How to Get the Technology Your Local PTA Needs

The first question we often hear at National PTA is … are PTAs allowed to spend PTA dollars on technology? The answer is a resounding YES. Your local PTA is a membership association and a non-profit business. PTAs can budget for, and spend money on, any technology that will be used by the PTA. This year, PTAs across the country must pivot to the new reality of the business world during the COVID-19 pandemic. That means figuring out how to run your PTA either partially, or fully, virtual. This pivot will benefit your PTA well beyond the pandemic as well.

It is important to note that many of the below items have free and paid versions. You will need to look at your specific PTA needs to decide what product may work for you and if the free version is enough or if one of the paid versions is a better fit.  The items are linked so you can learn more about each, and remember, you can Google or YouTube just about anything online to find how-to videos.

Overall PTA Management Needs

  • G-Suite for Nonprofits— Looking for a little bit of everything? Offered by Google for free to non-profits, this is a suite of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products. You can upgrade for a small monthly fee as well. You can get Gmail accounts for your PTA and board members, online drive to store your PTA documents and photos, centralized calendar, Google Meet and other resources
  • Microsoft Office Online—Offers free online use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note
  • TechSoup—A non-profit international network that provides free or discounts on technological tools and support to non-profits.
  • Notion—An all-in-one workspace where you can share and work on the same content. Individual accounts are free and can be shared with up to five guests.

Virtual Gatherings

Planning on hosting a virtual meeting or event? There are many products out there to suit your needs, and some have free versions. Since this is the way your PTA will be doing business for quite some time, your PTA should invest in this expense. Each platform provides tips for setup for all the features, including screen sharing and login requirements. If you use a free version, you may be limited on the number of attendees and how long the event can run, so do your homework. Some of the platforms to look at are:

  • Zoom Meeting– The free plan allows up to 40 minutes per meeting with up to 100 participants. If you need more time, they have a $149 per year plan for unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants.
  • Facebook Live in a Private Group— Consider using this option for a board meeting! Make sure everyone on your board is on Facebook and in your private group.
  • Go to Meeting – $12 per month for up to 150 participants.
  • Google Meet– Free one-hour meetings up to 100 participants, more features if you have G-Suite
  • Skype Meet Now – Up to 50 people per meeting. Anyone can host or join with no need to download an app.
  • FreeConferenceCall.com– Up to 1,000 participants and up to six hours of conference call time, screen sharing and video.
  • WebEx – Can host one meeting free a month or look to upgrade to another option.

Survey and Poll Tools

Need to find out what your members and other families in your community need? Ask virtually!  See the links below for some online survey options.

  • Facebook Polls– This option offers instant feedback but is limited to people who follow your page or are in your closed group
  • Google Forms– Cloud-based questionnaire and survey software, can create reports of the survey responses.
  • SoGoSurvey– Free to non-profits
  • SurveyMonkey– The basic plan is free for up to 10 questions and 40 responses

Storytelling Tools

Showcase the value your PTA brings to the community by sharing #HowWePTA on social media, in your newsletters and more! These tools can help you create beautiful visuals to help tell your PTA story.

  • National PTA Membership Campaign—Check out the over 50 free graphics in the new PTA campaign that can help you highlight and share the benefits of being a part of your PTA.
  • Canva for Nonprofits—Use this easy graphic design platform to create social media graphics, posters and other visual content.
  • Need some free photos? Check out sites that offer many free photos: Getty Images, Shutterstock and iStock Photo.
  • Need to store and share files? Maybe Dropbox is just what you need. The basic version is free.

Other Online Tools and Resources

  • Another tool in your toolbox to help run your PTA virtually is BAND– PTA’s newest national sponsor. BAND can be a timely, modern, no-cost solution for PTAs that need to virtually coordinate activities and events and share information. BAND helps make it easier for parents, teachers and PTA members to stay connected and organized while embracing distance learning. PTAs can use the BAND app for scheduling, instant messaging, video calling and virtual meetings, conducting polls, managing signups, live streaming events, and other critical two-way communication features.
  • Need volunteers to sign-up to help? Try out SignUpGenius. Free option for nonprofits.
  • Need to randomly pick a winner virtually? Want to play a game virtually? Looking to create a word search? Check out Flippity, which is free, and offers all sorts of fun things you can create quickly and easily virtually.

Learn from Others

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Join the PTA Local Leaders Facebook group. Connect with over 6,000 other PTA leaders across the 54 State PTA Congresses. Click on the search icon to look for ideas on how to hold virtual meetings, virtual events or online fundraisers. Check out our other blogs on How to Make Joining PTA Easy, Ways to Make your PTA Virtual, Grow Spirit from Afar and National Volunteer Week blog which recognizes several local PTAs making things happen virtually.


Linda Johnson is the Manager of Membership Data and Training for National PTA.

National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service.

Show Your PTA Value to Sustain and Grow Your Membership

This school year will be a year like no other in PTA history. All of us must look at how we PTA in a different way. You may have heard the phrase “PTA flexible.” This is the year to show PTA flexible in action across everything we do. Just like schools have had to pivot, so do PTAs. You don’t need a building to PTA.

PTA is needed now more than ever. Many parents are feeling disconnected and disengaged from their school and community. PTAs can make those connections and rebuild the school community. To do this, PTAs must show their value and relevance in an all, or mostly, virtual setting. Together, we all must learn how to take in-person activities and adjust them to a virtual setting.

First, you need to have a platform to connect with people in a virtual space. There are many products out there, some have free versions. Since this is the way your PTA will be doing business for quite some time, your PTA should invest in this expense. PTAs can budget for, and spend money on, any technology that will be used by the PTA. Remember to look if any of them have a discount for being a non-profit. Some of the platforms to look at are Zoom, Go To Meeting, Google Meet and WebEx. Check nonprofit tech resources through Tech Soup.

Another tool in your toolbox to help run your PTA virtually is BAND—PTA’s newest national sponsor. BAND can be a timely, modern, no-cost solution for PTAs that need to virtually coordinate activities and events and share information. BAND helps make it easier for parents, teachers and PTA members to stay connected and organized while embracing distance learning. PTAs can use the BAND app for scheduling, instant messaging, video calling and virtual meetings, conducting polls, managing signups, live streaming events, and other critical two-way communication features.

After you determine your preferred platform, you need to find what will make your PTA valuable and relevant throughout the year to your community. Here are a ton of ideas, information and content to use and share with your members: to show your PTAs relevance and value.

Check out these recent blogs

Explore National PTA Resources and Training

  • The National PTA website is available in Spanish therefore many of the resources on the webpages can be translated into Spanish. Share this feature with your PTAs and in outreach to your Spanish-speaking membership.
  • There are some great PTA leader resources on the National PTA COVID webpage. If you scroll down on the page there are three sections of resources—Families, PTA Leaders and Educators. Local PTAs can share the resources with their members to show their relevance during this difficult time.
  • The Center for Family Engagement recently held a webinar called Family Engagement in a Virtual World. Here is a link the recording which is found on CFE
  • On that same page is a link to subscribe to the Notes from the Backpack which is a great resource your PTA can share with your members, parents and teachers.
  • We must move our membership campaigns into the virtual world. We are extremely lucky to have a new Membership Campaign that has incredible graphics and messaging for all PTAs to use in the new virtual world of PTA. Did you know that PTA is now a Verb? Check out all the 50+ social media graphics available. All are also available in Spanish. Based on feedback, we are also in the process of adding some new items pieces soon.
  • Encourage your local leaders to join the National PTA local leader Facebook group. People share all sorts of great things on the page.

Host Your PTA Programs Virtually!

  • Visit National PTA’s Reflections Start Your Program page for resources and ideas on how to run your PTA’s Reflections program remotely. Check with your State PTA for specific state guidelines, rules and deadlines.
  • Enroll in the National PTA School of Excellence program to align your COVID-19 relief efforts in best practice for family engagement while gaining national recognition. Enroll by October 1 at PTA.org/Excellence.

Stay Connected!

  • Sign up for National PTA e-newsletters. As a PTA leader, you can harvest information from the newsletters and share it with your members. Click here to sign up for one or all five e-newsletters.
  • Invite your members to bookmark National PTA’s Our Children Magazine; this a great online resource full of valuable information to help families to better help their children.
  • Check out your state PTA webpage as many of them also provide resources, programs and incentives for local PTAs. Not sure of your state’s PTA website? Here is an interactive map for you to quickly connect.
  • Several state PTAs hold virtual events where local leaders can call in and share what virtual events they are already doing or thinking about doing so people can learn and hear from each other. Check-in with your state PTA to see if they are offering something similar.

Not sure what your PTA members and community need?

  • Ask them. Click here to see a sample survey to get you inspired.
  • PTAs leaders do not need to reinvent the wheel or to be content experts in all areas. If you know the needs of the families in your community, reach out to other non-profits in your area that are already providing these needed services. These other non-profits may already have the funding to provide services in the community and are just waiting to make connections.
  • Show how PTA advocates. Help families in your community have a voice. Make sure to share surveys and links from your school or school district and encourage families to respond so their voice is heard. See if the school district as a spot at the table for a PTA representative so you can be part of the discussion and discussion making for your community.

Coming Soon

  • National PTA is currently working on a series of recordings and live Zoom events, around PTAs being virtual, which will include topics such as: creating a virtual membership campaign, running a virtual meeting, virtual fundraising, Making the Case for PTA, and more.
  • National PTA is currently working on moving several programs into the virtual space.
  • Look for the next round of National PTA grants to roll out in November 2020.
  • Be on the lookout for National PTA’s weekly series celebrating the work PTAs have been doing to support COVID relief in their community. Stories will be shared on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and in our e-newletters.

Suzan Yungner is the Director of Membership and Field Service for National PTA. 

National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service.

Growing Our Membership Every Month

Membership is a year-round effort.  It never ends.  As PTA ambassadors, leaders are to constantly promote the value of PTA, and with it, ignite interest in our mission for people to join in.  Our PTA voice is more powerful, and our PTA advocacy is stronger the more members we have.

 The new year is full of additional opportunities to invite everyone to join PTA this second half of the National PTA membership year (7/1-6/30.)  What are those opportunities?

  •  To begin with, all of your remaining meetings and activities in your PTA calendar for this year.
  • To continue, all National PTA programs and activities to celebrate Take Your Family to School Week (TYFTSW). Choose one of the National PTA program categories (Health & Safety, Literacy, Digital Learning, STEM) to plan your event and create a theme for your week.  On February 17, 2018, PTA celebrates 122 years of existence advocating to improve the education and well-being of all children.  At your Take Your Family to School Week activities, enthusiastically and confidently invite everyone in your community to “Be part of our PTA history and join our PTA.”
  • In March, take advantage of our PTA Family Reading Experience resources available at PTA.org/FRE to celebrate National Reading Month. This is a great opportunity to work with your local librarians to get families (adults and children) to visit their local public libraries, encourage them to sign up to obtain their library cards and borrow books to read at home. In the process, don’t forget to invite all families and community members to support similar PTA efforts by joining your PTA.
  • Our PTA Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit and the PTAKit.org guide for organizing a PTA Program are great resources to help you plan and celebrate national awareness on issues such as:

 These are only possible ideas for which multiple resources are already available.  In the end, all will depend on what the needs of your students and school community are, as PTA you want to be relevant.  If your families need to be empowered to help their children with test taking, that should be your focus at that time; look at our PTA resources on assessment and coordinate with your school administrators. Making our PTA mission relevant to your students and your community by responding to their needs should be the north that guides the focus of your work.

Just remember to always have a way of inviting all to support our PTA work with their PTA membership.  And then, share your work with your state congress PTA. They have multiple ways to recognize your membership and mission advancement efforts.  So, reach out to them, and share and celebrate your accomplishments with all of us for the benefit of all children.

Thank you for all you do to grow membership “To make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.”

Membership Matters: The Annual Report

Ending the year right is as important as getting it started right. One important and valuable step for wrapping up your PTA year is putting together and offering your members some type of Annual Report. This is an end-of-the-year report that sums up all of the great work your PTA has done and is a powerful resource to inspire support for your association.

Among other things, the Annual Report allows:

  • Everyone recruiting members to easily show what your PTA has done and what their membership will support.
  • Everyone who is or has been a member to see what their membership helped to support.
  • Everyone in your community to see what your PTA accomplished.
  • Your PTA to show appreciation for everyone who supported your initiatives with their attendance, volunteer work, support or sponsorships.
  • Your school to show how family engagement contributed to making a difference in your school community.

Putting an Annual Report together is not difficult. You may want to include the following:

  • The total number of members for the year.
  • The PTA mission-related activities/initiatives organized or sponsored by your PTA to support the students, the teachers, the families and/or the community—every group impacted by your work. List all your PTA did throughout the year:
    • to welcome all families
    • to promote two-way meaningful communication
    • to empower families to support their children’s academic achievement
    • to empower families to secure their child’s safety, well-being and best learning, social and emotional opportunities
    • to work alongside your school leaders to secure public funding and resources that support the best learning conditions in your school or community
    • to work collaboratively with the business, faith-based organizations and various other communities your school is part of?
  • A list of all activities organized or sponsored by your PTA that raised funds to support the mission-related activities or initiatives
  • A thank you section with:
    • A list of all volunteers who helped to make possible all activities or initiatives of the PTA.
    • A list of businesses, individuals and/or organizations who supported the work of your PTA.
  • Other special accomplishments of your PTA.

Your annual report document doesn’t need to be wordy. Just a reflection of all the work that you did. I’ve seen annual reports in the form of a written document. I’ve seen annual reports in the form of fun videos with pictures of all the activities the PTA organized throughout the year. Because of this exercise, you may discover your PTA is already doing the work of a National PTA School of Excellence and would only need to register and complete the application process to be recognized.

Distributing your Annual Report via a short message with an attachment or a link to a simple PDF or video shared via social media channels or text is also a great way to inspire your members to renew their membership and to continue to support PTA. We can’t wait to see your annual reports!

Need some help? Check out these resources:

Thank you so much for all you do to advance the PTA mission for all children.


Ivelisse Castro is a national service representative for National PTA.

Membership Matters: Focus on the Mission

FastCompany recently published an article asking, “Which brands inspire consumers the most with their missions?” The article, written by Adele Peters, reports on an annual survey called the World Value Index. The World Value Index evaluates companies, nonprofits and some social movements that have come to be identified as brands–and studies how well their purpose or mission succeeds in inspiring consumers. Do you think your community knows the PTA mission by your activities and actions?

“To make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.”

Enso, which published a list of the top 10 brands on the World Value Index, identified two questions that you can ask yourselves and your board to improve your community’s awareness of the PTA mission:

  1. Are we inspiring our parents to use their power to support the mission?
  2. What could we be doing more of to inspire and engage people in our purpose and create more value?

Take some time this summer to answer these questions with your board.

This past year, National PTA served 16.5 million children out of the 50 plus million children in the USA. Out of all PTAs, more than half—55%—are in Title 1 schools. A recent PTA study asked parents if they believed that their local PTA lived up to the mission. The response was eye-opening as many participants were unaware of the mission.

Once they heard the mission, they felt that ours is a cause that they could support.

We have a great deal more work to do to secure our children’s future. You are our grassroots ambassadors and we need you to live the mission. PTA is about advocacy, family engagement and student success.

As PTA, we believe in speaking up for all children and our members lend their support on all advocacy efforts both federally and statewide. PTA is the oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy association and has been for the past 120 years. And we’re not slowing down. Over the last year, National PTA endorsed 17 bills and sent over 70 letters to Congress to advocate on behalf of children and families.

We know that parents first want information to help them raise their children. Please take a few minutes to check out the PTA website, where you can find a wide variety of information under the Family Resources tab, such as our parent guides, health, safety and special education information. Or, feel free to share the Our Children Online Magazine, which offers more general parenting advice. As PTA members, you can take those resources and deliver them to your community.

Family engagement resources and activities can be found on our website as well.  The School of Excellence program embodies the values of PTA—school and community improvement through effective family engagement—and can bring the home and school closer together.  The program provides a roadmap on how to implement change in your school. Enrollment starts now and ends Oct. 1, 2018.

National PTA also offers grants for other activities, including arts education and STEM programs. It is important to check the PTA website often.

As you plan for your year ahead, take a hard look at our PTA mission and plan activities that promote student success and family engagement. Our education systems and schools are facing difficult issues such as school safety and budget cuts—so get involved. We need YOU.

Thank you for all that do in the name of PTA for families, children and educators each and every day.


Mary Jo Neil is a national service representative for National PTA.

Join the First-Timers Experience at National PTA Convention!

Are you a PTA mission believer and achiever? A PTA leader of leaders? An advocate who wants better for our students and schools nationwide? Then we’ll see you at 2018 National PTA Convention & Expo June 21-24 in beautiful and historic New Orleans, La.

In true New Orleans hospitality, we will welcome our first-time attendees with extra kindness. We will show you how to navigate National PTA’s largest and most comprehensive leadership development experience while making the networking easy for you!

Here are your three FIRST steps to making sure this is your best PTA decision ever:

  1. Come to the First-Timers’ Boot Camp. Join the Convention General Arrangements Committee and other first-time attendees at this must-attend event designed just for you on Thursday, June 22 at 1:15 p.m. in Room 235/236. Walk in knowing who you came with and walk out knowing at least five new friends. You’ll hear about the business, special events and learning experiences at Convention, and then your National PTA First-Timer Friend will help you design a plan for workshops and networking experiences that will match your goals for the weekend. Finally, you will take a tour of important locations like the workshop rooms and General Meetings. Leave this workshop feeling oriented, confident and connected.

 

  1. Meet back up with your First-Timer Friends for an Expo Hall tour and #PTAProud team-building experience. Your National PTA First-Timer Friend will give you a special invitation to explore an Expo Hall tour designed just for you. Meet National PTA’s sponsors, connect with National PTA Board Members in the PTA Booth, and then head over for a fun #PTAProud Team-Building Experience. Enjoy a fast-paced icebreaker with your new friends and then take a group selfie at our #PTAProud Wall. Leave this experience with a #PTAProud Recipe for Teamwork that you can take home and facilitate your own PTA team-building experiences!

 

  1. Pack a sweater—even though the average temperature in New Orleans is 90. Trust us. Every Convention Center looks a little different but offers the same chilly relief from blazing summer heat. So, bring a sweater or jacket that will help your mind to stay focused on all the possibilities National PTA’s Convention has to offer!

If this is your first time at National PTA’s Convention & Expo, get the VIP treatment—join the First-Timers Experience!

Didn’t register yet? There’s still time. Visit PTA.org/Convention to register today.


Mary Pat King is the director of education and leadership development at National PTA.

Membership Matters: Reevaluating at the End of the School Year

It’s hard to believe, but the school year will be over in just a few short months. Right now is the perfect time to take a step back and evaluate the impact that your PTA has had on your community over the past year. Have you created a welcoming environment for parents, teachers and community members? If you feel that you may have missed the mark or would like to try some new things, now is the time to try out some new tactics.

In a recent article in FastCompany titled, “The Best Brands Are The Ones That Build ‘Belonging’,” enso co-founder Sebastian Buck explains that most people today essentially live in social isolation. This means that despite the fact that we communicate more than ever—with the advent of social media, texting and emailing—these means of communication are impersonal, and we end up feeling more alone than ever before.

Buck cites several disheartening statistics to back up his point, including the following: 40% of Americans report feeling chronically lonely and only half of the population trust their neighbors. It seems that we have lost the ability to spontaneously begin the meaningful, in-person conversations that build relationships and communities. But PTA just may be the perfect solution.

Association trends show that individuals want to join groups to belong. Here is an opportunity for PTAs to create a strong community where families, teachers and the community can interact and connect with one another. From these interactions, your community will develop trust and empathy toward each other as well as learn about each other’s similarities and differences.

So before the school year ends, ask yourself and your fellow PTA members the following:

  • What can you do to build these relationships?
  • Have you considered having an icebreaker at the start of your general meetings—something to get folks talking to people that they would not otherwise reach out to?
  • Could you do some large team building activities to get the community involved?

At a recent training, we did an exercise where individuals walked around and greeted each other. The concept was simply to say hello; however, the activity went to a new level and participants ended up hugging each other.

Another idea that we played with was to thank people for coming to a training session by saying “thank you” in some fashion. I observed participants giving each other high fives and hugging each other. Could you imagine how your members would feel if you ended your meeting or training session in this manner?

The last few months of the school year provide you with the chance to try something new and to build stronger relationships with your members. Give it a try, who knows what kind of connections you might make!

Mary Jo Neil is a National Service Representative at National PTA.

How will your PTA change the lives of children in 2018?

The school-year kick-off is past and holiday craziness is on the horizon. Right now it’s time to grab a pumpkin spice latte, sit back and take stock.

Did the membership year start off with a bang? Maybe a mid-year drive is in order. Plan to start right after the holidays when potential members refocus on school. What value has your PTA already delivered? What value do you plan to deliver in 2018? Call attention to your success and ask for support for the future. Position membership in your PTA as a way to support students and PTA.  Ask people to join a successful movement to improve your school community.  People want to be part of successful teams. They want to know that their dues dollars have impact. Tie PTA membership with positive results.

Will your PTA meet its goals? Now is a good time to acknowledge successes and plan next steps. No goals? It’s not too late. Gather the board and decide what can be accomplished in 2018. Focus on empowering families to support student success.  Find a community agency or organization to partner in hosting a family event. Research your school’s goals and brainstorm ways to align PTA’s efforts to achieve goals together. Concentrate on making an impact and providing value to your community.

Are a few overworked volunteers trying to do the work of many? Consider how you ask for help: “Come be part of our success” vs. “We need people” and “400 children and family members had a blast in 2017. We’re aiming at 500 this year. Help us build an even better 2018 Spring Fair” vs. “We need volunteers for the Spring Fair.” Tie volunteer opportunities to outcomes, tell people they will be part of successful events, and help volunteers feel their volunteer hours have an impact. Break down opportunities into small jobs and find ways people can help from home or with their families—look for ways to help people say, “Yes” to the opportunity.

Candy canes will soon replace candy corn and PTA thoughts will take second place to planning family gatherings and holiday celebrations. Now is the time to make plans to jump start the New Year. How will your PTA change the lives of children in 2018?

Deborah Walsh is a National PTA Service Manager. 

Not Your Momma’s PTA

This is my first year in any kind of Parent Teacher Association (PTA). In years past I would see the slips come home to sign up for the PTA and they would get tossed in the trash. In my head I had this idea of what the PTA was and I definitely didn’t fit into that mold: I’m not a stay at home mom and able to go to every function. I’m BUSY!

As I went to register my son for 3rd grade this year as with the previous years I tried to avoid eye contact with the moms manning the PTA table. They, however, had a different idea. They were raffling off prizes for the people who signed up at registration, which caught my son’s eye. As he dragged me over to the PTA table, there was a woman sitting there with a huge smile on her face who greeted us and started talking about the “new” direction of Florence Community PTA. I listened and was interested but didn’t sign up. I knew that I wanted to help the kids of our community because I could see that not every child was as fortunate as my child.  Fast forward to the first PTA meeting of the year, on of my mom friends convinced me to attend my first PTA meeting…and I knew I had to go because she was much busier than me!  I walked into the meeting expecting the stereotypical PTA with the home baked cookies and 50s styled dresses, but what I got was the polar opposite.

That woman from the PTA table at registration was bouncing around the room greeting people as they walked in with that same huge smile she had during the raffle. As the meeting was called to order I quickly realized that that woman was the PTA president. She shared her passion to make the PTA a champion for the kids. There was something about her passion that helped inspire the group – myself included. There were a few topics being discussed that I chimed in on and after the meeting our president came and talked to me for a few minutes about a couple of projects. In those few minutes I learned more about what the PTA was really about than I could have ever have imagined. This group of individuals were some of the most genuine people I had ever met and were nothing like I had previously imagined the PTA to be. During that meeting, the changed how I saw the PTA. It was clear that they were kind, loving and supportive of one another.

As time went on I became more and more involved with PTA projects. Due to a situation that had happened with my son coming home without his coat several times, I organized a coat drive through my employer to donate all the coats through the PTA. A couple of weeks prior to the meeting where the coats would be presented to the PTA, the president and I ran into each other while volunteering at the school. She told me that there was a need for a new secretary as the current one would be resigning. She told me that she loved my passion for the kids and my desire to make sure no child went without care and attention. She also told me to think about throwing my hat in the ring. I went home and thought about how the PTA could change the lives of kids in our community and came to that next meeting with an overwhelming since of belonging. I knew that I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

I have now coined the phrase that Florence Community PTA is “Not your Momma’s PTA”. We do so much more than sit around, talk and bake cookies despite the stereotypes that exist. This group of men and women have done so much to bring the families and community together to rally around our children. I am now proud to say I am a member of Florence Community PTA.

This blog was submitted by Sarah Nunez, a local leader at Florence Community PTA.

The Value of a PTA Volunteer

This blog was originally posted on The Voice of NYS PTA.

I recently attended the Fall Luncheon in the Westchester-East Putnam Region and had the good fortune to hear the keynote speech delivered by Alisa Kesten, Executive Director of Volunteer New York. The mission of the organization is to inspire, mobilize and equip individuals and groups to take positive action to address pressing challenges, support nonprofits and strengthen the quality of life in the community.

Alisa specifically wanted to impress upon those present, the value of serving as a volunteer in the PTA. I would like to share an excerpt of her remarks:

I conducted a very unscientific Facebook poll hoping to illustrate the personal and professional growth each of you can and should expect as a direct result of your volunteer service for your PTA.

I asked my Facebook friends to give a one word answer to this question: Did you ever belong to a PTA? Then I sat back to see who said yes, because I know my friends. I know how active they are at work and in the community. I know their skills, and I suspected that there would be a strong correlation between those who are or had been deeply involved in PTA and their subsequent achievement. I wanted to illustrate how every friend who answered YES had developed a variety of skills – project management, communications, advocacy, financial management, event planning, negotiating, fundraising and more – all honed as PTA volunteers which so many of us have used those skills for positive achievement.

A few of the responses included the following:

  • Some were always attorneys but now have a different specialty as a result of their involvement in schools.
  • Some had been elected to PTA leadership positions. Now many have been elected to school boards, county legislatures, and I know that Congresswoman Nita Lowey always references her PTA roots in giving her the foundation to run for Congress.
  • Many gained confidence in speaking out at public budget hearings or in leading meetings. Now they are at the forefront of issues they care about, with well-practiced communications skills.
  • There was a group who had left the workforce to raise children. But they always volunteered for PTA. Now they are restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, and small business owners whose clients or vendors may have first learned of their talent and character by serving side by side on a PTA committee.
  • So many are now Executive Directors of nonprofits, like me, or program directors or finance directors at nonprofits and foundations. We’ve taken so many hands-on experiences of leadership from PTA along with us every step of the way.
  • PTA members – former and current – are in large corporations and very comfortable in navigating deadlines, personalities, budgets and more because we navigated deadlines, personalities, budgets and more through PTA.
  • And a ton of us continue to volunteer and give back to nonprofits whose missions matter to us and the community.

So thank you for the time you give, the meetings you run, the funds you raise, the events you plan, the letters you write, the e-newsletters you create, the actions you take – but know that you are building a toolbox of experiences that you WILL take with you. Those experiences can help open doors, climb ladders, and be successful in whatever way you choose to define success.

Alisa’s comments are timely as there has been quite a bit of chatter with regard to a recent Facebook post by Lean In. Their post declared that by listing as a credential “member of PTA” on one’s resume, a woman was 79% less likely to be hired. This shocking statement should surely compel us to immediately amend our resumes and make the appropriate changes on our LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter sites.

Wait! Not so fast! The Lean In post was based on an article written in 2007 based on questionable research from 2001. If in fact someone with an agenda commissioned a survey 15 years ago to accomplish some unknown purpose, it probably wasn’t accurate then and certainly isn’t relevant today.

In fact, the actual opinions of the real people follow Lean In’s bold statement. Scroll down and the truth is embedded in the comments. The life experiences reflected by the comment section paint a different picture! PTA provides the opportunity to hone and widen the scope of one’s skills by working alongside men and women from all walks of life representing nearly every profession. The transferable skills an individual develops as a PTA member working for child advocacy are enumerated and extolled within the vast majority of comments made on Lean In’s Facebook post.

Take heart! PTA is well worth your time. Be proud! Hiring managers can use people that have strong skills and won’t be put off because you care about your family. Employers that would turn away a qualified candidate because they also possess strong family values are not the norm.

Remember not to let the words of uninformed individuals with an unknown agenda minimize in any way the great work and experience gained by being a member of PTA – your efforts ensure a better future for our greatest resource – OUR CHILDREN. Because of the hard work and advocacy efforts of PTA volunteers and members, there are seat belts on school buses, kindergarten in public schools, a federal school lunch program, strengthened child labor laws, and a ban on corporal punishment. These are just a few of the many accomplishments.

Gracemarie Rozea is the president of New York State PTA.