Lunch & Learn Program

Creating an Annual Advocacy Plan: What’s in Your Toolkit?
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023

In advance of the approaching FY2024 Legislative session, we’ve assembled a panel of experienced advocates for children and families to discuss winning ways to develop a yearly advocacy plan. In this Lunch & Learn program, you will learn how to mobilize and engage others around your priorities, and focus your team on what needs to be done and how to get there.

We welcome these advocacy experts to the program: Stephanie Deible, program and partnership manager for the Michigan Nonprofit Association; Kadi Prout, associate executive director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families; Kellie Rankey, executive director of the Michigan Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs; and Trina Tocco, director of the Michigan Education Justice Coalition.


“The Early Bird’s Guide to Building Your Budget Ask”
Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Advocates working on behalf of children, youth and families are relentless when it comes to seeking financial resources for the programs and services vulnerable Michiganders need to improve their lives. In this Lunch and Learn webinar from Michigan’s Children, we call on a panel of intrepid advocates to tell us how they build a state budget “ask.” With the Governor’s team already looking at priorities for the FY 2025 state fiscal plan, Fall is the right time to get your recommendations before them. Join us for this online webinar starting at 12 pm Wednesday, October 25. Do you have a question for the panel? Please send your questions to

Meet our guest panelists: Patrick Brown, Executive Director, Michigan Adult, Community & Alternative Education Association; Christy Callahan, President, Early On Michigan Foundation; and Erin Skene-Pratt, Executive Director, Michigan Afterschool Partnership.


Is Paid Family and Medical Leave What’s Next for Michigan?
Wednesday, Sept. 20

With state Democratic leaders, notably Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, behind it, Paid Family and Medical Leave may be the next big thing for Michigan families. But with 77% of Michiganders without it, what needs to happen Under the Dome to get it through for all working families, especially struggling low-income earners from marginalized communities? We’ve assembled national voices and state advocates to explain the issue. Please join us, and learn how you can advocate for a plan that helps families remain employed during medical emergencies, or when welcoming a new baby or child. Our panelists include:

  • Julianna Carlson, Research Scientist, Child Trends; and author of Recommendations for Creating Equitable and Inclusive Paid family Leave Policies.
  • Christian Ko, Co-Chair, Think Babies Michigan initiative
  • State Rep. Jasper Martus, D-Flushing, Michigan Legislature
  • Hanna Schulze, President, People First Economy, Grand Rapids
  • Jaimie Worker, Assoc. Director of Policy & Advocacy, Caring Across Generations



Understanding the Federal Budget Process:
What Child Advocates Should Know this Year
Wednesday, August 16, 2023

This month’s presentation and roundtable discussion on the ongoing Federal Budget Process produced important information about programs for kids and families that could be threatened, and underscored the need for advocates to speak out. We’ve posted a recording of the session and other resources provided by guest speakers. Read about our panelists and access those resources below.

  • Kali Fox, regional manager for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. She is an 18-year veteran of the Senator’s staff, and her responsibilities encompass a 13-county region. Kali, who lives in Lansing with her husband and two rescue dogs, is a 2003 graduate of Grand Valley State University.
  • Noel Benson is a fiscal analyst with the House Fiscal Agency. Noel works on the budgets for School Aaid and the Department of Education. She graduated with a master’s in publc policy from Michigan State University, and previously worked for the finance department in the city of Flint.
  • Danielle Ewen is a policy and strategy consultant with the Sixth Street Associates, serving clients including philanthropic organizations, state and national advocacy organizations, and policy and research groups. She previously served as senior advisor to the Office of Early Childhood Development in the Administration for Children and Families (USDHHS), and oversaw the development of policy. Early on, she served as Director of the Child Care and Early Education team at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and as the Deputy Director of the Child Care team at the Children’s Defense Fund.
  • Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom is Co-Director of Research Capacity for the Washington, DC-based Children’s Funding Project. She has 20 years of experience working with community partnerships, philanthropic partners, and policy bodies that provide essential supports to children, youth, families, and communities. She has authored numerous publications, including Funding Brighter Futures; How Local Governments are Enhancing Investments in Kids. She is an alumnus of the University of Michigan with two master’s degrees in social work and public policy. The Children’s Funding Project routinely examines federal spending on children’s issues.


How to Build a Coalition around a Common Cause
Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Join us for this month’s Lunch and Learn, where we’ll be hosting a crucial discussion on coalition building and its significance in advocacy. Hear from experts who specialize in grassroots and grass-tops level coalition building, and learn how to amplify your voice and ensure your requests are heard. Don’t miss this important opportunity to gain insights and knowledge from seasoned professionals in the field. Tune in and be part of the conversation!


How to Build a Coalition around a Common Cause (Recording)
How to Build a Coalition around a Common Cause (PowerPoint)

The FY24 State Budget: Now’s the Time for Children’s Advocates to Raise Your Voices
Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Budget advocacy can sometimes feel like running an endless marathon, covering months and months of ground across a legislative calendar year. The Executive and Legislative branches weigh in with their plans, adjustments get made per changing revenue projections, and finally a signed document to start October 1 every year.

In this month’s Lunch and Learn program, we welcome a panel of top advocates from key priority areas impacting children and youth to talk about where things stand in the FY24 state budget process, now expected to conclude around July 1. Join Michigan’s Children and our expert panel of experts as we discuss how you can have your voice heard before final decisions are made.

This month we welcome Erica Willard, Executive Director, Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, Ty Forquer, Strategic Manager, Michigan College Access Network, and Rachel Richards, Fiscal Policy Director, Michigan League for Public Policy.


The FY24 State Budget: Now’s the Time for Children’s Advocates to Raise Your Voices (recording)
The FY24 State Budget: Now’s the Time for Children’s Advocates to Raise Your Voices (PowerPoint)

These Capital Days: Coming to Lansing, and Bringing Your ‘Ask’
Wednesday, March 22, 2023

How do experienced child, youth and family advocates prepare to bring their ‘budget asks’ to the Capital? With clear messaging, authentic voice, and comfortable shoes. Hear from our expert panel of pundits as they discuss the secrets of preparing a winning Capital Day, and championing their causes before people who can help. Listen to their tips for building a successful event, creating relationships with lawmakers, and how a Capital visit aligns with a robust annual advocacy plan.

Our featured panelists:

  • Alicia Guevara Warren, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, Early Childhood Investment Corporation;
  • Karyn Goven, Vice President, Michigan Adult, Community & Alternative Education Association;
  • Ben Moe, President, Michigan Network for Youth and Families;
  • Kadi Prout, Executive Director, Michigan Federation for Children and Families;
  • Brooke Van Prooyen, Adoptive Family Support Network.


These Capital Days: Coming to Lansing, and Bringing Your ‘Budget Ask’ (recording)
These Capital Days: Coming to Lansing, and Bringing Your ‘Budget Ask’ (PowerPoint

Governor Whitmer’s FY2023-24 Budget: What’s in it for Kids and Families?
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023

In our February Lunch and Learn program we explore Governor Whitmer’s recently announced budget plan for FY2024 through the lens of what’s in it for kids, youth and families. Plenty to talk about as the Michigan’s Children’s policy staff comes together to talk about child care, universal Pre-K, tutoring for K-12 students, maternal health, and more.


Governor Whitmer’s FY2023-24 Budget: What’s in it for Kids and Families (recording)

Governor Whitmer’s FY2023-24 Budget: What’s in it for Kids and Families (PowerPoint)

FY24 Executive Budget (webpage)

Where the Sausage is Made:
How Legislative Committees Work, and What Advocates Should Know
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

How much do you know about committee work in the state Legislative process? When it comes to the work of the state House and Senate, there are dozens of standing committees that are organized at the start of each two-year session to hear testimony and develop legislation important to Michigan residents. What are the key committees where work on children’s and family issues take place? Who leads them? Who serves on these permanent committees? And how can child advocates approach legislative committees in the best interest of the causes we champion?

Listen again to our first Lunch & Learn program of 2023 when we discuss the committee process, identify key chairpersons and decision-makers in the House and Senate, and what you should know about getting your issues before them. Recording and other resources are below.


“Where the Sausage is Made: How Legislative Committees Work’’ (recording)

“Where the Sausage is Made: How Legislative Committees Work’’ (PowerPoint)

Michigan’s Children Curated List of 2023-24 Senate and House Committees (specific to children, youth and family issues) (PDF)

State has huge $9.2 billion surplus to help navigate likely economic downtown (Michigan Advance webpage_ Jan. 13, 2023)

Lunch & Learn Series 2022/2021

Click on the images below to access each program resources

Michigan’s Early Childhood Workforce Crisis: The Way Forward
January 19, 2022

Looking Back at 2021 Policy Highlights and Investment Wins for Children & Families
December 15, 2021

Getting to Know the 2021 Michigan Legislature: Building Great Relationships with Incoming (and Returning) Lawmakers
December 16, 2020