Today is day two of GiveBIG, Washington’s annual collective philanthropy effort. With so many amazing causes to consider, we are grateful for the support we are receiving, which fuels our work to make our state a place where young people from every zip code, racial and gender identity, income and background can learn and nurture their genius in public schools.  

This is our first year participating in GiveBIG, and it is also a time of many firsts and transitions for Stand. We recently rolled out our new and bold articulation of our commitment to being a catalyst for education equity and racial justice statewide. We’re engaging in new bodies of work including youth justice and academic acceleration policy implementation. And we’ve recently welcomed some fantastic new folks to the Stand team.  

Stand’s two newest team members, Carolina Fuentes and Megan Pirie, have offered their reflections about what excites them the most about Stand’s work and mission: 

Megan Pirie, Community Engagement Coordinator

“I joined Stand for Children to share in this necessary work of creating a world where all rights and freedoms are restored and protected. As a previous teen and incarcerated mom who grew up below the poverty line, I struggled to overcome barriers to access education and basic human rights. But as a child I watched my parents attend meetings at the schools and speak out on the difficult topics, modeling leadership for me and my six siblings, including my brother who was diagnosed with Autism in high school. This prepared my siblings and me to become first-generation college graduates, and it equipped me to advocate as the mother of five beautiful black children, four of whom are a part of our family by adoption via the foster system. I am most excited to see and be a part of the youth justice advocacy and anti-racist education work that Stand is doing to eliminate the school to prison pipeline and ensure not just access but supports and success for all children and families.” (Read more about Megan here)

Carolina Fuentes, Stand’s State Operations and Development Coordinator 

“Our education systems need improvement and that must start with ensuring black and brown communities have the needed resources to set students up for success. I joined Stand for Children because I want to improve accessibility to quality educational resources and spaces where children of color feel confident and supported.  I am a proud daughter of immigrant parents who came to this country to secure a better life for themselves and their children. Navigating the school system, I experienced a lack of support in obtaining what would have been helpful resources and mentors for my educational goals. However, I was lucky to have parents who taught me to fight for what I wanted and to be persistent in advocating for my needs, and most importantly made me feel like I was always worthy of the milestones I reached, even if I felt like I perhaps did not belong in the room at the time. Like many children who come from immigrant backgrounds, we often pave our own way and then help guide our parents, siblings, and families through what we have learned. It is not a burden; it’s how we demonstrate that we can all achieve success if someone just shows they care. I look forward to fighting alongside those students, communities, and educators who are here to remind our system-leaders and influencers that they exist, that they can be as successful, that they matter, and that they are the future.” (Read more about Carolina here)

We are grateful for Carolina and Megan for the leadership, expertise and passion they bring to the team.  

Thank you for Standing with us by participating in our first-ever GiveBIG campaign! 

Support us here: https://www.wagives.org/donate/Stand-For-Children-Washington 

Here at Stand for Children we are focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under-tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability. We are excited to show our support of the Autism community during the month of April, Autism Acceptance Month.  

1 in 44 children in the US is diagnosed on the spectrum – also known as ASD – and 31% of those with ASD will have a developmental disability. This means many families will face the complexities of supporting a loved one who is neurodiverse in our society.   

Stand is committed to advocating in partnership with those on the spectrum and their families. We do this by supporting policies for special education funding, inclusion models, and diversity training for teachers and school staff. We support families and self-advocates to share their stories to promote change in their communities. We are also committed as an organization to learning to be more inclusive in the work we do.  

For Stand, this issue is personal. Here’s what a few of our amazing team members have to say.  

“My younger brother was diagnosed with autism and developmental delays in 1990. We didn’t know any other families with autistic children, and there was so little known about ASD at that time. My parents spent his childhood years searching for needles in the haystack, grasping for anything that might support his unique needs.  

It is so encouraging to see how both understanding and acceptance of autistic people has grown over the past three decades. But we also know there is much more work ahead to ensure that my brother and other autistic people have the support they need to flourish.”


“Autism Acceptance month holds a new meaning for our family this year. Last month, our 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ASD level two. The path to diagnosis and access to services was very delayed for her.  She had entered the child welfare system at the age of two. She was an early reader and enjoys reading and music. I felt a sense of shock when our daughter was diagnosed. As I began to research diagnostic patterns for ASD,  I found that studies suggest that girls and women with autism are less likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men. Additionally, black children with autism are more than five times more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavior disorders, more likely to receive delayed diagnosis from doctors, and are more likely to be profiled, abused and harassed by police officers who are not trained in disability or sensitivity training. This was a truth for our daughter. She was diagnosed with an anti-social disorder, suspended from elementary school and threatened by the school resource officers.  Our daughter is dedicated to increasing acceptance for other BIPOC students with ASD to empower them with the supports they need.”

And last but not least, as we close out Autism Acceptance Month, Stand Fellow Devony Audet will also be closing out her time as our Spokane Special Education Fellow. Devony deserves a huge round of applause for the commitment and passion she has brought to this work and to her community.  

In her first blog with Stand, here is what Devony wrote about her commitment to this work:  

“My son has a lot on his shoulders already with his vast medical needs and he shouldn’t have to fight so hard just to get an equitable education. I want to make sure my son and other students like him aren’t falling through the cracks due to being differently abled. I want to make as much difference as I can in Special Education. I am doing everything I can in my district but I want to see how far we can make an impact. The sky is the limit. It is a discussion a lot of people are starting to have and we can make a huge impact!”

Devony has dedicated herself to successfully advocating for students who receive special education services, and helping parents learn how to advocate for their own children. A mother of three unique students with different interests, abilities, and needs, one of whose developmental path is affected by autism, Devony has helped many students like her son have a chance to unlock their full potential. We celebrate Devony for all she’s done to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism!   

How can you promote Autism Acceptance? First, we can all learn something new about autism and how it impacts the lives of those on the spectrum. Here is a link where you can learn more. You can also help advocate with Stand for educational policies that will positively impact those who in our school systems who have ASD. If you are a parent or an individual on the spectrum, you can partner with us to learn how to advocate at the local and state levels. (https://action.stand.org/FI22GpO

And finally, we can all wear blue in support of Autism Acceptance. We would love you to share your pictures wearing blue with us!