Richmond Home

Earn a Professional Certificate in Grassroots Lobbying

Grassroots Lobbying & Advocacy Professional Certificate

Grassroots lobbying and advocacy has a rich history in the U.S. From huge public efforts like the Love Canal Homeowners Association in the 1970s and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the 1980s to more recent efforts by groups like Black Lives Matter, the Sierra Club, Moms Demand Action and AARP, individuals and organizations use grassroots lobbying to motivate the public and help reform laws.

Companies, associations and citizens are increasingly engaging in grassroots lobbying and advocacy as an attempt to influence changes in legislation that support their core missions and constituency groups. Grassroots lobbying and advocacy, in contrast to direct lobbying, tends to focus on stimulating the politics of specific communities by impacting public opinion and encouraging public action.

In addition to covering the history of lobbying, students will examine how the legislative process works, key tactics used by groups in order to promote different issues, building coalitions, relationship building and ethical concerns. Certificate holders will leave the program with the skills needed to step into grassroots lobbying or professional advocacy roles in most any field as well as the knowledge to support personal causes through grassroots lobbying or advocacy.

Course of Study

The Grassroots Lobbying & Advocacy Professional Certificate consists of eight modules, delivered face-to-face over the course of a 12-week term.


Class meetings total 72 contact hours, with weekly class meetings on Tuesday & Thursday evenings. Students who successfully complete the program will receive a Professional Certificate in Grassroots Lobbying & Advocacy from the University of Richmond, and will earn 72 professional hours (equivalent to 7 CEUs) that can be applied to professional development goals.

This program does not earn college credit.

Apply Online

Fall 2020 applications now being accepted!

Join our Contact List

Module 1: Definitions
The Types of Influence and the Moral Case for Lobbyists

iconDuring this module, you will be introduced to the world of lobbying today, the different types of lobbying and influence, and how lobbying is understood by both the general public and corporate America. The goal is to familiarize students with the many ways influence is wielded and lay a foundation of understanding of lobbying.

Module 2: Ethics
Ethics & Disclosures

iconThis module reviews on the history of lobbying in America, how the profession has evolved, and how relatively new ethics standards and laws affect the industry. In the years ahead, the most important core attribute of a successful lobbyist will be an insistence on ethical and fair behavior in both professional and personal life. Case studies on ethical questions will be presented and you will have an opportunity to interact with stories where lobbyists have gone wrong — intentionally and unintentionally — so that you may be prepared when ethical dilemmas arise in your chosen career.

Module 3: Associations
Associations and the Art of Coalition Building

iconThis module focuses on how associations leverage their influence through the power of consensus and pooled resources. A wide array of associations will be discussed, how they are led and managed, and why they are so effective.

Module 4: Grassroots
Grassroots Lobbying

iconGrassroots lobbying is the foundation of generated civic influence. From canvassing to polling, media targeting and advertisement strategy, grassroots lobbyists face the tremendous challenge of inspiring people to action and leading otherwise neutral parties to the critical act of influence. This module covers the various tactics deployed by grassroots lobbyists, how they factor into big picture influence campaigns, and the important nuances of this critical side of lobbying and the wielding of influence.

This module builds off the foundation laid in Module I and will close with a hands on guide to placing and managing various types of influence advertisement campaigns.

Module 5: Relationships
Relationship Building, the Genuine Purpose and Persuasive Communication

iconThis module covers the importance of building relationships in the process of lobbying, and how maintaining a genuine purpose empowers lobbyists to achieve clients’ goals. Genuine purpose is what motivates a lobbyist; possessing a strong drive and passion for one’s clients is critical to finding success on behalf of individuals, corporations, associations, and government entities. By learning how to maintain a genuine purpose, we'll discuss how lobbyists can build stronger and better relationships with decision makers, colleagues, and even opponents.

Module 6: Corporations
Corporate Representation

iconDuring this module, you will learn about how contract lobbyists and internal employed lobbyists represent corporations, and how this type of lobbying differs from other types. When the lifeblood of a company, often large and sometimes controversial, is on the line, special care must be taken to safeguard both the process and the people involved. Lobbying assignments are usually more specific and require a different skill set than other types previously discussed.

Module 7: Legislation
The Legislative Process: Local, State and Federal Overview

iconDuring this module, students will gain a basic framework for how the legislative process works at the local, state and federal level. The module will give students a clear understanding of how local governments operate in Dillon’s Rule states like Virginia. A more in-depth analysis of the Virginia legislative process will include how bills are created, amended, killed and passed, and legislative strategy.

Module 8: Future
The Future of Lobbying in America and Our Role

iconThis module serves as a capstone to the course. This module reviews the subject matter and offers a glimpse into the future of lobbying as a profession, why it is needed and morally justified, and how students can take what they have learned and apply it to their personal and professional lives.

Who Should Enroll?

The Grassroots Lobbying & Advocacy program is designed for the following participants:

  • State government employees planning a move to lobby after separation or retirement
  • Association professionals seeking an edge as they plan for career advancement opportunities
  • Nonprofit professionals whose organizations focus on advocacy
  • Government affairs professionals
  • Recent college graduates seeking an additional credential as they prepare for entry-level positions in lobbying or advocacy
  • Career switchers planning to enter the lobbying or advocacy fields

Who's Teaching Classes?

Our core instructor team includes former members of the Virginia House of Delegates, seasoned contract lobbyists with more than 75 years of collective experience, skilled grassroots operatives, and former political consultants who successfully transitioned from campaigns to advocacy. Instructors work for prominent firms and associations in the Richmond area and have lobbied on behalf of some of the world’s largest companies.

In addition to our instructors, guest speakers from across the country will deliver analysis on the wide-range of topics covered in the course. These speakers will be announced as they are confirmed.


The application process is competitive, so be sure to submit your application on time.

  • Application deadline: July 31, 2020
  • Classes start Tuesday, September 1, 2020
  • Classes are held Tuesday & Thursday, 6-9 p.m.
  • Classes end Thursday, November 12, 2020

Applicants will be notified of admission status approximately 2-3 weeks after the application deadline.

We encourage you to start your application to the certificate program prior to applying for financing (if applicable). Doing so helps us link your program application to your financing application.

Note: A limited number of enrollments is available to UR faculty and staff and their eligible spouses, partners and dependents.

Tuition & Fees

The inaugural discounted tuition of $2,995 includes all required texts and materials.


Payment in full, or arrangement for financing, is due at orientation.

Climb logo
If you are interested in financing your program of study, we work with Climb Credit, a provider that focuses on financing career-building programs to help students get a high return-on-investment from their education.

Learn more about Climb Credit or start your Climb Credit application right away — the application can be completed in as little as 5 minutes and does not affect your credit score. Most applicants receive an instant decision.

No application fee or payment is due at the time of application.


Applications (available above) are accepted through July 31 to the Grassroots Lobbying & Advocacy program. The application will take up to 45 minutes to complete.

The online application will open in a new window and require you to log in with an existing application credential or to create a new login.

  • Does not need to be completed in one session: Return as often as needed before submitting
  • Requires a current résumé or CV, which may be uploaded as a Word (.docx) or PDF document
  • Requires a statement of purpose, which may be uploaded as a Word (.docx) or PDF document

Students will be notified of admission status approximately 2-3 weeks after the application deadline.