Which type of group has advocacy as its main purpose: agency, network, association, or coalition?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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While the social work profession was first created with the purpose of "championing the rights of society's most vulnerable members," including children, the homeless, the elderly, and the disabled, not all social workers will consider advocacy to be a primary role in their job, leaving advocacy to different groups instead ("Advocacy & Organizing"). Among the groups listed, coalitions are more often created with advocacy purposes in mind than the other groups; however, networks can also be established for advocacy purposes.

A coalition can be defined as a group of either individuals or organizations who come together with a "common interest" to work towards a "common goal" (Chapter 5, Section 5. "Coalition Building I: Starting a Coalition"). One such example named on the Community Tool Box website in their online publication concerning community-building skills could be a neighborhood that is growing more and more violent and both police and individuals feel "powerless" to improve the situation and "frustrated" in that they can no longer think of ways to remedy the situation (Chapter 5, Section 5). In a situation like that, a community-based organization, such as Pryorville Youth Services, might bring the community together to form a coalition in order to put a stop to the violence. In such a case, a coalition could be formed of police, government officials, individuals, teachers, students, merchants in the community, and anyone else who takes an active interest in wanting to see the community change. A coalition, such as this one, would have several goals, and one of those most important goals would be "influencing or developing public policy" surrounding the issue, which is the exact goal of advocacy (Chapter 5, Section 5). In other words, a coalition advocates for changes in public policy in order to resolve an issue. Other goals of coalitions are "changing people's behavior" and "building a healthy community" (Chapter 5, Section 5).

Alliances and networks can also be formed with the intention of affecting public policy, but unlike coalitions, affecting public policy will not be the primary goal of all alliances and networks. An example of a network formed with the intention of advocating for changes in public policy would be the Community Advocacy Network for the Alliance of Retired Americans. The network specifically joins together community-based organizations and the Alliance for Retired Americans with the goal of protecting "social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens," especially the elderly ("Community Advocacy Network"). More specifically, the Community Advocacy Network ensures that not just retired citizens are involved in the fight for social and economic equality and civil rights, but all older Americans ("Community Advocacy Network").

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