National PTA Honors Outstanding Advocacy Efforts
Honorees to be recognized during association’s 2024 Legislative Conference
ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 8, 2024)—National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2024 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor state, local and individual PTA advocates for taking action to make a difference for the education, health, safety and well-being of every child. The honorees will be recognized during the association’s 2024 Legislative Conference, Wednesday, March 6, at The Westin Alexandria Old Town in Alexandria, Va.
This year’s recipients are:
- Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award—Washington State PTA
For multiple legislative sessions, Washington State PTA has focused their advocacy efforts on supporting legislation and policies that will help prevent and reduce gun violence and suicide, including: (1) addressing the disproportionate impact on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth; (2) funding community-based prevention and intervention programs; (3) promoting safe storage of medication and firearms; and (4) prohibiting the sale or transfer of military-style assault weapons. As part of their efforts, Washington State PTA Advocacy and Resolutions Committee members have been meeting and discussing bills with legislators and offering improvements and feedback; preparing and delivering testimony; and using methods and communication vehicles including events, action alerts, their website, newsletters, blog posts and social media to impact change. Thanks to their efforts, legislation was passed and signed into law during the 2023 legislative session to prohibit assault weapons (with a few exceptions), promote safe storage of firearms and medication, provide funding for community prevention programs and more. So much progress was made during the 2023 legislative session that Washington State PTA has added new goals for the 2024 legislative session, including expanding existing law to prohibit firearms where families and youth congregate in public places and restoring local government authority to enhance state firearm regulations to protect children and youth.
- Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award—Thirty-Third District PTA (California)
In 2023, Thirty-Third District PTA worked on five resolutions—the first resolutions that the PTA had supported in over 10 years. The resolutions included Equitable Literacy for All, Cannabis and Youth Health and Safety, Inclusive Education for Children with Cognitive Disabilities, Restorative Justice, and Synthetic and Non-Tobacco Derived Nicotine Products. The makers of the resolutions for Thirty-Third District PTA conducted a “Resolution Maker Roadshow” to increase understanding among local, regional and state PTA membership regarding the resolution process and the importance of resolutions for PTA advocacy, as well as bring awareness to important issues facing their children and communities. The process allowed Thirty-Third District PTA to not only engage their membership and reinforce the primary role of PTA as an advocacy organization, but it also instilled a sense of pride among their membership for impacting advocacy. Through their work on the resolutions, Thirty-Third District PTA has become known for their advocacy.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advocacy Award—Matrice Perry, Big Creek PTA (Middleburg Heights, Ohio)
After noticing that some children’s needs weren’t being met at their events, Big Creek PTA, under the leadership of their president Matrice Perry, set a goal to create more accessible and inclusive events for children and families in their school and community. They added a vice president of advocacy position on their Board and worked to engage parents of special needs children within their PTA and school community, provide equity and access to all students and make sure that all their PTA-sponsored events—both during the school day and after school hours—included a sensory friendly time with the appropriate accommodations. Big Creek PTA has taken their ideas to their council PTA for the practice of hosting more accessible and inclusive events to become a districtwide priority.
- Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award—Rachel Burke (Hoosier PTA, Indiana)
Rachel Burke continuously strives to improve the lives of children and youth; fund, improve and protect the public school system; improve public health; and advocate for all children. She is a consistent and recognized voice for children and youth at the Indiana General Assembly, and she has worked to strengthen the position of Indiana PTA as the “voice of the parent” in the legislature and among the media in Indiana. Throughout the 2023 legislative session, Burke testified numerous times before the education, health, elections and fiscal committees. Specifically, she has worked to eliminate textbook rental fees; protect the rights of transgender children in the classroom and in healthcare settings; increase funding to Indiana’s public schools; stop the banning of books in public school libraries; strengthen anti-bullying legislation; strengthen “family-friendly” school designations; fight anti-critical race theory legislation; establish and fund Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in Indiana; and stop SNAP eligibility from being significantly limited, among many other efforts. Burke’s advocacy and her determination has led to Indiana PTA to being consistently part of the narrative on education and youth in Indiana.
- Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award—Maurits Acosta (Hialeah-Miami Lakes PTSA, Florida)
Maurits Acosta strongly believes that one must be the change they want to see in the world, and he understands that involving students in government is key to making sure our country grows and flourishes. He is focused on increasing civic literacy and civic engagement among high school students across the country and increasing student representation in local government and PTA leadership in Florida. Acosta launched the Miami-Dade County Student Engagement Committee where he meets with students across Miami on a regular basis to empower student leaders in PTA. He has also motivated local PTAs to add student representatives to their local units and has been advocating for the creation of student engagement committees for county councils and state PTAs. Additionally, Acosta started Virtutem Populo, Inc., a student-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement and community involvement among youth in Miami-Dade County. Further, he successfully lobbied his mayor to add a student representative to the Town of Miami Lakes Education Advisory Board, which he now serves on as its inaugural office holder. Acosta’s efforts have positively affected change, and he exemplifies the qualities of creativity, leadership and dedication to the cause he champions.
“Washington State PTA, Thirty-Third District PTA, Big Creek PTA, Rachel and Maurits exemplify what it means to take action and speak for every child with one voice, which is what our association does best,” said Yvonne Johnson, president of National PTA. “I always say to never underestimate the power of a parent’s voice, and we are thrilled to recognize the efforts of Washington State PTA, Thirty-Third District PTA, Big Creek PTA, Rachel and Maurits with our 2024 Outstanding Advocacy Awards.”
The Outstanding Advocacy Award recipients are selected by National PTA’s Legislation Committee. Washington State PTA will receive a $1,000 award to further their work and Thirty-Third District PTA will receive a $500 award. The Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award is named after past National PTA President (2001-2003) Shirley Igo, who was an impassioned and compassionate leader, dedicated to moving PTA forward and committed to ensuring that others would follow. The Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award is supported by PTA Proud National Sponsor Uber.
Every year, National PTA’s Legislative Conference or LegCon brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country to take action on the association’s advocacy priorities. During the conference, attendees will hear from speakers and participate in workshops to get an update on issues impacting children, families and schools and grow their advocacy skills. Attendees will also amplify their voices by meeting with their members of Congress, Wednesday, March 8. The theme for this year’s conference is Share Power for Every Child.
“Raising our voices and ensuring power is shared—among families, educators, administrators, policymakers—is so important to helping every child reach their full potential,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “At PTA, we remain steadfast in our mission to make every child’s potential a reality, and we will never stop speaking loudly and demanding more to ensure all children have the support they need to thrive.”
About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.
***Resolutions are due to National PTA by October 15. 2024***
2023/2024 Legislative Program and Policies: Legislative Program and Priorities
Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions. Advocacy includes activities and publications to influence public policy, laws and budgets by using facts, their relationships, the media, and messaging to educate government officials and the public.
Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research.
Take Action: In keeping up with advocacy action items and what’s happening now, please click on this link to reach out to your representative. You can also sign up for alerts so you will always be in the know.
Please view the Advocacy page National PTA has put together containing multiple links for your interest and includes Federal Legislation and more.
Please take a look at these official documents which outline the opinion, will, or intent of the National PTA to address national problems, situations or concerns that affect children and youth.
National PTA has put together a great Advocacy Toolkit with resources to help train and educate our members on how to advocate and more.
NJPTA Advocacy Moment videos:
Kids, Guns, & Safety: