Feature Story or Blog

The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for families across this country, including mine. My husband lost his job, and as a result, we lost something very important in our lives: our home.

As the mother of five, I was terrified. It was a very difficult situation as I did not have a stable place to provide for my children. Now, my husband is living in a different place with more job opportunities while my children and I are living with my parents.

The increased child tax credit is going to be a godsend for my family. When the payments start arriving in July, I will be able to provide food, clothing and — in a not too distant time — a roof for my children. But this tax credit is supposed to end in 2022, so we need lawmakers to vote to make it permanent.

Knowing that month after month we can count on financial support would give us hope to be able to move forward faster from the financial harm that the pandemic caused my family.

You can learn more about the child tax credit at childtaxcredit.govEven if you didn’t earn enough money last year to need to file taxes, you can still sign up to get the payments if your family qualifies.

I know that nothing is worse than not being able to give your kids what they need. This tax credit will be a lifeline for my family and so many others working hard to care for their kids.

JoI Johnson (left) canvasses with a fellow Stand student volunteer during a recent election. JoI organized and led the student canvassing team.
JoI Johnson (left) canvasses with a fellow Stand student volunteer during a recent election. JoI organized and led the student canvassing team.

I believe students deserve a say in their education. That’s why I joined Stand for Children in 10th grade and started going to school board meetings, writing local government leaders, and organizing other students in the community to get involved, too.

When you support Stand, you support students like me who are working to be leaders in their community and give back.

Last month, I graduated salutatorian from my high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and this fall, I’ll be attending Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama on a full presidential academic scholarship. My plan is to study political science and criminal justice, go to law school, then become a district attorney. My goal is to bring justice to people who are deprived of it.

I see what happens when students and families are excluded from the conversation. I know I have that voice that can go across the whole world, and I am going to keep standing up, speaking up and making a difference for children and families.

I’m grateful for the leadership and advocacy experience I gained with Stand, and I’m glad to know students who come after me can benefit from the same opportunities — with your support.

Did you know that kids who are committed to Oregon’s Youth Justice System are charged administrative fees that can follow them well into adult life? I was one of those kids, and the trauma of the financial burden it placed on my family follows me to this day.

My name is Siobhan, and I am a Black woman who grew up in Oregon. When I was 15 years old, I made the mistake of shoplifting a pair of pants for a Father’s Day gift and got caught by the store before I made it out the door. The staff pulled my friend and I into a backroom and told us they were going to call the police. We both pleaded with them to call our parents instead, but minutes later the police arrived. I was handcuffed. My white friend had also shoplifted. They let her go without searching her and she walked out with her stolen item and without having to enter Oregon’s justice system.

The expenses started to add up immediately. My mom had to take off work for the court date which meant less money in the paycheck. Then, the court assigned me a fine in addition to the court fees. Any unexpected expense was devastating to us, and it all fell on my mom, who at the time was doing all she could to keep a roof over my head, food on the table and the lights on. 

It was difficult. We did not have the payments every month, so late fees and non-payment fees were piled on. When you barely have enough for food you hardly think about paying the court. My mom did the best she could to pay for my mistake. Finally, when I was in college, she paid the last payment. We celebrated.

There is something wrong with a system that punishes people for being poor. That is exactly what happened to me and my mom. We did not have money for a good lawyer. We did not have the time to go into court for an appeal.

We don’t need a system that pushes kids and families further out, but one that helps us do well. That’s why I am asking lawmakers to support Senate Bill 817 which will remove these unjust administrative fees for kids and ensure the next generation of youth will not have a story like mine. If you live in Oregon, will you join me and send an email to lawmakers now in support of SB817?

Twenty-five years ago today, on June 1, 1996, 300,000 people stood together for children at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

What began as an historic rally has become a bold and vital organization impacting the education and lives of children furthest from justice across the nation.

Stand for Children’s 25th anniversary comes at a time of unique possibility to make progress toward racial and social justice.

For the rest of our lives, we may never have a better chance to reduce child poverty, increase economic mobility, root out individual and systemic racism, and close our nation’s racial wealth chasm. 

Stand is passionately committed to seizing this opportunity to achieve lasting positive changes for children, for families, and for society as a whole. 

We know you are, too, and look forward to standing strong together in the crucial weeks and months ahead.

Thank you for doing all you can, in every facet of your life, to meet this moment.

My first time voting was the 2016 presidential election. I still remember how proud and empowered I felt placing my ballot into the drop box here in Oregon, where we have widespread vote-by-mail.

My family are immigrants from Oaxaca, Mexico, and having the right to vote is cherished in immigrant communities — especially since a lot of us don’t have that right. That’s why it’s so upsetting to see some states putting up barriers to intentionally stop eligible Americans from voting.

I’m sharing my voting story because I want my U.S. Senators to understand that, for democracy to work for us all, it must include us all. 

Will you share your voting story with your Senators today to encourage them to support voting access legislation?

No one should be effectively denied their right to vote because of their zip code, their work schedule, or because they want to protect their health. I think about my uncles who work all day — 12-hour shifts — and don’t have time to go stand in line for hours to cast a ballot. This is the reality for many hard-working American families, and we need to make sure lawmakers in Washington D.C. take action to ensure we all have flexibility and freedom to vote.

Two bills currently being considered in Congress, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would implement equally accessible voting options across all 50 states and make sure any changes to voting rules that could discriminate against voters based on race or background would be federally reviewed.

Share your voting story today to move your Senators to support these bills so we can have safe and accessible elections for all.

May is Teacher Appreciation Month, and after all the sacrifices and ever-evolving adjustments teachers have made to ensure their students keep learning during the pandemic, I hope everyone will take a moment to reflect and say thank you. 

If there’s an educator you want to acknowledge, write a short thank you note with this form and Stand for Children will share it on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

I see what the educators with Home Visit Project have done this past year, taking time outside of their workday to make sure their students and students’ families have food and access to information about medical care and vaccines. As a former educator myself, let me assure you this: Teachers care.

The people who choose this profession — and those who have stuck with it during this pandemic — want the very best for their students. It’s why they quickly modified all their lesson plans to be suitable for video conferences. It’s why some ventured back into the classroom, even before vaccines were widely available, to serve students who needed in-person instruction. It’s why they are texting, calling and emailing families every day to ask how they’re really holding up through all this and if they need anything.

Please take the opportunity today to thank an educator, either someone currently teaching or someone who influenced you in your past. 

It’s hard not to feel exhausted right now. All of us are nearly two years into this seemingly endless pandemic, which has not only taken the lives of more than 840,000 Americans but has also exposed the undeniable racial and economic inequalities that riddle our society.

I understand if you’re tired — if you want to disengage, to stop reading depressing and infuriating news stories, to stop speaking up when you see injustices because the stream of distress and grief feels never-ending. I get it.

Change can feel impossible, but I’ve seen firsthand through our work at Stand for Children that it’s not. In the last year alone, Stand volunteers organized parents, testified at school board meetings, knocked on doors, called and texted voters, and did whatever necessary to secure better futures for their children and others in their community. Stand families didn’t give up because they knew it wasn’t an option.

This is how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy lives on. Dr. King set the example for refusing to give up. He knew progress was possible, and he proved it’s only achievable when you step up and do the daunting work instead of relying on others to carry that responsibility.

Stand has always sought to achieve high-quality education opportunities for all kids, but we recognize, as we always have, that there’s more to ensuring generations of families have equal opportunities to succeed. Systemic racism infects beyond the classroom. That’s why we have updated our mission to explicitly name who we are and what we are fighting for.

From the federal level to the family level, we use every tool available to fight for outcomes that enrich the lives of students and their families. That includes:

  • advocating for increased education funding generally and specifically to increase high school graduation rates and young people’s readiness for college and career
  • partnering with more than 140 high schools in six states to boost graduation rates through the Center for High School Success and helping educators identify antiracist curriculum and build antiracist teaching through the Center for Antiracist Education, and
  • reducing the reach and the harm of the criminal legal system by advocating to eliminate youth justice system fines and fees.

The solutions we champion are backed by evidence and the true experts — the parents, educators and others who are directly affected by the problems at hand.

We are all living through an unimaginable time. Every day feels like a new mountain to climb. But let Dr. King’s words manifest brighter horizons: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

Join us in this struggle. Keep standing with the families who refuse to give up. And know you will not be alone on this journey for change.