Sep 30 2010
Page Reproductive Justice: A Communications Overview

The reproductive justice (RJ) movement works to create a society in which all people have the economic, social, and political resources necessary to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Sep 29 2010
Blog Post YouTube and WITNESS Use Video to Promote Human Rights

Recently YouTube partnered with WITNESS, an international group that uses video to promote human rights, to begin a series of blog posts that will demonstrate and explore how film has become an integral facet of the worldwide human rights initiative.

Jun 21 2010
Page American Opportunity: A Communications Toolkit

This toolkit represents the best thinking about how to use the Opportunity Frame from the communications professionals at the SPIN Project, the leaders of The Opportunity Agenda, other communciations professionals engaged in defining the Opportunity Frame, and grassroots leaders form across the country working on critically important issues.

Jun 3 2010
Blog Post Talking About Racial Equity in the Age of Obama

A unique challenge faces advocates for meaningful dialogue on racial inequality and injustice in America. As people of color have made even modest gains in education, economic security, and professional opportunities over the past few decades, some Americans have increasingly insisted that racial discrimination is largely a thing of the past. Today that sentiment is more widespread and vocal than ever, just a few days after what would have been Dr.

Jan 20 2010
Communications Talking Points: Ten Lessons for Talking About Racial Equity in the Age of Obama (2010)

RaceInAgeofObama.pngExperience from around the country shows that discussing racial inequity and promoting racial justice are particularly challenging today. Some Americans have long been skeptical about the continued existence of racial discrimination and unequal opportunity. But with the historic election of an African American president, that skepticism is more widespread and more vocal than ever.

Jan 20 2010
Page Talking Human Rights in the United States: A Communications Toolkit

Human Rights Day serves as an opportunity to tell key audiences why the United States should consider dignity, fairness, and human rights in domestic policy decisions. Several national debates loom in which these values should be central, namely health care and immigration.

Dec 11 2009
Page Telebriefing: Talking About Human Rights At Home

November 19, 2009 | Telebriefing slides and audio available.  Toolkit also available.

Slides and audio are now available for our recent telebriefing—Talking About Human Rights At Home

Dec 4 2009
Blog Post Nonprofit Technology: Social Network Sites and Immigration Reform

This past summer, The Opportunity Agenda conducted a scan (PDF) to determine the state of immigration advocacy on the social web, looking specifically at the following: blogs that frequently cover politics and reach a mass audience, Twitter, YouTube, and the two largest social networking sites (Facebook and MySpace). This research built on a similar scan we conducted in 2007.

Dec 4 2009
Blog Post Americans Believe in Government...When it Works

On issue after issue, President Obama is locked in a struggle for the hearts and minds of the American people. At issue—transcending health care reform, economic stimulus, the bailout of banks and automakers, and beyond—is the role of government in our society.

Dec 2 2009
Blog Post Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup: Californians on Immigration

For much of this decade, immigration has been an important topic on the public agenda. Nowhere is that more true than in California. The state is home to 9.9 million immigrants, its governor is an immigrant, and it is a border state on the front lines of the debate over immigration reform.

Nov 6 2009
Communications Toolkit: Talking Human Rights in the United States (2009)

At The Opportunity Agenda, our mission is building the national will to expand opportunity in America. We believe that respect for the full range of human rights—economic, social, cultural, civil, and political—is crucial to fulfilling that mission.

Nov 6 2009
Research Media Analysis: California Public Discourse on Immigration (2009)

CA%20Media%20Scan.jpgFor much of this decade, immigration has been an important topic on the public agenda. Nowhere is that more true than in California. The state is home to 9.9 million immigrants, its governor is an immigrant, and it is a border state on the front lines of the debate over immigration reform.

Oct 21 2009
Communications Talking Points: African Americans and Immigration (2009)

This memo lays out recent research with African American audiences and offers ideas about talking with them about immigration reform. However, it should be noted that while there do exist some strategies for talking effectively to African American audiences in particular, the key strategy should be to stay with the overall campaign narrative of workable solutions, values, and moving forward with urgency and leadership.

Oct 1 2009
Communications Toolkit: Talking About American Opportunity (2006)

TOOLKITTOUTHOME_0.JPGThis toolkit represents the best thinking about how to use the Opportunity Frame from the communications professionals at the SPIN Project, the leaders of The Opportunity Agenda, other communications professionals engaged in defining the Opportunity Frame, and grassroots leaders from across the country working on critically important issues. 

May 1 2009
Communications Talking Points: Closing the Racial Gap in Economic Opportunity (2009)

The guidance in this memo is designed primarily for communications between experts of color and policymakers, as well as “opinion leaders.” It is intended to inspire “persuadables” to make changes in policy and practice that will close the racial wealth gap, rather than to rally our base of existing supporters. The guidance draws on recent opinion research, media analysis, and experience from the field to offer promising approaches and messages.

Apr 20 2009
Communications Talking Points: Talking Immigration and Economics (2009)

When addressing immigration in the current economic climate, it is clear that advocates need to support arguments with facts. It’s equally clear, however, that facts will only go so far. Research shows that people are often most motivated by their values—and if data don’t support their deeply held beliefs, audiences will reject them.  So we need to shape conversations with values, and then support our arguments with the best data available. This memo sets forth some ideas about how to do this when it comes to opportunity and inclusion for immigrants.

Apr 20 2009
Communications Talking Points: The State of Opportunity Report (2009)

This memo offers guidance for using the 2009 State of Opportunity in America report, which examines various dimensions of opportunity, including health care, wealth and income, education, and incarceration. While expanding opportunity in America remains a goal of policymakers and advocates alike, this report finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality. Our recommendations to address this reality offer concrete ideas for moving us forward together.

Apr 15 2009
Communications Talking Points: Opportunity and Economic Recovery (2009)

This memo offers communications advice for talking about protecting and expanding opportunity during the current economic downturn.  It draws on recent opinion research, media analysis, and experience from the field to offer promising approaches and messages.

Apr 1 2009
Communications Talking Points: The Role of Immigrants in Economic Recovery (2009)

This memo sets forth themes and ideas on talking about immigration during the current economic downturn.

Mar 31 2009
Communications Talking Points: Expanding Opportunity in Colorado (2008)

These talking points offer communications advice for educating audiences about the importance of equal opportunity policies.  It integrates recent opinion research, media trends, social science literature, and experience from the field to offer promising themes and messages.

Mar 23 2009
Communications Talking Points: A Core Narrative for Immigration Advocates (2009)

It’s time to tell a new story about immigration in this country. We propose a flexible, values-based framework that we can use to start a variety of conversations: We need workable solutions that uphold our values and help us move forward together.

Mar 15 2009
Communications Talking Points: Talking About the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration (2008)

This memo provides advice on talking to broad audiences on human rights at home, in light of the 60 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Outlined here are some principles that support domestic human rights campaigns and foster a long-term strategy in furthering a pro-human rights agenda.

Mar 12 2009
Communications Talking Points: Health as a Human Right (2008)

These talking points provide advice on talking broadly about creating a health care system that works for everyone.

Mar 10 2009
Communications Talking Points: Expanding Opportunity For All - CERD (2008)

These talking points provide advice on talking with journalists and other general audiences about US compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Mar 5 2009
Communications Talking Points: The Supreme Court's School Diversity Cases (2007)

We recommend using the following messages to communicate the importance of pursuing inclusion in our schools, and outline the valid options for doing so.

Jan 29 2009
Communications Talking Points: Health Care Equity Talking Points (2007)

Telling the story of health care equity is a critical contribution to the country’s ongoing dialogue about how to improve our health care system.

Jan 26 2009
Communications Talking Points: Health Equity in New York (2007)

Talking about the inherent unfairness and inequalities in our health care system is a critical contribution to New York’s ongoing dialogue about how to improve it.

Jan 18 2009
Communications Media Tool: Five Ways to Promote Community Values in Your State (2008)

During an election year, how can you promote your issue with limited resources?  This sheet offers simple ways to promote the concept of community values, but you can use it to think about how to promote a variety of causes and issues. 

Jan 15 2009
Communications Toolkit: Community Values (2008)

commValuesToolkit.pngThis publication contains a balance of historical context, framing advice, resources, practical tools and strategies for moving toward a new political conversation.  

Dec 10 2008
Communications Mapping: Health Care that Works One Pager (2006)

Read about our first online mapping project,  This tool tracks the closure of hospitals across the city of New York and shows the racial and economic makeup of the affected neighborhoods.


Dec 1 2008
Research Media Analysis: Immigration On-The-Air (2008)

onTheAir.pngThe Opportunity Agenda commissioned a media analysis of broadcast news and talk radio, a gap in our previous scans which focused only on print media.

Nov 15 2008
Research Media Analysis: Immigration Coverage in Chinese-Language Newspapers (2008)

chineseLanguageNewspapers.pngThis report focuses on Chinese print media in the United States.

Nov 1 2008
Research Public Opinion: State Policy Makers and Human Rights (2008)

statePolicyMakers.pngThis analysis of the interviews in California and Illinois addresses how fifty policy leaders see human rights issues at the state level.

Oct 15 2008
Research Public Opinion: Meta-Analysis of Immigration Opinion Research (2008)

publicOpinionImmigration.pngThis report synthesizes public opinion research on key immigration issues in the United States at the time of its writing and provides a comprehensive assessment of literature, public opinion, and focus groups on immigration issues in the United States.

Oct 1 2008
Research Public Opinion: Human Rights in the United States (2007)

HRopinionResearch.pngThis research project examined the opinion of three key audiences on human rights in the U.S. as applied to social justice issues:  the American public, social justice advocates not currently using the human rights approach, and journalists who regularly cover social issues.

Sep 15 2008
Research Media and Public Opinion Analysis: African Americans on Immigration (2007)

This report examines African American public opinion about immigration, and immigration coverage in African American media.

Sep 1 2008
Research Media Analysis: Immigration in Spanish Speaking and Hispanic Media (2007)

This report analyzes Spanish speaking and Hispanic media coverage of immigration issues.

Aug 15 2008
Page 1000 Voices

The Opportunity Agenda's partner, Creative Counsel, and The Fledgling Fund are co-presenting the 1000 Voices Archive—a curated, national collection of video stories created by filmmakers and communities across the country.


Aug 15 2008
Page The Opportunity Agenda YouTube Channel

Check out our channel on YouTube.  See video clips that show the state of opportunity—or lack thereof—in America. We feature man on the street interviews, produced video spots, mini documentaries, and other videos that we encourage people to share with their friends, and hope that social justice advocates will use in their work.


Aug 1 2008
Page Tools & Resources

We produce a range of communications, legal, advocacy and research tools. 

Jul 15 2008
Video Video: Brian Talks About Equality

 A well-established African American contractor talks about how, even in his success, he still confronts bias.  We are reminded that equality must be protected if we are truly a land of opportunity.

Jul 1 2008
Video Video: Lily Talks About Education

A Bronx elementary school teacher talks about her students and the importance of public education.

Jun 15 2008
Video Video: Two New Yorkers

 A third-generation Italian-American and first-generation Chinese immigrant talk about health care and a living wage.

Jun 1 2008
Video Video: Desireena Talks About Community

 A Filipina-American media producer talks about the support she receives from the gay community, and why strong, supportive communities are a key to opportunity.

May 15 2008
Communications Talking Points: Immigration Integration (2008)

These talking points offer communications advice to policymakers, scholars, advocates and others seeking to promote immigrant integration policies at the state or local level. 

Mar 20 2008
Communications Sample Op-ed: Community Values - Des Moines Register (2007)

This Op-ed is an example of harnessing a media opportunity, in this case the Iowa caucuses, to frame a message.


Dec 15 2007
Communications Media Coverage: Heartland Presidential Forum - Campaign for Community Values (2007)

Held December 2, 2007 in Des Moines, IA, the Heartland Presidential Forum kicked off the Campaign for Community Values.  The resulting press coverage included a values dimension otherwise missing in much of the caucus coverage.


Dec 1 2007
Communications Talking Points: Immigration, Driver's Licenses (2007)

Originally written in November 2007, these are talking points for discussing New York’s (then) drivers’ license proposal.

Nov 1 2007
Communications Talking Points: Comprehensive Immigration Reform (2007)

This memo contains some suggestions on overall themes and some additional tools the immigrant rights movement has developed.

Feb 15 2007
Research Public Opinion: How to Work With Public Opinion Research (2004)

Siegel%20POresearch.pngThis basic primer was written by Loren Siegel based on her work managing the American Civil Liberties Union's public opinion research program during her tenure as Public Education Director (1991-2001).

Sep 14 2004
Syndicate content