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NAMI Smarts

What is NAMI Smarts for Advocacy?

NAMI Smarts for Advocacy is a highly interactive and engaging workshop that employs a variety of adult learning strategies to build knowledge, confidence, and competence in:

  • Writing and delivering short and compelling personal stories that have an “ask”
  • Finding and using facts in speaking and writing
  • Preparing for and conducting a successful meeting with legislators
  • Following-up with savvy thank you notes that reinforce a key message
  • Writing focused emails that have an impact
  • Making effective phone calls

How are the workshops set up?

NAMI Smarts is held as a one day 6.5 hour seminar that discusses three modules that cover different ways to increase your advocacy skills by learning how to effectively tell your story.

Module 1: Telling Your Story
Real stories are the most potent motivator for legislators. Telling Your Story guides you through writing and delivering a concise and compelling version of your story that will serve as the springboard for your advocacy.

 Module 2: Emails and Phone Calls
Don’t think your emails and phone calls are making an impact? The Emails and Phone Calls Module shows you how to write emails that get attention and make phone calls that policy makers remember.

Module 3: Meeting Your Legislator
Want your meetings with policy makers to deliver results? The Meeting Your Legislator Module demonstrates how to orchestrate a successful dialogue with elected officials.

Interested in hosting a NAMI Smarts Workshop?

At this time NAMI Virginia is not advertising NAMI Smarts as a core program. This is due to limitations in capacity and funding to adequately manage, promote, fund, and coordinate the program. We do, however, recognize the need for workshops and will work with affiliates interested in bringing NAMI Smarts to their community as capacity and resources allow.

There are three options available for bringing NAMI Smarts to your affiliate:

  1. Host one module in a three hour long workshop
  2. Host one or two modules. Module 1 must be completed prior to 2 & 3.
  3. Host the full program which includes Modules, 1, 2 & 3 for a day-long seminar.

What is the affiliate responsible for?

While we are constantly pursuing new funding and resources to be able to absorb and manage important programs such as NAMI Smarts, presently we do not have the capacity and resources to offer robust support for NAMI Smarts. Therefore, we are requesting that affiliates that desire to host NAMI Smarts take on the majority of the responsibility with regards to planning and execution of the workshop:

  • Inform NAMI VA of how many and which modules they would like to host. Note- If hosting a full day Smarts Seminar, the affiliate will be responsible for purchasing lunch for the attendees.
  • Identify a free facility for the workshop with:
    • Comfortable seating for up to 20 people
    • Tables and chairs
    • Free wifi
    • A/V equipment – projector and laptop
    • Ample parking
    • Safe and welcoming area
    • Outside food is allowed to be delivered
  • Purchase/obtain supplies for the training:
    • Pencils, pens
    • Scrap paper
    • Snacks
    • Coffee and related supplies
    • Water
    • Lunch- if hosting a full day Smarts Seminar, the affiliate will be responsible for purchasing lunch for the attendees.
  • Provide program materials
    • NAMI Virginia has limited materials available on first come first serve basis. When those run out or become outdated, the affiliate will be responsible for covering the cost of program materials.
  • Identify a local training coordinator termed ‘point of contact’ (POC) to assist with prep work and day of workshop needs. This person(s) will:
    • Help market the upcoming workshop
    • Work to coordinate and execute local workshop
    • Ensure workshop runs smoothly –assist trainers as needed, set up/clean up
    • The POC will need to work out with trainer when they will be at the workshop in person. Typically, the POC will be there for the set up in the morning, lunch set up and break down, and clean up at the end.

NAMI Virginia will do the following

  • Provide program materials on a first come first serve basis
  • Identify a NAMI Smarts trainer who will serve as the on-site trainer; coordinate with the person to ensure they are connected to the affiliate POC
  • Support the affiliate in planning logistics by providing general guidance to the affiliate as the affiliate undertakes the planning and coordination around the event

Is there a fee for people to participate in the workshop?

In accordance with our mission and values, there is no fee for participants to attend the workshop. However, in order to help cover the costs, the affiliate can ask for a suggested donation of $20 from non-members who would like to attend.

Number of Attendees

Sufficient numbers for Smarts workshops are 10-20 people. Scheduled workshops may be cancelled IF there is insufficient interest one month out from the date; however, it is at the discretion of the hosting affiliate.

If you are interested please contact your local affiliate and request information. You can also learn more about the program and its growth by contacting Mary Beth Walsh at or visiting the website here.



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