We Need To Be Teaching Asian American and Pacific Islander History:

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In May of 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill requiring the teaching of Asian American and Pacific Islander history in K-12 curriculums in Florida public schools. This came right on the heels of DeSantis barring public schools from participating in a pilot of the College Board’s course on African American Studies.

In response to the Florida Governor’s decisions, many activists were rightly outraged and spoke out in opposition to the educational and social-emotional harm this decision would have on Black students in Florida, not to mention the rippling effects it could have on local and state policies in other parts of the country.

While the pair of policies may appear contradictory to many observers, this would not be the first time unsavory political actors have attempted to pit Asian Americans against other minority groups in the US.

The model minority myth was invented and continues to be perpetuated to block those seeking to end the educational, economic, and social disparities facing marginalized communities and hurts everyone including Asian American students and community members.

Unfortunately, often lost in the intentionally drummed up outrage is space for conversations about the harm being used as political pawns has on Asian American communities, along with the near complete lack of Asian American History or Pacific Islander history being taught in public schools. Just 11 states require K-12 students to learn any AAPI history. Clearly, we have a real need for a thorough and accurate Asian American History and Pacific Islander Education in our schools.

First popularized amid the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the model minority myth was created to define Asian Americans in opposition to other racial/ethnic minority groups.

Relying on stereotypes and out-of-context data, this myth paints Asian Americans collectively as financially well-off, hardworking, and socially and politically docile. The model minority myth creates a monolithic story of over 26 million Americans with family ties to nearly 50 countries, erasing the vastly different backgrounds, histories, and lived experiences of dozens of different communities.

Like many marginalized communities in the US, most of us could sum up what we learn about Asian Americans into a few pages in our US history textbooks— if we’re lucky. For most American public school students, that might look like a brief discussion of Japanese internment during WWII, the red scare and rise of communist China, a blip about the Vietnam war, and for current students and recent graduates, possibly a lesson on the War on Terror. That is, if they make it that far before the end of year exams.

In these limited conversations, the stories, contributions of, and impacts on Asian Americans are rarely mentioned, if at all. In all these historical moments, Asian Americans are painted as “the foreign other” to be suspicious of, never as fellow Americans. This serves to isolate Asian American students and educators in the classroom and Asian parents and families in the broader community.

Discussions of the histories of Pacific Islanders in the US are even rarer. Few students in the US learn anything about the histories of the state of Hawai’i, US territories of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, and millions of Americans with ancestry from the islands of the Pacific. These gaps in our textbooks end up disappearing the voices and contributions of Pacific Islander communities in the US.

The way we currently teach AAPI histories (when we do) leads to real world harm. When Asian American and Pacific Islander students see their community members exclusively painted as a threat when mentioned, and otherwise disappeared from the rest of their textbooks, that causes serious mental and emotional harm. And it has major impacts on these students’ social and educational outcomes.

Paired with the pressure of unattainable standards perpetuated by the model minority myth, Asian students report experiencing adverse mental health conditions, including alarmingly high reports of thoughts of or attempted self-harm. Pacific Islander communities similarly experience erasure of their histories from textbooks along with high rates of young people reporting mental health issues.

This also manifests into violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from people who have spent their whole lives being taught to distrust their peers and neighbors.

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When we teach an inaccurate and incomplete American history and refuse to be honest about the ways that shapes the present, all students are harmed as they are robbed of a quality education and the opportunity to learn about the contribution of Asian American communities. And Asian American and Pacific Islander students take the brunt of this harm— mentally, socially, and academically.

1. Resist the Bait.

Politicians have long used Asian Americans and Pacific Islander as a wedge between communities of color looking to advance goals of equity and freedom. We must avoid allowing ourselves to be distracted by these attempts to separate those of us pushing for change, and instead form relationships and find spaces of shared struggle and solidarity with everyone in the fight for educational equity for all students.

2. Get Educated.

It is critical to educate ourselves and the people in our lives on the impacts Asian Americans have had on this country, issues facing Asian American and Pacific Islander students and communities today, and the need to join in the fight for safe, equitable education for every child.

3. Push for Change.

We have to continue to push for more opportunities for teaching Asian American and Pacific Islander history both in specialized classed but also as mandatory parts of a comprehensive US history and civics education.

National Library Week is here, and the time to rally behind our libraries is now. As extreme politicians seek to attack education and defund libraries through harmful policies, our support during this week is more critical than ever.

That’s why we joined our partners at We Believe, PEN America, and EveryLibrary to sign the joint open Love Letter to the librarians who support our schools and communities. And now, it’s your turn!

1. Sign the Library Love Letter. Join Stand and our partners from We Believe, PEN America, EveryLibrary, and other organizations in showing your support to libraries and their staff as hubs of knowledge and community by signing onto this Library Love Letter!

2. Sign up for a library card. Sign up for a card to get access to a multitude of books, movies, and other resources all while supporting continued funding for your local library. 

3. Get Connected. Explore We Believe, PEN America, and EveryLibrary’s National Library Week Action Guide for a range of activities at various levels of engagement, from sharing virtual stickers to urging Congress to protect the freedom to read.

One of the most effective ways we can all support libraries and library staff this National Book Week is by signing up for a library card and visiting our local library branches! 

Need some suggestions on your next read? We asked our staff members what books they’re reading. Here are 5 reads they can’t stop raving about:

“Children Can’t Learn on an Empty Stomach”

How Organizing in the Black Community Secured Food For Millions of American Students

On January 20, 1969, eleven school children sat down for breakfast in the St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Oakland, California, free of charge. The children ate eggs, grits, fruit, and milk donated by local grocery stores, planned by nutritionists, and prepared by community volunteers. This was the start of one of the most impactful grassroots social welfare programs in national history, organized and operated by the Black Panther Party, a Black power political organization operating at the height of the 20th century Black Liberation Movement.

The BPP’s Free Breakfast Program was a collaborative effort of community members coming together to address a need in their community— namely, children’s lack of consistent access to nutritious food. By the end of the first week, that group of eleven children had ballooned into over 130. And by New Years Day of 1970, the BPP had served breakfast to over 20,000 school children across the country. At its peak, the Free Breakfast Program was responsible for providing breakfast to thousands of children every day across 45 different cities, regardless of their race.

The program immediately showed positive results. “The school principal came down and told us how different the children were,” recalls Ruth Beckford, a volunteer with the Free Breakfast Program. “They weren’t falling asleep in class, they weren’t crying with stomach cramps.”

And the BPP didn’t end their social welfare programming at breakfast, expanding to providing dozens of other programs at no cost to the community. In response to anti-Black policies that left Black, low-income, and urban communities to fend for themselves, BPP ran grassroots programs like their free health clinics, ambulance services, senior support services, and even free pest control for urban housing often left in dilapidated conditions by local governments.

While the popularity of the program quickly skyrocketed, everyone wasn’t quite so happy about children getting free food. The radical liberation group had long been a thorn in the side of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, which saw the Free Breakfast Program as a threat that built trust between Black and urban communities and local Black Panther Party chapters. The FBI director feared this community building would lead to a further expansion of BPP’s ideas. But despite open, and often violent hostility from federal and local officers, the program continued to grow as thousands of children showed up to eat breakfast before school each day.

This popularity put pressure on politicians to create their own program to feed children before school. In 1975, the federal government implemented a permanent School Breakfast Program. Today, the SBP feeds over 14.5 million children before school. The implementation of a federal school breakfast program was a direct result of the community organizing of the Black Panther Party and serves as proof that local actions can have massive ripples. The work we do with our neighbors today has the ability to impact generations to come.

What Black History moments have Impacted your community? Let us know by sharing your black history stories!

Become an Education Champ in 2024!

5 Ways You Can Make A Difference For Students Today

If there’s one lesson from last year, it’s that good things happen when we come together. As we step into the new year, let’s continue leveraging the power of community. Regardless of your advocacy role, here are 5 ways you can make a difference for students this year:

1. Amid ongoing book bans, consider taking action outside of the classroom. Visit your local library with your student to help expose your student to more diverse stories and improve their literacy. Signing up for a library card can go a long way in supporting your library system. Look to our library friend @mychal3ts for recommendations and inspiration.

2. Harness the power of community! Collaborate with local organizations, educators, and parents to create a supportive network for students. By working together, we can address challenges, foster inclusivity, and create a nurturing environment for learning. Join our Education Champions Facebook group to find like-minded education advocates and resources.

3. Commit to actively supporting & advocating for students. Whether it’s providing mentorship or amplifying student voices, let’s ensure they feel seen & supported. Check out Rose from Concrete, an organization working to support students in their community.

4. Think globally, act locally. Advocate for policies that prioritize student well-being and education at the community level. Together, we can build a supportive environment that fosters growth, learning, and success for EVERY student. Get involved here.

5. Stay Connected! Follow us on social media and join our email list to receive updates, resources, and action opportunities all 2024!

What are some ways you are planning to be an advocate for students in 2024? What are some tips you would give to others who want to make a difference for students? Let us know in the comments below!




A Q&A with our partners at Rose from Concrete, a youth led organization working to support students in their community through mutual aid, direct advocacy, and youth mentorship.

It’s because of community members like you that we are able to join our partners in the fight for an equitable education for students. Connect with us to receive regular updates that empower you to make a meaningful impact on the lives of students and contribute to a more just and equitable education system!

what inspired you to form this organization?

Kayla Williams:

We at Rose from Concrete have grown to understand love as the will to extend yourself for either your own or another person’s growth. Thank you bell hooks. And we’ve got examples of love and what it looks like in action, right? Because we believe that love is action it’s not just words or feelings. And so I say that I love myself, I love my community, I love my people.

And I’m frustrated by the conditions that we are often expected to live in, in complacency. But how could I be complacent? How could I not be, you know, angered, fearful, upset, by, you know, the scarcity, the violence that we’re, you know, expected to live under? So, yeah,

I’m motivated by love to play my role in creating community or co-creating a world that reflects the needs and desires of my community.

Shanniah Wright:

There’s a long list of reasons that I was able to co-found Rose from Concrete. The main one, I think, is because I come from a single parent household. My mom raised both me and my brother by herself, and I had to watch her every day, not even knowing that sometimes think about how she was going to feed us, how she was going to pay rent and just ultimately watching the system in general fail her.

She was able to put me in a position where I can think critically about the issues and problems that go on around me, which allowed me to co-create and co-found Rose from Concrete. But I know that every single day that there are other single mothers, there are other community members or just people in general that the system is consistently failing.

I think that people should not have to choose between happiness and survival. I think that survival should be the bare minimum and that everyone should be able to choose to do what they want to do without the pressures of whether they were going to eat, sleep or breathe weighing down on them.

Osariemen Aiyevbomwan:

What pushed me to start this work is that I come from a big Nigerian-American household, and so for many of my siblings and myself included, being black and marginalized has really disrupted our connections to safety in our homes and in the world at large. And the violence inflicted


on us has corrupted our intimate relationships with ourselves, but also with one another and each other. And because of these struggles, we’ve been alienated from our home, whether it be an unconscious or conscious effort.

And I’m of the mind that we all belong here, that we all have a right to feel safe and free during our time here on this earth. And so,

I want to restore the relationships with ourselves in our environment so that our descendants inherit a more free world.

I believe that we are redeemable and that justice is possible through coordinated action to get us free. And for me, RFC has presented the opportunity to do just that and also feel at home while doing it.

where did the name “rose from concret” come from and how is it reflected in the work you all do?

Shanniah Wright:

Rose from the concrete is a play on word rose as in the verb and the noun, the rose as a flower rose, as in the act of rising. And this is a really cool play on word because we use concrete as talking about the jungle that is New York, the concrete that we walked every single day that we grow up in roses sprouting from it and actually rising from our circumstances.

I love our name just because it allows us to create and nurture and play on those words of growth and growing and something beautiful, which are flowers and concrete being something rough. And as a big Tupac fan Rose that grew from the concrete. I think we embody that and we want other people to see themselves in that beautiful lens as a rose as something to be nurtured and grown. And that can grow in the most unexpected places.



Kayla Williams:

I would say that students face very a multifaceted set of challenges. I think I kind of think of them or characterize them in three ways. First, I think there are material and basic physiological needs, right? We live in a society that allows scarcity to exist in abundance, which means that families deal with things like poverty, housing insecurity, food in access, that sort of thing.

And so children, you know, they belong to families, they are part of families. And they don’t simply shed that when they walk into the school door. So, you know, children, many of them are coming to school with these material needs still existing. And then, of course, they’re dealing with, I think the attack on education that we’re seeing. But that has been going on for, you know, frankly, forever.

Right. Are we ever really learning the truth I think an empowering truth in our schools, that’s up for debate. And then I think there is the socio-emotional, you know, challenges that come with being a young person, feeling powerless in a society that is telling you what you should look like, what you should be like, constantly reminding you how you, you know, pale in comparison to that.


Osariemen Aiyevbomwan:

When I was in school feeling the pressure to remain OK, and also remain a good student, but also navigating a school environment that was very frustrating and dismissive of my experiences I leaned on the experiences of those who came before me. So mentorship really carried me through my school experience. And that is why RFC prioritizes peer mentorship and community as a protective factor in the lives of young students. When feeling anxiety it’s something that I do to reassure the youth in my community is letting them know that they have resources and they have people who look like them, who can relate to their experiences and keep them grounded in the power of love and in the power of community. So that is something that has also reassured me.



Kayla Williams:

I would say that we aim to respond to the three buckets of needs that we identified. So material needs we aim to address through our mutual aid efforts. So aiming to have resources and funds pooled together so that if, you know, emergent needs do arise for youth, that we are able to offer them, you know, tangible support or connect them to someone who can do that.

Because once again, how can you prioritize the academic or the emotional if you know, you have more dire needs in front of you? We also offer, you know, like academic training and curriculum. So tutoring. Shaquille recently started a robotics program, you know, like to give tangible academic skills and support. And then finally we aim at the socio-emotional through our curricula on love and through our mentorship program.

I would definitely recommend that people just start to have conversations. I think, like I said before, one of the most powerful tools


of opposition is to convince folks that they are alone, that you are an individual against capitalism, you are an individual against white supremacy, you are an individual against misogyny. And so you feel like in response to that, I need to, you know, pick myself up by the bootstraps instead of coming together as a collective right, as a team, as a group, you know, as is done, you know, across sectors, right?

Usually creating progress in the direction that we don’t want. People aren’t doing that as individuals. They’re doing that, you know, with the help of decades of systems and policies and groups and people. And, you know, so I think talk to people around you recognize that you’re not alone in your beliefs and your desires, what you want to see in the world. And once you start to realize, wait you want the world to look like this, you want it to look like this too, you do too. Why doesn’t it? Right.

Collectively, we have power, we have voting power, we have spending power, we have political power. So, you know, why doesn’t the world look how we want it to look?


Osariemen Aiyevbomwan:

Some starting points for parents and for the folks who are looking to be more and more involved in their community would definitely be to start small. I’ll start looking right. We are under the misguided impression that we need to go elsewhere and abroad to find something good. But I would say talk to your neighbor for an extra ten to 15 minutes.

Share your struggles, problem solve together. You don’t know what nuggets of wisdom these conversations may unlock within us just by virtue of our continued existence here in these environments, we all have access to so much knowledge and expert or problem solving skills that deserve to be shared and used to generate community solutions.

So form little groups and little gathering spaces and be intention in fostering those intimate connections. You never know what love and magic comes out of those efforts.

Kayla Williams:

Folks can support funds. Like I said before, we want to be able to respond to immediate needs, physiological needs, basic needs through resources and funds that we pull together so folks can contribute to that. And I think we need support as well as an organization, marketing support, communications, volunteering you know, media, really anything and everything we could really support on.

And I would say, yeah, it’s a mutual aid organization and so we aim to bring our time, our resources, our efforts, our knowledge together and to collectively drive change with that so you can fit in that wherever you know, feels right to you. But I would also say that you can do things in your own community too closer to you, with your people, your family, your friends, your you know, I think that is a larger vision that we’re working together for that has, I think, space in your city, in your home.

It doesn’t have to be in Brooklyn where we are, though that would be nice. We believe that love is a force that can through it all, despite the concrete, grow roses, create futures that we’re told are impossible ones of life and, you know, nourishment and fruit. So, yeah, we believe that we can do the impossible collectively, and through love at Rose from Concrete.


photo of ida speaking at podium in front of protesters with picket signs. Poster on podium reads "Illinois workers and families deserve a tax break"
photo of ida speaking at podium in front of protesters with picket signs. Poster on podium reads "Illinois workers and families deserve a tax break"


Ida nelson spearheaded what would become the Jett Hawkins anti-hair discrimination law. Now, she wants you to join her in fighting for students.

In August of 2021, Chicago mother Ida Nelson stood with her son, Jett Hawkins, as Illinois governor JB Pritzker signed the Jett Hawkins Anti-Hair Discrimination Act into law. A year before, Jett, age 4, was sent home from school with an ultimatum— change his hairstyle or face suspension. The hair in question? A freshly braided set of cornrows, a traditional hairstyle in the African American community. “That day, Jett had worn his hair in braids, something that made him feel proud and happy.” Ida told me.

Even though the Crown Anti-Hair Discrimination Act has been signed into law in 20 states since 2019, these racist  policies exist both in writing and in practice in school districts around the country. Discretionary dress code policies have been especially wielded against Black and Indigenous students who are disciplined at alarming rates for wearing their hair in its natural state or culturally significant styles. This wasn’t the first time Ida had heard of these discriminatory policies at her son’s school—but she made sure it would be the last.

Jett Hawkins, Fox News 32

“I oftentimes get upset about the injustices that I see. But being upset is just a starting point. It’s a call to action for me to decide what I can do about it.” 

The Jett Hawkins Bill was signed into law in 2021, protecting over two million Illinois students from facing learning disruption for wearing their natural hair and cultural hairstyles. But Ida’s work isn’t over. And now she is calling on parents around the country to follow her lead. “I know that my community is going to be changed for the better in my lifetime by me just doing these little things and getting other people to buy in and to do the little things with me. And that has a snowballing effect and can make big changes.”

With the repealing of policies of inclusion in schools across the country, in tandem with the rising passage of book bans and restrictions on teaching students about marginalized communities in America, many parents are faced with similar scenarios at their own schools. I sat down with Ida Nelson to shed light on her journey and the pathways other parents can take to change these policies and protect their children.

JY: Okay, so you get a call from the administration of Jett’s school telling you to change his hair or he’s getting suspended. How did you know what steps to take next to push back against this discrimination?

IN: I am a person that once I start thinking about something, I won’t let it go. I am also that person that whenever I see something wrong, I’m not going to go to the manager, I’m going to write corporate. 

For me it’s important to really hone in on what the issue is. Why did I feel so upset hearing this? Because it was not just about hair. That was the surface problem, but it was the combination of all the things that we’re talking about. Like why is it that my four-year-old little Black boy’s hair is offensive and banned with zero tolerance? That’s teaching kids that how they show up is not acceptable, and that they must change that in order to fit in with their society. And we know that that’s not true.

If you’re constantly targeting Black children for behavioral things, messing with their mentality or their understanding of what makes them special and unique, you know, interrupting their confidence, then that disrupts what they believe that they’re able to do and it keeps perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

But it also was about me being methodical and strategic. I knew that this was bigger than a hairstyle instinctually, but I needed to figure out how to articulate what the actual problem was and not from just an emotional standpoint. So, I started doing my research and writing out the statistics for how many times Black children have their academics disrupted for their hair. I started collecting all of that information, then I started collecting information about other instances of Black children being targeted with academic disruption and being kicked out of school for these zero tolerance policies.

JY: And after all this researching, how did you know who to contact about your problem?

IN: So, I did start with the proper channels. I started with the school, and the principal and I requested to speak with the board. And then I worked my way to the alumni. You know, I found my allies. When I felt like I wasn’t being heard I went to social media.

Then I went to the media after I got folks to buy into the idea that this is a problem, and why it’s a problem. And then we started working on the law, like I started reaching out to legislators, and working on trying to get it started with my aldermen, my own senator, Trisha Van Pelt, state representatives. And I looked at precedents. The Crown Act was the precedent that I was able to run off of, showing that my issue was something that was against the law.

JY: As you’ve worked on getting the Jett Hawkins Act passed and now implementation, you’ve been forthcoming about your own background. Why is it important to you to talk about your personal story?

IN: That’s the thing about storytelling, you telling and sharing your story is going to empower and inspire somebody else. And that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to empower and inspire.

Ida continues to spread positivity and have an impact on her community today, whether it be in policy implementation or using her ice cream business to get local parents and children involved in the community. She stands as a precedent for other parents who are facing similar issues in their own local communities. My key takeaways for how parents can learn from this conversation with Ida are:

  1. Be bold! Be the leader that you want to see. Someone has to step up to the plate, and there is no reason it can’t be you.
  2. Speak up! Leverage your story to your networks. Use social media, talk to people in your community, find some way to make noise about the issues you care about the most.
  3. Look for allies! There are people that you can find who already are doing the thing you’re trying to do or can help connect you with people who can help. 

Whatever path you take, know that you, like Ida, can make a difference in the lives of your community.


Why Tell Stories?

Group of American activists protesting

Humans are wired for storytelling. It is how we learn about and relate to the world around us. From movies, to campaign speeches, to restaurant recommendations from friends, we experience and share stories everyday that shape our thoughts and actions.

When we use those stories to inspire changes in the actions of our friends, families, and communities, that is called Public Narrative. Simply put, public narrative is using storytelling towards a shared goal. 

People are ignited by their emotions, which is why we focus on storytelling. But passion alone is not enough. We need to direct that passion towards a common goal. This is why public narrative cannot be done in isolation. Unlike a personal story, we must engage with the collective story of the community we are in.

We develop public narrative through deep listening. That means being an active part of the community. Remember, sharing our stories is an act of leadership that inspires others to join us in making change! So, introduce yourself to your neighbors, attend local events, join a book club! Find ways to get to know the people around you so you can have a nuanced understanding of the shared values, experiences, and beliefs you have with the people around you.

“Well-told stories help turn
moments of great crises into
moments of new beginnings.”

– Marshall Ganz

Public Narrative: A Story in 3 acts

We can imagine building a Public Narrative as telling a story in 3 acts. Those are the Story of Self (call to leadership), Story of Us (shared values and experiences), and the Story of Now (urgent issues + strategies).

Remember, Public Narrative is about the process, not strict rules! These are all guideline to help you get started. We develop our storytelling skills by sharing, listening, reflecting, and then sharing again. Make this story your own, and applicable to your community!

Feel free to play with the order of these for the most compelling version for your experiences and whoever you are talking to. What is important to remember is that all of these pieces are connected and feed into one another!

Story of SelF

We can think of the story of self as the reason you were called to speak about the issue at hand. In this part of the story, we are looking for the experiences and memories you have that make you feel passionately about the issue. Give clear images and details to paint the scene. Below are some reminders and guiding questions to keep in mind when writing your Story of Self:

Story of us

This is the point where you connect with the other person or audience. Why should they care about this issue? And why should they trust you? We want to build trust through grounding the story in the shared values, experiences, and beliefs you have with your audience. Below are some guiding questions and ideas to keep in mind when writing your Story of Us:

story of now

In the final part of the story, tell the other person what is happening right now that needs their attention. Three things to remember when discussing the current issues facing your community is to describe why the issue is urgent, why it is important, and to give them hope that they can help make a difference. Below are some guiding questions and ideas to keep in mind when writing your Story of Now:

Good Stories Have A Plot!

The key plot points to remember are the challenge you faced, the choice you made, and the outcome of your choice. Below are some guiding questions for each of these plot points.

  • When was a time you realized the value of a good education?
  • Do you remember a moment when you felt like fair access to education was being threatened?
  • Do you have any memories of engaging with ideas and experiences from other communities that had an impact on you?
  • Have you taken any classes, read books, or participated in events related to this issue?
  • In that moment, did you say or do anything?
  • Is there anything you wish you would have said or done?
  • Why did you make that choice? How do you remember feeling at the time?
  • How were your thoughts or actions different after that moment?
  • What ways have you engaged with this issue since that moment?
Shared Experiences + Beliefs

Dig into those things you relate on to find common ground and build trust in your audience that you are someone they can relate to.

Guiding Questions
  • Do you and the other person (or people in the audience) have any shared experiences?
  • Do you work at the same job?
  • Are you all religious?
  • Do you love being in nature?
  • Do you care a lot about a local school?
Values, Values, Values!

We want to highlight shared values as motivation for action. Describe how these values are impacted by the issue you care about. Paint a picture of how their values would be realized if they act or threatened if they do not take action.

Values Examples
  • Loyalty
  • Compassion
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Integrity
  • Family-Oriented
  • Determination
  • Generosity
  • Tolerance
  • Community
  • Fairness
  • Justice
  • Religion
  • Safety
  • Self-Reliance
Urgent, Important, and Achievable

In the final part of the story, tell the other person what is happening right now that needs their attention. Three things to remember when discussing the current issues facing your community is to describe why the issue is urgent, why it is important, and to give them hope that they can help make a difference.

Urgent + Important
  • Link the sense of urgency to the shared values from the story of us.
  • Describe how your shared values are under threat in the current moment.
  • Describe how action taken now will help to ensure your ability to continue to practice your values.
Give Hope

The urgency + importance of an issue can often be upsetting.

We need to also leave the audience with hope that the world can change.

Paint a picture of a world where your goals are achieved.

Remind the audience that they can make a difference!

Practice exercises

1. In what ways do you engage with your community? What new ways would you like to try engaging with your community?
2. Using the guiding questions from the Story of Self plot points, describe why it’s important that all students– regardless of how they look, live and love– feel included, supported and safe in school.
3. Using the list of values above as an example, name five values or experiences you share with your community that relate to the reason education matters to you.
4. Using the shared values and experiences you listed, describe why members of your community should join you in fighting for high quality education for all students. (i.e. “We all care about ___ so we should all care about this issue.)
5. Tell us what current issues or opportunities around education are happening in your community? What can be done about those things? Why should we take action now?

Put it All together: The story of you!

You did it! Combine your practice responses from questions 2-5 to create your own public narrative. And when you are finished, share it with us! With all our voices together, we can make a difference!

Remember, this is a guideline, not a rule book. The best way to develop this skill is to practice! Every time you work your storytelling muscles by engaging your friends, family, and neighbors, your story will improve. As you continue to mold your story, the feedback and responses from your audience will help you grow as a speaker and add nuance to your understanding of the issue, making you a better advocate. Whether talking to a family member or speaking at your local parents’ group, remember that your stories have the ability to change minds and make a difference. So, use your voice!

Want to start the conversation with your community? Download the Empower app and invite 3 people you know who also want to discuss these important issues. Together with our communities, we can find new solutions, and make real changes.  

three children reading books sitting on cushions

I ran for the school board in Pleasantville because I believe all children deserve to receive the best educational and emotional support. I’m a mother of three students who currently attend Pleasantville public schools, and my fourth child will be enrolling this fall. Pleasantville is a diverse city in southern New Jersey with classrooms filled with Black and Latino students and teachers. Which is why I was surprised when my son told me how rare it is for his lessons to mention the history and contribution of communities of color in this country.

Learning about the lack of accurate history being taught, and the reality that students of color and those living in poverty were denied the same resources present in nearby school districts pushed me to run for the school board. I was determined that these students have a fair opportunity to succeed. When I was elected, I was truly honored to have the chance to work with my fellow board members and the rest of the community to make our school district reach the potential that I know it can reach.

Now, I feel like we are really starting to see change, and that the students can see it too. Just last month, the high school held their first Juneteenth celebration. While that is a great start, I don’t want it to end there. I’m hoping for next year to be a community-wide event that gives students a clear understanding of the past and a chance to celebrate the future. To me, being on the school board makes me feel like I can make a real difference in the education of my children, and of all the children in my community. If I had to say something to all the parents in the district, it would be to not be afraid to run for something, join an organization, or find a way to get involved in making our schools safer, healthier places.

Cassandra Clements

School Board Member, Pleasantville Board of Education

We needed 283 votes to save our school. Little Red is a K-4 school, the only school in Croydon. The older students are allowed to choose one of the nearby middle and high schools to attend, and our district covers the expenses. That’s how the original budget worked at least.  

We got our last big snowstorm in March, on the day of the annual school budget vote. Anti-public-school extremists used the resulting low turnout to slash the district budget in half. It passed and I was in disbelief. With the new budget, Little Red would close, and Croydon parents would have to pay $8,000- $9,000 per student to send them to public schools. I was devastated thinking of what this meant for my 3 children and all the students I taught every day.  

Other parents felt just like I did. Stand up for Croydon Students, the organization we eventually formed, started off as just a group of worried parents trying to figure out how to protect our children. We eventually found a way that would allow for a budget re-vote, but only if we were able to turn out 283 voters. Croydon is home to about 800 people, and in my time on the school board, only about 50 of them usually came out to vote.

So, we got to work. We spent the next few weeks drafting up petitions, posting lawn signs, calling neighbors, and knocking on doors. To see so many people come together to protect our children, it felt good to know that your neighbors really care about the community.  

It was the first week of May and the YMCA camp dining hall was packed with friends and neighbors. Still, we couldn’t risk not having enough voters turn up, and spent the morning calling to remind everyone how important it was to come out, vote, and protect our schools. The hall was bubbling with energy as the vote was counted, and in a landslide vote of 377 – 2, we won. Weeks of hard work paid off.  

In that moment, we had stood up against extreme politicians to say no to privatizing our schools, that we would fight to make sure that all our students had a quality education. We proved that when we fight together, we win.  

Thomas Moore
High School STEM Teacher, New Hampshire

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I’ve participated with Home Visit Partnerships for several years, and when I visit a student’s home, I love when they show me their favorite books. As a teacher, I hope every family I visit has a home library for their children, but unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Research has shown a home library increases vocabulary development, academic success, and an overall life success.

During one visit with a kindergarten student, I realized there were no books in the home at all. I began sending books home with the student throughout the fall and, when I visited their home again in the spring, the family had purchased a small bookcase to hold all the books. They were so proud to have a home library for their little reader!

Donate today to provide books for young students!

I will never forget how my student grabbed a book off their shelf and hopped up next to me and started reading. Then, their 3-year-old sibling grabbed a book and hopped up on my lap next to us and started “reading” by flipping through and looking at the pictures.

That moment highlighted the importance of making sure all my students have access to books. My student isn’t just learning how to read, they’re developing their love for reading and the skills to help them succeed in school and life.

Home Visit Partnerships has teamed up with Unite for Literacy to change the book deserts in North Texas into book gardens. By donating today, you are helping HVP teachers to build home libraries for their students and families, changing the trajectory of a child’s life.

With your gift, you will help plant the seeds for a child’s love of reading to flourish.