Managing a Research Organization

The Center for Transportation Excellence asks:

Can Advocacy Associates help manage our organization? There is a clear need, an accumulation of data, and an identified funding source, but no operational plan.

Background

The inklings of CFTE began in the late 1990s when public transportation-friendly organizations started cataloguing ballot measures in support of new investment. At the same time, strong critics were rising up against transit investment with the backings of major libertarian and conservative think tanks. Although there was plenty of support for transit, there was not a single voice speaking on its behalf. In the early 2000s, several groups, including the American Public Transportation Association, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and the Surface Transportation Policy Project, got together with the idea of creating the Center for Transportation Excellence.

Advocacy Associates Strategy

Advocacy Associates became the management firm behind CFTE shortly after organizing the first Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference in 2003. We began keeping an official record of ballot measures across the country with a significant transit component, wrote regular Letters to the Editor in response to critics of transit or on behalf of new investment and provided communities with training tools to enable them to be their own best advocates.

As the use of transit ballot measures increased and the power of technology grew, Advocacy Associates steadily improved the tools in CFTE’s toolshed.

We have always kept the original goal of the organization in the foreground and stayed on track with regular meetings of an Advisory Board. Advocacy Associates has produced two major reports on behalf of CFTE and helped catalogue dozens of others as part of an online library. In 2013, Advocacy Associates began a third round of CFTE’s popular six-part webinar training series and hosted its fifth biennial conference with the largest attendance to date.

Results

For over a decade, Advocacy Associates has managed CFTE. It now provides regular trainings to transit agencies, advocacy coalitions, local governments, and individual advocates on how to message the benefits of transit to the public, respond to critics, build strong social media programs, and win ballot measures. Attendance at the biennial Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference continues to grow and the website is always adapting to provide the latest resources requested by our transit-loving friends in communities nationwide.