Education is a local issue that hits close to home. When schools are struggling, families and communities are direclty impacted. Many education organizations grow organically out of the efforts of parents and communities to support their children and their local schools. Here are four examples of organizations that are using NationBuilder to mobilize their communities - at the local and state levels - in support of education.
Educate Our State
Three years ago, when the California school budget was cut by $18 billion, the principal at her kids’ school went to Teri Levy for help. “He told me the school didn’t have any more money to buy toilet paper and asked me to rally other parents to bring it in.” In response, she organized the parents to make “Hot for Teacher,” a PSA starring Megan Fox that got over a million hits in two days and yielded 25,000 petition signatures.
Teri then got connected with other moms across the state who were also realizing the need for an organized voice to get the parents’ message across on the issue of school funding in California. “All these groups around the state were organizing and doing things at a local level but they weren’t connected statewide,” said Levy. “We thought, how powerful would it be if we all unite?”
So, they did. They started Educate Our State, a grassroots, parent-led campaign that aims to unite the voices of Californians in support of high-quality public education. They’re using NationBuilder to help inform people about public education policies and to mobilize them to take action. “The pledge part of the platform has been really useful," said Levy, who is now VP of Marketing and Communications for Educate Our State. "We can easily identify those who have taken an interest and mobilize them to go out and vote on the education initiatives that will be on the ballot in November.”
Garden School Foundation
The Garden School Foundation (GSF) was created in 2005 after teachers at the 24th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles rallied the community to find an alternative to the costly repaving of the space around their playground. “The school and the community felt that there had to be something better for these kids than more asphalt,” said Julia Cotts, Executive Director of GSF. “Out of that discussion they came up with the idea to do a garden.”
Today, GSF is focused on providing schools with the tools and personnel needed to help harness the power of gardens. “There is a huge potential for gardens to affect these kids’ lives,” said Cotts. “From giving them hands-on learning opportunities to getting them excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables and getting them out in nature which is a criminally scarce resource in many parts of Los Angeles.”
Julia and GSF chose NationBuilder because it was easy to use but also offered the features they needed. “Salesforce and Highrise have nonprofit packages but they’re really built for big businesses. NationBuilder is wonderfully simple and really spoke to our particular needs as a grassroots group that needed to get organized.”
The Parents Union
Surprisingly, Washington State has the 37th highest dropout rate in the nation. The Parents Union is a membership based nonprofit focused on improving this outcome by getting parents involved in their kids’ education. “Our focus is uniting parents and empowering them to get involved in education and make sure that our kids are reaching their goals - to do well in school and graduate with the skills to fulfill their dreams,” said Marketing Manager Pamela Hayes.
The Parents Union is helping connect members with a community of other concerned parents and provides tools and information to help them navigate the educational system with their children and ensure that they succeed. They are using NationBuilder to build their membership platform. “What’s going to be really exciting for us is the registered paid members site. Once folks sign up for a membership they’ll be able to login and access their member benefits and perks,” said Hayes. “As a young organization without a ton of assets we have to very mindful of every dollar that we spend and NationBuilder seemed like a very wise choice.”
Beall Parent Teacher Association
The Beall PTA in Montgomery County, Maryland has been around for more than 50 years. In the past, the organization’s membership wasn’t particularly active. But in today’s funding environment, the need for the community to support the school is very apparent. “My guess is that the PTA wasn’t strong back then because they didn’t have problems with funding and larger class size," said Tida Violante, Beall PTA President. "In the past few years, public school funding has dropped off tremendously, even in Montgomery County which traditionally has had a really good reputation in the public school system. ”
In her three years with the PTA, membership has grown by more than 50 percent. “Since I became president, we have tried to increase membership in order to increase funding and donations that would get fed through our organization to the school," said Violante. NationBuilder helps the Beall PTA manage their members and take donations from parents. “Before we started using NationBuilder, we didn’t have a system in place for keeping track of which parents had become members. It’s also allowed us to take donations online which has been extremely helpful.”