2017 Nonprofit PR Awards

Advocacy Campaign and Lobbying Efforts

American Heart Association – CPR in Schools

American Heart Association - CPR in Schools

To increase Americans’ rate of survival from cardiac events, the American Heart Association (AHA) has made it a goal to teach as many Americans as possible guideline-based, hands-on CPR training.

As part of this education effort, AHA has spearheaded a nationwide advocacy effort to ensure students get trained in guideline-based, hands on CPR prior to high school graduation. AHA has chosen to target high school students because, according to the latest science, they can achieve acceptable levels of CPR skills proficiency in 60 minutes or less through a video and hands-on based training program.

This means in less time than it takes to watch the average TV program, high school students can learn a lifesaving skill. AHA’s efforts began in 2011 and experienced initial success with passage of legislation in 23 states, ranging from small states like North Dakota to larger states, such as New York.

For the period of November 2015 through November 2016, AHA set an objective of securing passage legislation in six additional states, including at least one large one. The advocacy team selected 18 states and Washington, D.C. as targets. It then put together a series of strategic plans for the legislative year or years, depending on the state’s legislative cycle.

Because of limited campaign dollars, the overwhelming majority of states put nearly all of their media resources into social media. On Facebook, the lynchpin of this effort was the 300,000-member “You’re the Cure” network of citizen lobbyists. Along with text messages and Twitter, Facebook was the primary method of contact and mobilization. In addition to backroom activities, state teams, in concert with national AHA, developed and coordinated content.

Of the 18 targeted states, CPR in schools legislation passed in nine states (Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin) and Washington, D.C. was added to the list of areas requiring the teaching of high quality, guideline-based, hands-on CPR.

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