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.

Instructional Team

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.



Class meetings total 72 contact hours with weekly class meetings. 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.

Course of Study

The Grassroots Lobbying & Advocacy Professional Certificate consists of eight modules, delivered live online via Zoom over the course of a 12-week term.

Zoom sessions are scheduled on Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m. for discussion and activities. Lecture recordings and presentation slide decks will be posted for study and review 48 hours before Zoom sessions.

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  • Module 1: Types of Influence & 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 & 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 & 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 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: Relationship Building, the Genuine Purpose & 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: 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: Legislative Process: Local, State & 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 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.