2021 Power to the People Eddies! Nominees & Winner

The Eddies!—annual, advocate-nominated and voted awards—feature outstanding policy and advocacy wins from the past year.

Nominations tell the story of how advocates improved policy and advanced opportunity, equity, and excellence for students, one community and campaign at a time.

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. This is the first time work has been recognized in this Eddies! category.

See a complete list of 2021 nominees in all Eddies! categories.

2021 Winner

Power to the People Campaign Finalists

Honorable Mentions


D.C. PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education)


D.C. PAVE’s (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education) mission is to connect, inform, and empower parent leaders to give families in DC a voice and choice in the vision for education in our city. In fall 2020, PAVE parent leaders came together to revise their vision for a family-centered response to and recovery from the pandemic – and their reimagined #DCSchoolsRecovery campaign was born. Parent leaders expanded the scope of their policy priorities and enacted a powerful virtual advocacy campaign to achieve their vision. PAVE staff supported parent leaders’ advocacy by building relationships and coalitions with partners, including fellow PIE network member organizations DC Charter School Alliance and Education Reform Now DC, to amplify parents’ voices even further.  By delivering nearly 100 testimonies, meeting with leaders from every DC education agency, and sending thousands of emails and social media posts, parent leaders’ advocacy led to huge wins for DC kids. PAVE’s #DCSchoolsRecovery campaign led to historic investments in DC’s FY22 budget for out-of-school time programs, school-based mental health, high-quality child care, and equitable school funding. Despite the ongoing public health emergency coupled with long-standing inequities, PAVE parent leaders have continued to show up with strength and vulnerability by using their collective voices to catalyze systemic change.

GO Public Schools – Oakland

#SchoolAfterCOVID Family Survey

As the pandemic hit, one of our team’s most impactful moves was to immediately design and implement our #SchoolAfterCOVID family survey, a massive community survey that would consolidate thousands of family voices into a coherent policy agenda that would contend with other powerful interests and continues to shape district policy today.     

We partnered directly with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), convened parents, educators, grasstops leaders, and engaged over a dozen other community outreach partners to ensure family voice was heard. We drew from the expertise of the PIE Network (namely, CRPE, TNTP, DC PAVE, EdTrust-West, and The Oakland REACH). In total, nearly 5,000 families participated in the survey in five languages online and over the phone, with over-representation from families with students with IEPs and English Learners.     

We used the results to generate a set of “family demands” that drove our advocacy campaign and ultimately led to concrete changes to the district’s MOU with the teachers’ union that were aligned to family priorities. These included thousands of additional instructional minutes, guaranteed live instruction and weekly small-group instruction, and ensured regular communication to families about student progress. OUSD has since used this survey as a template for subsequent iterations to ensure that they continue to solicit family input in an ongoing way as our COVID response efforts continue to evolve.       

When families are organized and can advocate priorities collectively their power is recognized.


WiFi on Wheels and Hawaii Broadband Hui

HawaiiKidsCAN’s work on Wifi on Wheels was critically important for students and families in Hawaii. They partnered with communities to bring access to wifi in places where families either cannot afford it or have no access to the internet. This began with a Wifi on Wheels mobile bus pilot in rural Waianae, where they worked with local funders, nonprofits, and charter schools to get fast, free, and safe internet connectivity to students and families. From this initial pilot, HawaiiKidsCAN expanded to create a portfolio of 10 additional sites, spanning diverse communities on four islands. It’s a great blueprint for making just in time community impact! HawaiiKidsCAN has taken what they’ve learned through this project to make an impact at the policy level, becoming a key member of the Hawaii Broadband Hui. This collaborative effort passed the Digital Equity Declaration in the 2021 legislative session, which sets a statewide goal to achieve digital equity by 2030 and includes sector-by-sector action items.

Powerful Parent Network

Campaign to Engage Democratic Presidential Primary Candidates

In fall 2019, hundreds of Black and Brown parents from coast to coast mobilized to engage directly with Democratic Presidential Primary candidates when it felt like leaders weren’t listening to the stakholders most impacted by their decisions. Leaders, including The Memphis Lift Executive Director Sarah Carpenter, drove fundraising efforts to support four trips to engage at high-profile moments: the November 2019 Elizabeth Warren Rally in Atlanta; the December 2019 National Education Association Education Forum; the January 2020 Black and Brown Caucus in Iowa; and the February 2020 Freedom Bus Tour to meet all major Democratic Presidential Candidates. Each of these four experiences built upon each other, growing in power, so by the time parents reached South Carolina on the Freedom Bus Tour in February 2020, the Presidential candidates and their teams were paying attention. By courageously and consistently showing up and speaking their truth to power, Powerful Parent Network advocates garnered national attention on the critical role parents and families should play in the policymaking process.

The Oakland REACH

Virtual Family Hub

Before COVID 19, less than 30% of Black and Brown students in Oakland were reading on grade level. When the pandemic hit, The Oakland REACH, a parent-led organization, knew their response must be fierce.     

Listening to families, they created the Virtual Family Hub, which offers students quality academics and enrichments; smaller class sizes; and innovative, culturally responsive curriculum. Family Liaisons coach parents to become transformational leaders for their children’s education. Parents also receive economic development resources, including pathways for adult education, tech training, and career development.     

The Hub works: 60% of students in REACH’s literacy programming moved 2+ levels on the district’s assessment, 30% moved 3+ levels. On the strength of our Hub’s 400-student pilot and their parents’ advocacy, Oakland Unified School District is interested in partnering to expand access to the Hub for all distance learning students.    This pandemic surfaced many things, most clearly the need to center the wisdom and aspirations of parents, who are more engaged than ever in their children’s education. In this unprecedented moment to grow parent engagement, the REACH is leading the movement: they’ve created a parent power playbook and over a dozen districts and organizations are reaching out to replicate their proven model.  


A for Arizona

Seat Time Flexibility Expansion

The campaign for H.B. 2862 led to one of the most robust seat time flexibility laws in the country. Unlike innovation zones, these flexibilities are available to any single school, cluster of schools, or system-wide approach. Schools have a wide breadth of when, where, and how learning occurs, including evenings, weekends, and outside the confines of the traditional four walls of a classroom. Competency-based instructional models are protected and free from bureaucracy and the fear of breaking the law or losing funding. The instructional possibilities are endless. A for Arizona and partner Center for the Future of Arizona formed a coalition including traditional membership associations, ExcelinEd, yes.every kid, Americans For Prosperity – Arizona, the business community, Knowledgeworks, and parent organizations. District and charter principals and system leaders statewide stood strongly in unison for continued flexibility, clearly articulating why keeping the pandemic regulatory relief would accelerate Arizona’s momentum to better serve kids and families. Thanks to PIE Network support and national leaders like Frank Luntz and John Bailey’s polling and focus group data gave rural legislators as well as strong teachers’ union allies the cover to vote yes. The coalition was disciplined on messaging and educating all lawmakers, regardless of party. In a year when most votes were deeply partisan, H.B. 2862 passed with bipartisan support: 24-6 in the Senate, 52-8 in the House and Governor Ducey’s prompt signature.

Center for American Progress


Through a collaboration between Center for American Progress and EduColor, #WeBuildEDU lifts up the voices of educators who are Black, Indigenous, and other non-Black people of color (BIPOC), to advance their ideas for what public education should look like, learn more about their experiences in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic and understand the impacts on their work from intensified calls for racial justice. Through a combination of media, local organizing and policy proposals, we work to advance these ideas and connect decision-makers with educators in their local communities and across the country.

Educators for Excellence-Chicago

From Hashtags to Healing: Restorative Recommendations for Our School Communities

Over last summer, E4E-Chicago piloted the very first teacher leader-run Teacher Action Team, which resulted in recommendations and a policy memo surrounding SEL, trauma, and anti-racism, From Hashtags to Healing: Restorative Recommendations for Our School Communities.

Their advocacy, coupled with continued collaborations with partners and other education decision-makers in the landscape, led to major contributions to the Chicago Public Schools’ district-wide Healing-Centered Framework for SEL, which includes plans for implementing several of our recommendations (specifically: the eventual creation of a SEL micro credential; the inclusion of anti-racism as part of healing trauma and SEL work; professional development around ongoing healing-centered, culturally responsive, antiracist trainings for all staff; and the eventual inclusion of a district-wide SEL skills inventory).    

Their teacher leaders (and staff!) were also included in other major policy change decisions, including (but not limited to) the district’s revamped Culturally Responsive Education & Diversity policy, the Illinois Governor’s P20 Council Learning Renewal Resource Guide, and the Chicago Learning Elevation and Recovery mayoral taskforce.    

First State Educate Action Fund

School Board Elections

This past February through May, First State Educate Action Fund, one of PIE Network’s newest advocacy organizations based in Delaware, launched a bold campaign to educate the general public about the importance of upcoming school board election, focused in particular on five. The marketing campaign consisted of bright, eye-catching graphics with information on how to run for school board, how to attend virtual school board candidate forums, and a countdown to Election Day.   First State also hosted two webinars on the roles and responsibilities of a school board member and how to run for a school board position as well as created a networked voter turnout in each focus district. Historically, school board elections see very low voter turnout. School board members are volunteers and unpaid with terms that are held for five years (although First State also propelled new legislation in June that shortened the term statewide to four years). While one race still saw low turnout, others like the Brandywine School District saw a historic number of votes, with a 470% increase, and in the Christina School District, a 346% increase.  The end of the campaign congratulated the winners, and also graphically showed the voter turnout by school district. First State also included a list of confirmed winners by each School District in their newsletters, social media, and website.

Foundation for Florida’s Future

My Choices in Education

To connect students with Florida’s many school choice options, ExcelinEd reached out to 35,000 Florida families during the pandemic to help them find the best education setting for their children through the www.MyChoicesinEdFL.org survey tool. Through a short series of questions, the online survey informs parents if their child is eligible for one of Florida’s K-12 scholarship programs—and provides guidance and direct links to apply. Depending on the program, eligible students can receive scholarships for summer reading camps, tutoring, school tuition, curriculum resources, therapies and other educational supports. This grassroots outreach and online tool helped harness the power of parent advocates to pass school choice expansion in the state, now available to more than 1.2 million low-income and disadvantaged Florida students.   

Kids First Chicago

Chicago Connected

During the global pandemic, internet access has become a lifeline for students and families. In 2020-21, Kids First Chicago led the creation of a public-private partnership between city government, philanthropy, internet service providers, the school district, and dozens of community-based organizations to provide free, high-speed internet to low-income Chicago families. The groundbreaking partnership became Chicago Connected, currently the largest and longest program of its kind in the country. To date, Chicago Connected has provided 65,000 students in 42,000+ households with in-home broadband services. One key component of this program’s success to date has been its community-based partnerships. 35 community-based organizations (CBOs) from across the city engage the hardest-to-reach families, then provide digital literacy and inclusion supports to ensure they have the tools and training that they need. Chicago Connected’s Guiding Team includes various CBOs and parent champions who have helped the program improve its services and expand its reach. Kids First Chicago has worked to ensure that Chicago Connected’s model is ‘open source’ and all real-time learning is actively shared with advocates from around the country (and the continent!). Miami, Philadelphia, and Toronto have all launched similar initiatives, and leaders at the federal level are working to create permanent infrastructure to bridge the digital divide.

Our Turn,Educators for Excellence, Stand for Children, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, RedefinED Atlanta

Creation of Student Agenda, influencing US DOE to require student input in ARP-ESSER plans

When the pandemic caused an unprecedented disruption in the public education system, students issued a clear call to action: we cannot return to the old normal. It’s an unjust education that disproportionately oppresses Black, Indigenous, and students of color. Our Turn’s student leaders created the Student Agenda, a five-point plan for reimagining education, and ignited it through Raise Your Hand, a national storytelling, training, and advocacy campaign with a goal of influencing the new Department of Education and state allies.

Six months later, we have seen game-changing impact, through the power of 150+ newly trained student leaders and 12 national + local coalition and organization endorsements. The DOE took the historic step of requiring SEAs to gather student input for ARP ESSER plans, and has adopted several student demands into their policy and budget priorities, ranging from mental health to educator partnerships to anti-racist curricula. The federal work is translating into local impact, as student leaders are now engaging with SEAs and LEAs to build budgets and implementation plans that are reflective of the Student Agenda. Before our eyes, thanks to the power of students of color and allies, we are seeing the reimagination of education today.

See a complete list of 2021 nominees in all Eddies! categories.

PIE Network

PIE Network

The PIE Network connects, strengthens, and catalyzes the work of education advocates across communities, states, and ideological lines to transform education so that every student, in every community can achieve a future with no limits.