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Voices for Healthy Kids


Partners: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/American Heart Association

Program Name: Policy Advocacy Readiness


Voices for Healthy Kids is a collaborative initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association to help all children achieve a healthy weight through public education and advocacy.

It awards grants to advocacy organizations already active in childhood obesity prevention to encourage evidence-based regulatory and legislative activity with the greatest potential for impact. The initiative aims to ensure the places where children live, learn and play make the healthy choice the easy choice.




In 2016, the Center developed and tested tools for assessing policy advocacy readiness that could be used by grant funders and other stakeholders to assess technical assistance and training needs among grantees, or to make funding decisions.



Key-informant interviews with policy advocates and advocacy experts were conducted to collect information about advocacy activities and considerations when planning and preparing a campaign. These interviews helped to develop the advocacy readiness survey, which included questions related to the political landscape and campaign objective, organizational capacity, advocacy strategies and health equity. 

After the survey was developed, Center staff conducted field testing, beginning with cognitive interviews, where the understandability and interpretation of survey items were tested with a sample of experienced policy advocates (current and former Voices for Healthy Kids grantees). After the cognitive interviews, appropriate revisions were made to the survey and then further examined by administering it to grantees. Concurrently, the revised survey was sent through an expert review where scientific advisors provided input on item groupings and prioritization of questions. Both of these steps helped to improve the wording of the questions, streamline the survey and interpret scores.


States represented by participants who completed surveys for the field test.


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Mirroring the final items included in the survey, a checklist and resource guide were created for grassroots advocacy campaigns focused on childhood nutrition and physical activity policy change at local and state levels.

The checklist and resource guide serve as campaign planning tools intended to help policy advocacy campaigns assess their advocacy readiness, identify key tasks they need to complete, and direct them to available resources such as guides, toolkits, templates and websites, based on their needs.