The strength of more than 200 voices reverberated on Capitol Hill last week – voices raised on behalf of kids around the world in meetings with nearly 150 lawmakers and their staff.
The meetings were the culmination of the three-day 2019 Advocacy Summit, where Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) advocates from more than 35 states attended in-depth advocacy trainings, heard from leading experts on issues impacting children, and convened with their legislators to protect and invest in kids both here at home and overseas.
“What can change the world today is the same thing that has changed it in the past – an idea, and the service of dedicated, committed individuals to that idea,” SCAN CEO Mark Shriver told the 200-plus advocates, kicking off the 17th annual Summit with a quote from his father, Sargent Shriver.
The advocates, including more than 75 high school and college students from across the country, all came together in their commitment to the idea that further investments need to be made in early childhood education in the U.S., and more humanitarian support is needed for children around the world, where nearly one in five children live in areas affected by armed conflict and war.
This includes SCAN advocates like Nanette Arnold and Mihir Sardesai, who were honored at the Summit as Advocate of the Year and Student Advocate of the Year, respectively.
Nanette, a long-time teacher from western Tennessee, never spoke to a political candidate or attended a campaign event until last year. But as an early reading specialist, she knew how critically important early learning opportunities are for a child’s future success in school and life. So she set out last summer to talk to every candidate running for governor of Tennessee, as well as the state’s open Congressional seats. She did just that, asking pointed questions about early learning at more than 25 campaign events, and organizing her friends and colleagues across the state to do the same. In 2019, the newly-elected Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, has prioritized high-quality early childhood education for his transition team, and he directly credits his increased awareness on this issue to Nanette and her fellow SCAN advocates.
Mihir, a high school senior in the Seattle area, is so dedicated to helping kids in the U.S. and around the world get a strong start in life that he donated his summer savings from his tutoring job to Save the Children. As a Student Ambassador for SCAN, he has canvassed for kids’ issues at numerous local and state SCAN events, knocking on doors, making calls and starting conversations with voters. Mihir also created a thriving SCAN club at his school, and is always looking for new ways to engage with his peers on behalf of kids. Attending college in the fall, he is looking to make a career in political advocacy in order to continue to help children and families in need.
In addition, Save the Children and SCAN honored the advocacy efforts of SCAN volunteers in the city of Boise, Idaho at the Summit, giving them the Community Impact Award. The Boise advocates – Helga Frankenstein, Julie Goodman, Sean O’Gara, Megan Smith and Audrey Speicher – established SCAN’s footprint in Boise this past year, growing the network of volunteer advocates in the area, engaging with state leaders on the critical importance of early childhood education, and expanding SCAN’s voice for kids into new parts of the country.
These are the stories of just a few of the hundreds of advocates who raised their voices for kids on Capitol Hill this week, widening the ripple effect of SCAN’s growing grassroots network of nearly 280,000 supporters in all 50 states.