2023 Eddies Awards: Power to the People Campaign

The Eddies—annual, advocate-nominated and voted awards—feature strategic advocacy that is driving impactful policy change.

This Eddies category features grassroots policy and advocacy campaigns at the local level that responded to community needs, grew from community power, and transformed opportunities for students and families in their community. While direct services are powerful—and needed—this category features policy and advocacy campaigns serving students and families.

See a complete list of 2023 nominees in all Eddies categories. Staff at PIE Network members and partner organizations, check your inbox for a link to vote in each category. Don’t see it? Email [email protected].

Power to the People Campaign Finalists

Bluum – Empowering Parents to Access Supplemental Learning Opportunities

At the height COVID-19, Idaho Governor Brad Little invested $50 million in CARES Act funding for grants directly to parents through the Strong Families, Strong Students (SFSS) program. More than 80,000 students applied. The successful SFSS program was followed by the $30 million Empowering Parents grant program. Approved by the 2022 Legislature, that program covers grants of up to $1,000 per child or $3,000 per family and funded nearly 44,000 students as of March 2023. Bluum supported both programs during development and launch. Along the way, we worked to gauge the impact of these programs on students as reported by parents themselves. With support from the Filling the Gap Fund program administered by Bellwether and generously funded by the Walton Family Foundation, Bluum engaged the education research firm FDR Group to survey Idaho parents that applied for Empowering Parents grant support. The FDR Group conducted focus groups with parents statewide and conducted an online survey with 369 parents in January 2023. The findings from this research were shared with the Idaho State Board of Education and the public to ensure parents have a voice in how this now-permanent grant program evolves to best meet their needs.

Education Civil Rights Now – Codifying quality public education as a civil right for all children

Education Civil Rights Now (ECRN) is working with partners in multiple states to craft constitutional rights language that establishes an actionable right to high quality public education for all children. Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is leading the campaign in California, Opportunity 180 is leading the campaign in Nevada, and 50CAN affiliates are leading the campaign in multiple other states. This theory of change threads a fine constitutional and political needle, codifying universal values into a legal framework with radical implications for parents and children. It is grounded in the fact that we are playing a rigged game because kids can’t vote and parents don’t have lobbyists. We are all going to Vegas trying to win against the House for kids. Codifying quality public education as a civil right would reorient the physics of education politics by empowering parents and families with a seat at the table to advocate for the interests of all children while shifting the narrative from choice and billionaires to civil rights and children.

GO Public Schools Fresno – Empowering English Learners: A Community-Driven Campaign for Change

In the development and planning of this campaign, the community played a central role as a key partner. Led by family leaders, our action committee recognized the challenges faced by English learners in our area and embarked on a journey to address these issues together. Through diligent research and analysis of local data, we created the report ‘Forward, Together’ which served as a foundation for our advocacy. Engaging in data-walk events facilitated by the GO team, we brought school personnel, parents, elected officials, and local organizations into the conversation. By sharing valuable information and fostering meaningful discussions, we collaboratively formulated recommendations to improve the district’s Master Plan for English Learners. A sign-on letter, supported by nearly 200 signatures from our Family Leaders, presented these recommendations to Fresno Unified’s Board of Education. As a result of our grassroots policy and advocacy campaign, exciting opportunities have emerged for students and families. The revised Master Plan for ELs, incorporating our suggestions and parent input, will come into effect in the fall of 2023. This transformative progress promises a brighter future for English learners, providing them with enhanced support and access to quality education. Our community’s partnership has proven that collective action can create lasting positive change for those we care about most.

Innovate Public Schools – Advocating for Better Translation & Interpretation Services in SFUSD

Without adequate access to translation and interpretation, parents cannot fully participate in the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) process or give informed consent, which significantly delays and/or limits the services and support their children receive. In San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), there was no historical timeline or requirement for translation services—some families waited up to 6 months for translations. In 2021, Innovate Parent Leaders introduced an equity resolution to the district to require live interpretation services and adequately translated documents within 30 days of IEP meetings. As a result of parents’ listening campaigns, research meetings, and advocacy with district officials, the resolution was unanimously passed in 2022. The resolution significantly enhanced the accessibility of full participation in the IEP process for 12,000 SFUSD families who do not speak English as a first language, including Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, Samoan, Spanish and Vietnamese. Building on the success of the SFUSD Resolution, Innovate Parent Leader teams across the state are now proposing these requirements at the statewide level with Senate Bill 445, co-sponsored by Senator Portantino and supported by SFUSD. This bill, pending approval, will assist families of the 700,000 students across CA who have an IEP.

Kids First Chicago – Chicago’s Future Elected School Board: Demanding Fair Racial Representation

A 2021 law put the country’s 4th largest school district, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), on a pathway to a 21-member fully elected school board (ESB) by 2027. This is a seismic shift for CPS, which has been governed by a 7-person Mayoral appointed board since 1995. Kids First Chicago (K1C) and its Chicago parent-led task force have been calling for a future elected school board that represents the lived experiences of the students within CPS, gives non-citizen CPS families an equal say, and creates measures for everyday parents to participate. Essentially, parents want a board that is fair, functional, and representative. Throughout the 2023 legislative session, Chicago parents showed up again and again to make their voices heard to the Illinois General Assembly. K1C and K1C parent leaders hosted a press conference on May 17, delivered 17 oral testimonies through 13 hearings, garnered media mentions 30+ times, and ultimately, successfully advocated to elected leaders to put their families’ interests over politics. As a result, the Illinois Senate and House voted in the final hours of the spring legislative session to delay the deadline for drawing new electoral districts from July 1, 2023, to April 1, 2024. While only a temporary “win,” the change allows gives more Power to the People to determine the future of Chicago’s school board.

Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE) – Win for equity in Out-of-School-Time: Dedicated Funding and New Equitable Sign-Up Process

PAVE parent leaders selected Out-of-School-Time (OST) programs as one of two parent priorities for this budget advocacy season. Their asks were clear: more OST seats, better supports for students with disabilities in OST, and a more accessible and equitable system to sign-up for programs. Parents’ remarkable advocacy alongside OST partners from around the District made each of those asks a reality! Wins included: 

• Maintained $23.8 million for OST and added 5,000 Department of Recreation (DPR) OST seats.
$6.8 million to fund dedicated childcare slots for infants and toddlers with disabilities and OST slots for children with disabilities.
$3.125 million for grants for after-school providers to increase seats at priority elementary schools.
• After hearing from PAVE parents that those closest to privilege were far more likely to gain seats in OST programs, DPR launched a lottery program for the first time this year to create a more equitable sign-up process.
$1.875 million to develop a new “My Afterschool DC” hub, which will serve as a centralized location for parents to receive information about OST programs and sign-up for programs through the new OST lottery.

Anna McDaniel-Wyatt

Anna McDaniel-Wyatt

Analyst, Communications & Member Engagement