From State Fairs to Prime Time TV: How Iowa Showed Up for Kids

iowa caucus

It all started in 2018.

Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) Iowa volunteers and I were standing there surrounded by hay bales at the Iowa State Fair. We were there to ask Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds how she would invest in kids if she was re-elected. One of us noticed a man walking around, talking to people, sipping a big gulp, and gnawing on a giant turkey leg. That man was entrepreneur Andrew Yang. We went up to him and asked how he would prioritize early childhood education if elected president. Thus we were thrusted into the 2020 presidential primary race.

Moments like this happen all the time in Iowa, and it’s one of the reason I love the Iowa caucuses.

Since then we interacted with more and more candidates as they came through Iowa, and nearly every candidate shared his or her plan for expanding early learning programs, like child care and preschool. After a few repeat visits, the candidates began to recognize our amazing volunteers and seek them out to thank them for raising critical kids’ issues.

All in all, we’ve had 268 SCAN volunteers attend 130 candidate events. Amazing! They even went a step further. SCAN volunteers have been able to get 9 presidential candidates to commit – on video – to prioritize early education in their first 100 days of office. One of our volunteers even had her question about child care affordability asked during the January CNN debate!

Its’ amazing to think how our committed volunteers took time out of their busy lives – these are volunteers in school, volunteers who have jobs, volunteers who have families, commitments, responsibilities – to advocate for kids and make sure that the people who want to lead our country do the same. It makes me so proud. They showed up during the hot, sticky Iowa summer months and in the bitter cold winter months. They never quit – including on caucus night.

As I reflect on the amazing work from #TeamIowa, I’m really excited to pass the baton to SCAN volunteers in New Hampshire and South Carolina. They have also been doing a phenomenal job of engaging presidential candidates, and I can’t wait to see what they will do next!

The 2019-2020 caucus season reminds me of the huge difference people can make when they care enough to show up and demand change for our nation’s most precious resource – our children.

Our movement isn’t done. There’s still more to do to fight for the right of every child to have a strong start and a bright future – no matter where they’re from.

I hope you will join us and raise your voice for kids!

Learn more about our work around the 2020 presidential election.

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E.J. Wallace is the Mobilization Manager for Iowa. He brings a deep passion for social justice and community engagement to the SCAN team, fueled by his family and faith. E.J. is an Iowa native, and is excited to work in his home state, mobilizing Iowans to hold policy makers accountable to children and families.