Supporting Our Children to Find Their Passion, Purpose, and Voice

After being back in school for only a week, my 6th grade son came home and confidently announced “I signed up for track.” He beamed. And I felt a gush of relief that we sent him back to school in-person and opened up the doors to this new level of confidence and decision-making. 

New research released by Learning Heroes, delves into the power that afterschool, extracurricular and summer learning programs have in the lives of children. The research included deep listening among more than 2,000 K-8 parents and 1,000 K-8 teachers and out-of-school time (OST) providers nationally, between November 2020 and March of this year. Among the families surveyed, 65% enroll their children in one or more programs. Nearly half of those participate in a program focused on sports, the arts, or other interest-based activities. There are lots of ways to spend our family’s time and energy, but a clear majority see the value these opportunities offer our children, now and into the future. 

The good news is teachers and providers share parents’ enthusiasm for these programs and the positive effects they have on students–both in and out of school. In focus groups, teachers repeatedly shared that children who participate in activities outside of school are more successful in school. And this makes sense, because even if my son doesn’t win a single race, just signing up, showing up, and getting sweaty at every practice exercises safe and healthy risk taking. In the classroom, this translates to a willingness to take academic risks, like struggling through a tough algebra problem or making a mistake on an assignment and trying again. Along the way, he’ll learn teamwork, leadership and perseverance–all skills that parents, teachers, and providers agree are reinforced by participation in these programs.

What drives parents to sign their children up for out-of school-time programs? Learning Heroes found that parents see extracurriculars as their child’s own unique space where they can explore and cultivate their interests. These programs are distinct from school–where kids are one among many and everyone generally swims in their grade level ‘lane.’ 

Equally important is that out-of-school and summer learning activities expose kids to a range of important experiences they just can’t get at home. While there are lots of things I can offer my son–like our cherished time reading aloud before going to bed at night–I don’t need to become his track coach, too. Giving him that space to grow and find out what he loves–and even what he doesn’t–sends a powerful message: This is your time and space to be your unique self. The skills and lessons learned, the wins–and even the losses–are yours to keep as part of your life journey.

Unfortunately, Learning Heroes found that access to these programs is not equitably distributed. Families whose children are enrolled in OST activities report a higher socio-economic status and education level, regardless of race or ethnicity, than those who don’t send their children to any programs. So while I’m grateful my son’s middle school offered an array of virtual clubs this year, I wonder whether enriching opportunities like these are reaching all of the kids in our community who would benefit from them. Indeed, our school’s PTA could be a helpful messenger in getting the word out to families through our communication channels. And we can raise the equity question with our school leaders to understand what strategies they are taking to engage kids whose families might not be easily reached through traditional methods, like email and newsletters.

As we dream and make plans for what’s ahead this summer and beyond for our children, it’s a moment for us as parents to think about the program, camp or after-school activity that helped shape who we are today. I might even dust off a few memories from my track running days to share with my son as we support him to find his passion, purpose and voice.


Learn more at BeALearningHero.org or connect with us on social media @BeALearninghero.

State, District, Council and Region PTAs…Know Your Data to Grow Membership

By Linda Johnson and Kirthana Krishnathasan

Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. Taking a deep dive into your state, district, council and/or region membership data beyond the overall total membership numbers gives you the power to make informed decisions to maximize your financial and people resources to reach your goals to grow membership.

Reviewing your data can help you:

  • find local PTA success stories, so you can learn and share strategies across your association to help all PTAs be successful.
  • see PTAs that are struggling, even if they do not reach out for help, so that you can provide needed support before they stop reporting membership.
  • identify geographic, district, council, or region areas with declining membership so you can provide targeted solutions and strategies where they are needed most.

Membership is all year long so reviewing membership data should be done several times a year. Membership status, goals and strategies should be reviewed and discussed at every board/committee meeting and at every level: state, district, council, and region.

National PTA has membership reports that can be used to help state, district, council, and region leaders look beyond the current membership numbers for the stories in your data. Current State PTA leaders can access and download these reports in the State Portal. Ask your state if you do not have direct access to the state specific reports for your state.

The Membership Reporting Year-Over-Year (YOY) by Fiscal Year report provides fiscal year-end membership totals for all local PTAs since 2014 as well as the current fiscal year reporting through the date you download the report. This report is updated monthly as the state reports local membership.

The data in this report can be used to identify the following membership trends:

YOY gain: Identify PTAs that have significant single year or multi-year growth. Are there common stories of training, leadership, or support that can be shared?

YOY loss: Identify PTAs that have greater than 20% single year loss or consistent membership loss across several years. Have leaders at these PTAs attended training? Has there been leadership turnover? Do PTA leaders have good relationships with school staff? Do they know how to effectively engage their community?

Zero reporting PTAs: Identify PTAs that did not report membership in the current year but were reporting in the previous membership year. What has caused these PTAs to stop reporting?

Active PTAs with 2 or more years of zero reporting: Identify active PTAs without membership for 2 or more years. Verify if the PTA is still functioning. Determine if there has been leadership turnover or no current leadership is in place. 

Geographic Trends:  After you identify the above trends in your data, sort the information by city.  Are there specific areas with more growth? What training or support is happening in these areas that can be used to replicate growth in other areas?

How can my State/District/Council/Region PTA support local PTAs?

PTAs are membership associations. Membership is not just a transaction; it is all about relationships. Sending email reminders to a PTA to send in compliance requirements is not a relationship. Most people join PTA at a local PTA, so build personal relationships with local leaders, NOT just the president and help them build relationships with the members in their community.

  • Connect with PTAs that are growing membership, congratulate them and find out how they are being successful. Collect the strategies and stories on how they grew membership. Would these PTA leaders consider mentoring another leader in their area or participating in a training to share the ideas and strategies that helped them grow?
  • Make targeted personal outreach to PTAs that have had year over year loss based on their data. Make phone calls, send texts, or message them through social media to find out how they are doing personally and as a PTA leader. What do they need to develop their leadership skills or help them run their PTA?
  • Don’t wait, contact PTAs that miss your first required membership reporting deadline. Make sure they know how to report membership. Find out if they need additional support. Do not wait for a whole year of zero reporting before making contact and offering support.
  • Provide additional training based on the feedback you receive during your outreach calls.

Training, Resources, Reporting, and Policies

Local PTAs are faced with a lot of rules: IRS policies, state nonprofit laws, school district policies, and PTA unit in good standing or standards of affiliation requirements. There can be a lot of volunteer turnover, so how do your make sure new leaders get the training they need to be successful? Review and align your policies and procedures to help local PTAs be successful and grow membership.

  • Training: Is leadership training required? Keep a record of which leaders attend training from each PTA to verify all PTAs have received training. Make sure new leaders are trained on how and when to report membership, how to engage members and share the value of PTA. Provide training based on the skills needed for different roles in PTA. Provide multiple opportunities throughout the year to receive training. (in-person, virtual, e-learning, etc.)
  • Resources: Direct local leaders to membership resources available to them from district, council, region, state and National PTA so they do not have to reinvent the wheel (Local Leader Kit, E-learning, DIY Kit for Membership Growth, etc.).
  • Reporting: Do you require minimum membership reporting for a PTA to be in good standing? Is reporting required every month or at specified dates? Do you have a membership platform PTAs are required to use? Does zero reporting trigger outreach and support?
  • Policies: Review state policies on how long PTAs are allowed to report zero before they are moved to inactive, or their charter is removed.

Anyone (large-petite states, district, council or region, staff, or volunteer) can use data to help identify next steps in your membership growth plan. How your data analysis is utilized to inform decision-making can have transformational changes to your membership.

Start by doing just one thing. What is one thing can you do in the next two months? 

If you want or need help looking at your data or need more ideas for next steps, reach out to membership@pta.org

New Tools to Advance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

National PTA is committed to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) but what does that look like in action? To answer that question, we partnered with 14 local units to test out new DEI strategies which led to the development of three new tools, the Diversity Profile, the Facilitator’s Guide, and the Action Plan Template. If you’ve already reviewed the Local Leader Guidance for DEI and are wondering what next steps you should take, read on to explore our latest tools! 

Diversity Profile 

Who lives in your community? This may seem like a simple question, but answering it well requires an in depth understanding of the families at your school. Our Diversity Profile Template will walk you through important demographic questions about your community. Questions like: what religions are represented? What is the racial demographic breakdown of your community? What is the median household income?  

After finding out that information, challenge yourself to think critically: Does your PTA board and membership reflect your community? 

Facilitator’s Guide 

If you notice that there are voices missing, it is time to figure out why. How can you create a more inviting PTA that offers leadership opportunities that draw in all members of your community? Our Enhancing DEI Facilitator’s Guide offers step by step instructions for hosting a listening session where you can learn more about how families want to engage with the school and the PTA. The guide includes a meeting agenda complete with questions you can ask families to better understand their experiences and reimagine your PTA in ways that better meet everyone’s needs. Most of all, these conversations are opportunities for intentional relationship building with families who you may not typically interact with! 

One of the grantees shared that their use of the facilitator’s guide really made an impact: “Even though we needed to conduct our listening sessions on Zoom in order to be COVID-safe, our virtual introductions to new-to-PTA parents are already starting to blossom into real-life relationships now that our school has reopened.” 

Action Plan 

Listening is an important first step, but you can’t stop there. After you listen to families, the real work begins. How will you address their concerns, answer their questions, implement their ideas?  

Another grantee shared their own DEI goals, “The first thing we want to do is have a workshop for new PTSA leadership and committee chairs (and anyone else interested) on culturally responsive skills. We want to improve outreach and communication and be sure that our meeting agendas speak to issues that are relevant to all families and that our meetings are conducted in ways that are inclusive.” 

Our Enhancing DEI Action Plan Template provides a structure for you and your board to plan next steps like these. Remember to keep families in the loop as you continue your planning! The action plan is a great way to re-engage the families you listened to. Ask them to weigh in on the draft and make additions or edits. These new strategies and initiatives will be most successful if they are co-created by the PTA board and the rest of your community! 

For more guidance on how your PTA can use these tools, watch our webinar, ”Turning Your Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion into Action” and keep up with our latest resources at www.pta.org/diversity!  

#WalkWithMe: Join the movement to build more inclusive, welcoming neighborhoods

Photo Caption: Post on Nextdoor to invite your neighbors to walk in unity

PTA members know that change starts in the neighborhood, and Nextdoor is a place to connect with neighbors from all backgrounds. In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, one very hopeful trend has emerged—neighbors are coming together to walk in solidarity in hopes of creating more inclusive, welcoming communities.

The trend originated with Shawn, a 30-year-old Black man who has lived in and loved his Nashville, Tenn., neighborhood his entire life. Following the murder of George Floyd last year, he posted on Nextdoor to share that he no longer felt comfortable walking in his neighborhood. In response, hundreds of neighbors commented to show their support, reflect on how to create a more welcoming environment, and ultimately come out to walk alongside him. Shawn shared, “I was scared to walk alone and now look who is behind me. Look who has my back.” Countless other neighbors across the country followed in Shawn’s footsteps to start a nationwide movement.

During this time of social isolation, neighbors around the world have found new and unique ways to come together and unite around causes they care about. Nextdoor instantly connects you with everyone nearby, providing a great opportunity to spark a conversation and build real-world connections. There are endless reasons to join the #WalkWithMe movement:

  • With the devastating rise in violence and hateful rhetoric towards Black and Asian-American neighbors, take inspiration from Shawn and join a walk for racial justice and equity.
  • Knowing just six neighbors can reduce loneliness and have drastic health benefits, and a recent study found that most new friendships are made in your own neighborhood. Post #WalkWithMe to meet new people while staying outside and socially-distant.
  • Even the smallest acts of kindness can establish a sense of security and boost your neighborhood unity. Become an active participant in your neighborhood and invite others to explore with you. Whether you walk, skate, roll in a wheelchair, or cheer from the sidelines, everyone has a chance to get involved.
  • Use #WalkWithMe as an opportunity to get outside and get active as we head into summer—neighbors can be the best accountability partners.

By bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Post on Nextdoor with #WalkWithMe to share your experience and invite your neighbors to walk.


Nextdoor is the app where you plug into the neighborhoods that matter to you. Our purpose is to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Neighbors turn to Nextdoor daily to receive trusted information, give and get help, and build real-world connections with those nearby—neighbors, local businesses and public agencies.

Be SMART Reduces Unintentional Shootings and Suicides

The past year has brought extreme changes and challenges to our children, families, schools and communities. It has been stressful, difficult and even scary.

While we have grappled with the effects of COVID-19, we have also seen the reports about 2020 being a deadly year for gun violence and 2021 continuing in the same pattern. These stories, coupled with the rise in gun sales (many to first time gun owners), are troubling even before you consider the recent research showing that unintentional shootings by children have also increased during the pandemic.

In my own state, we have seen a devastating uptick in gun suicides by young people. In fact, in January 2021 the Clark County School District—the largest in Nevada and the fifth largest in the U.S.—announced it would begin the process of reopening schools due in part to a surge in youth suicides in the area.

As a volunteer leader with Moms Demand Action in Nevada and a member of the Board of Directors for National PTA, I am deeply concerned about gun suicides and unintentional shootings. But I also worry about what might happen when all children return to school full-time. We know that unsecured firearms also fuel gun violence outside the home. In incidents of gun violence on school grounds, up to 80% of shooters under the age of 18 obtained their guns from their own home, a relative’s home, or a friend’s home.

According to the #NotAnAccident Index, which has tracked unintentional shootings by children since 2015, nearly 350 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else each year—equaling almost one unintentional shooting per day. Another 700 children die by gun suicide each year, most often using guns belonging to a family member.

There is a simple way to reduce these shootings. Research shows that keeping firearms locked, unloaded and separated from ammunition can save lives—especially the lives of those taken by unintentional shootings and gun suicides. In fact, a 2019 study estimated that if half of all households with children switched from leaving their guns unlocked to keeping them locked and securely stored, one-third of youth gun suicides and unintentional deaths could be prevented—saving an estimated 251 lives in a single year.

So how do we begin? Following the Be SMART program is a good first step. Developed by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, the Be SMART program helps parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries. National PTA was on board from the start, and continues to support the program’s success.

The program encourages parents and adults to:

  • Secure all guns in their home and vehicles
  • Model responsible behavior around guns
  • Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
  • Recognize the role of guns in suicide
  • Tell their peers to be SMART

In the last five years, Be SMART has served as a model for parents, schools and PTAs across the country to educate parents and adults on how to keep their children and families safe from gun violence.

As gun violence continues to be one of the leading causes of death for children and teens, we must do everything we can to keep our families, communities, schools and children safe from this public health crisis. And we must work together. Join the fight by getting involved with Moms Demand Action and PTA.


Alison Turner is a National PTA Board Member, Nevada PTA Vice-President for Advocacy, and a volunteer leader with Moms Demand Action in Nevada.

4 End of School Year Tips for Parents

Practice healthy habits to help your student end the year on a high note!

April showers have slowly but surely given way to May flowers, which means the end of the school year is fast approaching. It’s been an abnormal school year—to say the least—and Lysol and National PTA want to help all families end the year strong to begin their summer vacations on a high note!

Keep the following tips in mind to help make the end of the school year enjoyable until the last bell rings:

  • Stay positive: There have been a lot of challenging moments over the past year for both parents and students. Applaud your student for all they have done to make the most of modified learning and encourage them to finish strong on any last projects or tests.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: Bring homework outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather! After so much time indoors, studying outdoors can be a positive change of scenery. Welcome homework breaks as well. A quick trip to the park can help your student burn off some of that lingering restlessness and soak up the beautiful sunshine (with SPF, of course).
  • Refresh your gear: Notebooks are filled out and pencil erasers are dull by the end of the school year. It is important that your children still have the right tools to do their best work at the finish line. If necessary, refresh your children’s supplies to help them put forth their best efforts at the end of the year.
  • Encourage your schools to use Welcome Back Packs: Encourage your school to use Lysol’s Welcome Back Packs to provide healthy habit reminders during the last few weeks of school! Welcome Back Packs are available for educators nationwide to download and print. They include fun and educational resources such as informative posters, fun activities, useful stickers templates, and engaging lesson plans that encourage healthy habits such as handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks.

For more information on healthy habits and to download the Welcome Back Packs, please visit Lysol.com/HERE.

Science Is Leading the Way to Reopen Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented immense and immediate challenges for schools across the country. Seemingly overnight, teachers and administrators had to rework their curriculum, shift to online learning, and find ways to engage students of all ages from behind a screen. At the same time, students and parents worked to quickly acclimate to the virtual environment, juggling jobs, school and childcare—all during a global pandemic.

As a mother of three boys, I experienced these challenges and stresses in my own family. My son’s high school held a “back to school night” right after I was nominated to be CDC Director. I heard—as a mother and as the Director—about the difficulties of engaging students on Zoom. Like many of you, I did my best to keep my kids safe while juggling work and other responsibilities.

From the beginning of my tenure as CDC Director, one of the top priorities for the agency has been getting students back into the classroom safely. The science tells us that in addition to education, in-person learning gives our children access to the vital social and mental health services that prepare them for success in our world. That is why CDC strongly believes schools should be the last place to close and the first place to open, to ensure no child goes without these essential services.

We know that students from low-resourced communities, students from ethnic and racial minority communities, and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the loss of in-person instruction. By following the science and engaging with our partners, CDC has worked to develop guidance and resources to ensure that every student can learn in the classroom safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Science Is Leading the Way

Science is leading the way in how we respond to COVID-19, including how to get our children back into classrooms during the pandemic—while prioritizing the safety of students, teachers and school staff. Before developing guidance to safely reopen schools, CDC conducted an in-depth review of all the available data and engaged with educational and public health partners to hear first-hand from parents and educators about their experiences and concerns.

I have personally heard the concerns expressed by both parents and school leaders, which ranged from concerns about potentially lost academic progress, to anxiety about personal and family safety if returning to in-person instruction. These discussions, in combination with the latest science, provided the data we needed to develop a strategy for students to safely return to schools in different parts of the country, with varying classroom sizes and resources.

Guidelines for Reopening K-12 Schools

In February, we released the K-12 Operational Strategy for in-person instruction based on evidence that showed K-12 schools could operate safely for in-person instruction if they use layered prevention strategies. Prevention strategies that are layered, or used together, provide the greatest protection against transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC Strategy encourages students, faculty, and staff in school settings to practice prevention behaviors by following these 5 key mitigation strategies:

  1. Universal and correct mask-wearing
  2. Physical distancing
  3. Hand washing and good respiratory etiquette
  4. Cleaning to maintain healthy facilities
  5. Diagnostic testing with rapid and efficient contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine, and collaboration with local health departments

In addition, when CDC released the K-12 Operational Strategy, we noted that the science of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and we would update our recommendations when new evidence became available. As more studies were published and CDC scientists analyzed the available evidence on physical distancing, it was clear there was ample evidence to update CDC’s recommendations for physical distancing between students in classrooms with universal mask use.

Based on evolving evidence, last week, CDC issued its updated guidance for physical distancing with recommendations for various settings of K-12 education.

  • Elementary schools: Students should remain at least three feet apart in classrooms while wearing a mask, regardless of the level of COVID-19 spread in the community.
  • Middle and high schools: Students should remain at least three feet apart in classrooms while wearing a mask, when community spread of COVID-19 is low, moderate or substantial.
  • For middle and high schools in communities with high spread of COVID19: Students should remain at least six feet apart, unless cohorting is possible.
  • Community settings outside the classroom or in any situation when unmasked: Everyone should maintain at least six feet apart.

A Shared Effort

Getting our children back to school for in-person instruction is a critical step in turning the corner on this pandemic, and partnerships with key stakeholders in education, government and the community are helping schools make this transition. CDC is providing guidance, tools and resources to our educational and public health partners and collaborating through webinars, conferences and other engagements to increase understanding of the operational strategy for K-12 schools and to support schools as they integrate CDC’s recommendations into their schools’ planning.

CDC also recently announced it was providing $10 billion to support COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing for teachers, staff and students. In addition, CDC’s K-12 Operational Strategy identifies vaccination as an additional layer of prevention that can be added to the five key mitigation strategies. CDC has been working with our federal retail pharmacy partners to prioritize the vaccination of K-12 teachers, staff and childcare workers during the month of March. I am happy to report that our pharmacy partners have vaccinated more than 1.3 million educators, staff, and childcare workers so far, and more than 550,000 of these vaccinations were in the last week alone.  

Last week, at the National Summit on Safe School Reopening, I was able to connect virtually with representatives from the Department of Education and other government and non-governmental organizations to hear from school districts across the country about their challenges and successes in reopening. I was so encouraged to hear about their efforts and the innovations they are implementing in order to get kids back to in-person learning.

Real-World Experience, Science, and Evidence

My youngest son returned to hybrid school about a month ago, and he’s thrilled to be back. While I know many students are also looking forward to joining their peers in a classroom setting, I realize that the decision to have your child return to in-person learning is not an easy one. My hope for the future is based on real-world experience, science and evidence—and we now have that experience, science, and evidence as well as the resources to get our children back to school across the nation.


Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, is the 19th Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ninth Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

5 Steps to Maximize Your Fundraising During the Pandemic and Beyond

Can schools effectively fundraise this school year? Many parent groups are wondering if it’s possible or even appropriate to raise funds considering job losses and the fluctuation between virtual, hybrid and on-campus learning across the country. My own children’s school went through this consideration process as well. 

Beyond being on my children’s school board, and two other non-profit boards, I’m the President of Boosterthon, the nation’s largest elementary school fundraising organization. We’re famous for exceptionally successful, fun fitness event fundraisers. We’re proud to say that’s true even in these challenging times for schools. 

When COVID hit last spring and we strategized how to best help schools fundraise, I thought through a simple five step fundraising framework that would allow any organization to fundraise more strategically now and in the future.

As part of National PTA’s Learning Lab webinar series, I shared this framework in a more detailed video, as well as the bad news and the good news of fundraising. 

The good news: It’s not only possible to fundraise, it’s critical to fundraise this school year—and schools are doing it successfully, even in the current climate.

If the pandemic has made fundraising plans foggy for your school, use this framework to give you and your board clarity, so you can make better decisions moving forward.

So, why do schools/non-profits fundraise in the first place?

In short: their cause is greater than their capital. That is a good thing. I believe the pursuit of a good cause will always outpace your current resources. The desire for better learning, more resources, and an ever-improving educational environment requires resources. So, schools fundraise to make up for the gap between what they want to achieve and what they have. It starts with their cause.

Step 1. Cause

A school’s cause is the compelling purpose of their organization. The pandemic has actually made school causes even more important. Our country is facing the biggest educational crisis in modern history. The pandemic has shown our need for better access to technology, more aid for teachers, more need for mental and physical health support, and it has certainly created greater family needs in the school community. While the cause is greater for schools, the pandemic has made the capital feel father away because of job loss and distance learning.

Best practices during these times:

  • Show complete alignment as one school. Don’t distinguish between PTA initiatives and school initiatives.
  • Look ahead to needs for next school year. Don’t just focus on present needs. With looming budget cuts in the future, raise funds now for when states will hand out smaller budgets due to less taxes due to job loss.
  • Share stories of impact whenever you can.

Especially in virtual learning, schools need a reason to rally and support each other—which brings us to Step 2.

Step 2. Campaign

A school’s campaign is an event or activity that builds urgency and anticipation. Your campaign is your time-sensitive fundraiser. For Booster school partners, it’s their Boosterthon fundraiser—a week-long fundraising program that concludes with a fun Fun Run or Dance Fit event that every student gets to participate in. But a campaign could be a bake sale, a direct give campaign, a gala, or a read-a-thon. Whatever you pick, choose a campaign that people will enjoy and get behind.

Best practices during these times:

  • Link your fundraiser to a tangible school improvement. Stay away from “General PTA Budget.” Get specific.
  • Equip teachers with communication about your campaign to take work off of them and ensure alignment. 
  • Ensure every student can participate. This is especially true for virtual learners. We’re proud that our virtual Boosterthon Dance Fit event allows virtual and hybrid learners to be included in the fun.

Steps 3 & Step 4. Campaigners & Channels

Campaigners are committed and connected individuals who multiply your campaign. These are the people who donate or share about your campaign with others. Identify who these people are. Are they school parents? Local businesses? School families’ extended family and friends? 

Channels are the platforms you use to engage these people. Ensure you have a communication strategy that reaches campaigners consistently on your channels—Facebook, email, Remind, etc. Be creative and varied in your communication. Try written, video, and visual communication to keep people’s attention. We recommend starting your communication several weeks in advance of your fundraiser so you can build anticipation for your event. People need time to learn about your campaign, how to participate, and follow through with giving.

Best practices during these times:

  • Families are 53% more likely to share about your fundraiser than last year. Change your call to action to campaigners from “give to our fundraiser” to “share about our fundraiser with others.”
  • Make it easy and fun for donors to give. People are used to high-performing, nicely designed mobile platforms. Select a fundraising software that makes it fast for people to donate.
  • Make it easy for families to share. It multiplies your fundraising efforts when families can share on social media, text message and email. In fact, families are 80% more likely to ask three or more people to donate than they were last year.

Step 5. Capital

Capital is the financial support for your cause. When you put everything together, from championing your cause, picking a campaign, communicating with your campaigners through various channels, the capital follows. 

Best practices during these times:

  • Corporate matching is up 10% this year. Find a fundraiser that offers corporate matching so that you can take advantage of generous programs from large organizations.
  • Add local business sponsorships. Do not be afraid to ask for support from your community partners. Find out ways you can help them as well. A true partnership is mutually beneficial.

If anything, use this five step framework as a fundraising diagnostic with your PTA Board and assess how you are doing in each of these areas to ultimately raise enough capital for your cause. Plus, you can use this downloadable fundraising checklist to help you plan for and determine the right fundraiser for your school.

Booster has made significant adjustments in each of these areas over the last school year to make our school partners as successful as possible. It’s why our school partners will end up profiting more than $41 million for education even during these difficult times.

If your board is interested in learning more about hosting a fun, flexible and successful Boosterthon fundraiser, we’d love to chat!

Arlington Science Focus School Virtual Family STEM Night 2021

Think you can’t host a family fun night while remote learning? Think again! Arlington Science Focus School, an elementary school in Arlington, Va., hosted its first-ever Virtual Family STEM Night Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The event went off without a hitch thanks to ASFS Investigation Station Lead, Stephanie Lin, the 2020 NOVA District PTA Educator of the Year, and a team of volunteers made up of ASFS teachers, parents, local high school students, and community partners.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade families were able to connect with one another and enjoy an evening of virtual STEM activities and live presentations, all from home. Students joined Microsoft Teams calls to listen to live presenters, watch demonstrations, and participate in a variety of science and engineering stations.

Thanks to the support of the ASFS PTA, families were able to pick up STEM Night supply kits with bags of simple materials needed for each of the experiments, and many of the activities could be completed with supplies found at home.

Some of the night’s highlights included hands-on activities, such as:

  • Building Index Card Towers
  • Creating Ocean Sculptures from recycled materials
  • Building a LED Copper Tape Flashlight
  • Making a Balloon-Powered Boat with a sponge, straw and balloon
  • Creating Underwater Fireworks with oil and food coloring
  • Experimenting with Paper Cup Constellations using a flashlight
  • Making music in the Chrome Music Lab

The event also featured presentations and demonstrations, including:

  • Astronomy presentations by a speaker from NASA
  • ASFS First Lego League Robotics Team demonstration
  • Reptile and amphibian presentation by a nature center representative
  • Space shuttle simulation with the ASFS student Tech Crew
  • STEM career talks by a Bioinformaticist, Computer Scientist, Environmental Engineer, Forester and Sustainability Analyst

Although the virtual experience was not the same as the annual science fair typically held at school, it was great to see so many families engaging and participating in this school-wide event and enjoying STEM in this virtual world.

Two of the most popular STEM activities from the night were National PTA STEM @ Home activities: STEM @ Home Experiment 2: Ballon Boat and STEM @ Home Experiment 5: Copper Tape Flashlights. For the Balloon Boat, many students filled up their sinks or bathtubs with water and enjoyed watching their boats travel. Siblings loved racing their boats against each other. With the Copper Tape Flashlight, students were amazed that the LED light could light up with simple household materials, and they loved how bright it was!

Interested in hosting your own virtual STEM night? Check out National PTA’s STEM @ Home page for more information.

ASFS Family STEM Night Photos

It’s Not Too Late To PTA!

It’s been a school year like no other. Many schools remain closed, offer hybrid attendance or are open one day and closed the next due to increased cases of COVID-19 in the community. But PTAs don’t need a school building to support their families!

Are you still PTA/PTSA-ing in your school communities? Kids, families, teachers, principals and schools need your PTA more than ever this year. Your PTA can play a key role in helping support your school community in these tough times. It’s not too late to PTA this school year!

If you had a slow start to your PTA year, renew your efforts in 2021. For many, if COVID-19 has meant the needs of your school community have changed, have your PTA refocus on responding to—and supporting—those needs. Everyone has learned so much about how to communicate in a virtual world, so put those new skills to work.

Want a chance to win prizes for your PTA? There are questions embedded throughout this blog. Enter the answers at the end of the blog to be entered in a raffle to win prizes for your PTA.

Supporting Your Community—Virtually

As a PTA leader, determine what is a necessity versus what may need to wait till next school year. Are the event/activities/programs previously hosted by your PTA/PTSA still relevant this year? Can they be revamped to address the new needs of your community or is something new needed that better addresses those needs? It’s never too late to start serving your families and community.

If your PTA has been actively advocating for the children of your community and has been holding virtual or hybrid event(s), programs or community outreach, let your community know your PTA is fighting for all the children and families of your community.

Promote your activities via Facebook, Instagram, newsletters, etc. so people know what your PTA is doing. It’s important to continually ask whether your community knows why your PTA is valuable to them. Check out the new Membership Campaign customizable graphics and messaging that you can use to promote your PTA with an ask to join.

Create a membership campaign that will resonate with your community by highlighting the help you are providing your community and ask people to join, support or invest your PTA so you can continue your work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how PTA/PTSAs communicate, grow and accomplish the PTA mission within their school communities. PTA members tell us what they value the most about their membership is networking/connection their PTA provides for all families, the way PTA enhances education and the avenue PTA provides for them to have a voice in what is happening in their school and community. There is still time to virtually provide these types of benefits for your PTA members.

How to Run Your PTA/PTSA in the Virtual World

In response to the new needs of PTA/PTSAs, National PTA has developed several resources in the past year to help your PTA be virtual and thrive in this new PTA world.

Question 1: What are 3 of the 5 PTA Values? (hint)

Networking: Learn from your peers virtually

In these times, staying connected is key. Join the PTA Local Leaders Facebook group to instantly share, chat, collaborate, connect and learn from other leaders like you across the country. You should also sign up for National PTA newsletters.

Check with your state, region, district or council PTA to find out if there other networking opportunities in your local community.

Question 2: Do you need a school building to PTA?

Virtual National PTA Programs

National PTA offers several different programs for PTAs. In fact, with the pandemic in mind, we have revamped our programs and launched PTA Programs at Home, which are completely customizable to the needs of your school community. The programs have options for real-time (your PTA will host a virtual event), at your own pace (families will watch recorded videos and follow along), and tech-free.

  • STEM + Families Science Festivals at Home: By hosting a National PTA STEM + Families Science Festival program, your PTA will provide amazing opportunities for families to participate in shared, hands-on science activities. Help all kids and families experience and explore activities and be inspired to pursue careers in STEM!
  • STEM + Families Propelling Our World at Home: By hosting our NEW National PTA STEM + Families Propelling Our World program, your PTA will provide amazing opportunities for families to participate in shared, hands-on activities that will build science, technology, engineering and math skills.
  • PTA Connected Smart Talk Program at Home: As children spend more time online in this COVID world, are parents in your community looking for resources to keep their children safe on the internet? Consider hosting The Smart Talk Conversation.
  • Healthy Hydration Program at Home: Although our day-to-day lives have changed, drinking water is no less important! Check out this program to help families make healthier choices this year.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign the available resources from National PTA to fit the needs of your school community. Check in with your State PTA as well to see if they have additional resources.

Connect with your school community

Staying connected to your PTA members is very important. Without staying connected, how will you know the needs of your community? The needs today might be different than the needs a few months down the road, especially in these times. You do not need to be the experts because your PTA can partner with other non-profits or other community organizers to bring resources to support your families. Send out a survey using Facebook polls, Google forms, etc. to your community to find out what is most important to your PTA community now.

COVID-19 is hitting certain communities more than others. Reflect on the demographics of your school community. Communicate in the languages your families speak. If you are a community of Spanish speakers, National PTA offers many of our resources in Spanish on the National PTA website. How are you communicating with families with limited access to technology and the internet?

Question 3: Why do you PTA?

Let’s Do This!

Things have been constantly changing but your PTA can, and should, start planning now for the rest of the school year. Remember that saying … it’s better late than never. So don’t wait another minute! Start supporting your PTA families and community today.

Most people don’t join their local PTA for the simplest reason … because they were never asked! Now is the best time to start asking! Include an ask to join your PTA in all your messaging, at every event in person or virtual, social media postings and email communications. Brand everything you do with your PTA logo because if you don’t, how will people know it is your PTA who is bringing these valuable resources or programs? If you don’t have a logo, you can create one here in 30 seconds!

On behalf of National PTA, thank you for all you do to support children and families. We know the times are tough for everyone, but we want you to know that you’re doing an amazing job and we’re so #PTAProud of you! 

Pop Quiz Prize Entry

If you have answered all three questions in this blog, fill out this form.


Kirthana Krishnathasan is theMembership & Field Service Specialist for National PTA.