The New PTA Normal: PTA Amazing!

After the upheaval and uncertainty of the past year and a half, do you find yourself anxious to get your PTA back to “normal?” What is “normal” anyway? Merriam Webster defines normal as, “conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern; characterized by that which is considered usual, typical or routine.” So maybe, after all that has happened, none of us should aspire to be “normal.”

After all, as Maya Angelou once said, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” It is time to strive for amazing so we can accomplish astounding outcomes for children and families. This begins with two simple questions. What did we learn in the past year and half? How can we use it to do even more for children and families?

Connected, Even While Apart

PTAs around the country reported that Zoom membership meetings had higher attendance than pre-COVID-19 pandemic face-to-face meetings. They told us people with work schedule conflicts, babysitting needs, disabilities and transportation challenges were suddenly able to attend PTA meetings because they were virtual. These individuals reported how excited they were to particpate and many offered to volunteer.

So, will your PTA go back to “normal” this year with all face-to-face meetings or will you mix it up, allow more access, and throw in some or all virtual meetings? Your state PTA can help you on your path to amazing. Learn more about making the most out of virtual meetings with this video training.

Raise Your Voice for Every Child!

PTAs also reported finding their voice during the pandemic. They saw a niche and filled it, ensuring their members and community were connected and informed, speaking with one voice on behalf of their members. Many of these leaders were new to local advocacy and reported how great it felt to have an impact. They told National PTA that new members joined because of their PTA’s advocacy, seeing value in PTA for the first time and recognizing PTA was more than a fundraising machine.

So, does your PTA go back to the same routine, or do you continue to find ways to amaze and network families and community and raise your collective voices for what children and families need? Check out National PTA’s Public Policy Platform to find Policy Briefs you can use to address inequities in your community.

A School is More Than a Building

PTA leaders worked hard to overcome the mistaken impression that you need a school building to PTA. They discovered that events could be held in public spaces, that other PTAs and community associations and PTAs were excellent partners in getting things done, and that programming could happen in a virtual space.

They learned what community and non-school based PTAs have always known—you do not need a building to PTA. And, they changed the perception of PTA from a school-based fundraising organization to a community-centered resource for families, and discovered new partners, funding, and members. So, will your PTA return to its typical line-up of activities, or will you instead PTA Beyond the Building and amaze your community?

PTA’s Path to Amazing

Studies show that many Americans do not want to return to a normal workday with the same old routines and expectations. Do they want to return to a normal PTA? PTAs around the world learned to adapt to the sudden, drastic change in environment caused by the pandemic, so PTAs can definitely handle whatever the 2021-2022 school year throws at us. And we can take what we learned during the shutdown and make PTA an even stronger force for children and families.

If your PTA paused last year, start small. Use a National PTA program or grant to get going. If you need help recruiting members, visit the new National PTA membership webpage for resources and ideas. And, if you are part of a PTA that strives to return to “normal,” listen to Alice Hoffman, who wrote, “When are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes lack of courage.” Amazing and courageous—that is something for all PTAs to aspire to be.


Deborah Walsh is the manager of membership outreach for National PTA.

Getting the Most From School Meals—How Parents Can Help

Have you heard? Nutritious school meals are free for all children through June 30, 2022.

On a regular school day, millions of students have access to nutritious meals through school meal programs including the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Sadly, a recent report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) revealed in April 2020 alone, 54 school districts across 28 states and the District of Columbia served 21 million fewer breakfasts and 44 million fewer lunches when compared to October 2019. The fact is that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase food insecurity.

But there’s good news too! In response to concerns that children were missing out on nutritious meals, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the extension of meal service flexibilities. This means schools can now safely offer free school meals to all children, regardless of household income, through June 2022. This includes during summer break. Families should check with their school districts for more information on getting these free meals.

What’s in a School Meal?

You may be wondering what is included in these free breakfasts and lunches. The meals served through these programs must meet specific nutrition requirements, including serving fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and milk. In fact, a recent study from Tufts University found that among children in the United States, foods consumed at schools had the highest overall diet quality of any other food source.

Although these foods are healthy, some children may be hesitant to try the food from school because it may be unfamiliar, or they are just not interested in eating certain foods, like vegetables. Sound familiar? Rather than seeing food go to waste and your child or children not getting the proper nutrition for their growing bodies, you can take steps to encourage healthier eating.

Three generation family washing vegetables in the kitchen

Model healthy eating at home. Reinforcing healthy behaviors both in and out of school is key. Try some of these tips to make it happen:

  • Review school menus with your child and encourage them to try new food items. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about what they will be served, and the nutrients provided by the different foods.
  • Get your kids involved in meal planning at home and let them pick a new vegetable or fruit to try each week. This is a great opportunity to have older children research different options for using the fruit or vegetable in a meal.
  • Got a green thumb? Plant a garden at home, or volunteer to help with a community or school garden.

Get involved in school health activities. Although opportunities to get involved may vary in each community as schools work to safely reopen, consider some of these ideas you might be able to participate in to help create a healthier school:

  • Join the school or district committee (wellness committee) that sets the policies for health and wellness.
  • Eat school breakfast or lunch with your child.
  • Offer to help with taste tests or other nutrition promotion activities in the school cafeteria.
  • Talk with the school cafeteria manager about items you would like to see served.

Note: If your child has special nutritional needs—such as allergies, sensitivities, or restrictions due to a medical condition, talk to your school’s cafeteria manager about meal modifications for your child.

More Information:

Research shows that students who participate in the school meal programs consume more whole grains, milk, fruits, and vegetables during meal times and have better overall diet quality, than nonparticipants.(1,2) And, eating breakfast at school is associated with better attendance rates, fewer missed school days, and better test scores.(3–6)

  1. Fox MK, Gearan E, Cabili C, et al. School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study, Final Report Volume 4: Student Participation, Satisfaction, Plate Waste, and Dietary Intakes. Alexandria, VA: US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Policy Support; 2019. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/SNMCS-Volume4.pdf. Accessed June 1, 2021.
  2. Kinderknecht K, Harris C, Jones-Smith J. Association of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act with dietary quality among children in the US National School Lunch Program. JAMA. 2020;324(4):359–368.
  3. Murphy JM, Pagano MR, Nachmani J, Sperling P, Kane S, Kleinman RR. The relationship of school breakfast to psychosocial and academic functioning. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152:899–107.
  4. Murphy JM, Pagano M, Bishop SJ. Impact of a universally free, in-classroom school breakfast program on achievement: results from the Abell Foundation’s Baltimore Breakfast Challenge Program. Boston, MA: Massachusetts General Hospital; 2001.
  5. Murphy JM, Drake JE, Weineke KM. Academics and Breakfast Connection Pilot: Final Report on New York’s Classroom Breakfast Project. Albany, NY: Nutrition Consortium of New York; 2005.
  6. Myers A, Sampson A, Weitzman M, Rogers B, Kayne H. School Breakfast Program and school performance. Am J Dis Child. 1989;143:1234–9.

Congratulations, 2020-2021 National PTA Reflections Outstanding Interpretation Winners!

On May 1, National PTA announced the 2020-2021 Reflections winners for the student-selected theme I Matter Because…. Over 200 students from 38 State PTA Congresses earned national recognition for their creative accomplishments in Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography and Visual Arts. The program also offers a Special Artist Division to recognize students with disabilities who participate. Seven remarkable students earned the National PTA Reflections program’s highest achievement: the Outstanding Interpretation Award. We are proud to recognize this year’s Outstanding Interpretation Award winners!

Mark Wagner – Special Artist – Dance Choreography
Dana Hills High School PTSA, California

Mark showed us the strength of his voice through his choreography piece titled “I Speak With My Dancing.” In his artist statement, Mark wrote, “I matter because I am different. I speak with my dancing.”

Mark has been dancing since he was five years old, and he practiced every week for two months to develop his Reflections submission. He is a fearless performer who loves to entertain big crowds with his creative movements. His mother, Mercedes, shared, “For him to achieve this award, in his Special Artist category, is truly an honor for him and our family.”

Sydney Ware – Dance Choreography
Dekalb School of the Arts PTSA, Georgia

Sydney’s creativity stood out with “In This Shirt,” her dance choreography piece. In her artist statement, Sydney explained, “The whole song is about being lost as an individual, so I used that as a way to represent that we all are lost sometimes. The video begins with the dancers describing why they matter.

The dance begins with them wearing shirts that say ‘Why Do I Matter?’. Throughout the dance they find themselves as individuals and have their own solo moments. They also change into their own individual
outfits, to express finding their individuality. ‘On the journey to finding yourself, there will always be reasons why you matter’.”

Sydney finds value in choreographing to express herself. She shared, “I really enjoyed working on this piece. At the time we had been in quarantine for six months, so I was really ready to put positive energy into something that I enjoyed doing.”

Zoe Caraballo – Film Production
Green Township PTA, New Jersey

Zoe’s film production “I Matter” exemplifies the student-selected Reflections theme. In her artist statement, she explained, “To matter, you have to choose to matter. Through my video, I explain how I can make a difference in the world through small acts and how you could matter too if you choose to.”

For Zoe, art is “an opportunity to spread my message about serious topics in the world in an eye-catching way.” In this film, which includes an immersive Minecraft-inspired scene, she combined her passions for poetry and film production.

Joshua Johnson – Literature
Bennion Junior High PTSA, Utah

Joshua wrote a powerful poem titled “The Voice In My Head.” In his artist statement, he explained the piece’s context: “2020 has been unbelievably challenging for many people, including me. With the physical, emotional, mental, financial, academic, political, and social challenges we’ve all faced this year, I wanted to write a poem that expressed the feelings and experiences I have had and I have heard. I believe I matter because I can do hard things. I am becoming a better person, a better student, a better
family member, and a better member of our society because of the things I am learning by being resilient.

Because I know I matter, I believe I help other people know they matter.”
Though Joshua typically sources inspiration for his poems based on what is in his head and heart, this poem comes straight from his heart. He shared that the poem “was really personal to me. It was my attempt to articulate everything I had been feeling about [last] year.”

Johan Novak – Music Composition
Odle Middle School PTSA, Washington

Johan’s moving musical composition piece, titled “Legacy,” expresses the power of individual influence. In his artist statement, he shared, “Last summer, our dear family friend with cancer spent her final days in
hospice care in our home. She was a phenomenal musician, my music teacher, and most of all my friend.

She left me her legacy of music and love, and inspired me to write this song. In her death, I saw how precious life is. We take so many things for granted and forget that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I matter because I create a legacy with each day I have. I can make the world a better place and honor those who gave me so much.”

Like so many, Johan has found joy through art. He shared, “Writing my Reflections song helped me express my feelings, and I hope that my music has personal meaning to you. I write music to express my feelings and because it makes me happy.”

Maeryn Elizabeth Jacob – Photography
Lawton Chiles Middle School PTSA, Florida
Maeryn’s photograph demonstrates her power to change the world. In her artist statement, Maeryn explained, “I matter because I fight for my beliefs. Though I am young I believe I can still have a big impact on the world. This world is suffering, and we need to do everything we can to help undo the things we have done. As a part of the upcoming generation, who will need to fix our world so that the next generations after us, still have a place to live.”

Photography allows Maeryn to share her perspective on the world with others. With her Young Artist Scholarship, Maeryn plans to save most of the winning money – but she also wants to get a hamster with some of it!

Claire Moon – Visual Arts
Rachel Carson Middle School PTA, Virginia

Claire’s intricate visual arts piece is titled “My Pieces of Quilt.” She explained her inspiration in her artist statement, writing, “I thought of pieces someone needs during their journey to potential success, so I thought of paper, which represents the pieces in a story. In this artwork, I incorporated states of paper, including signs of where we face failure, so we give up, crumple, and tear up what we initially had in mind,
but also the remarkable achievements that we pin and clip to stay flexible and fold it into an impacting lesson. Therefore, I matter because by taping the achievements and failures, I can string together the hardships I face to grow my identity into a developing masterpiece.”

Now in middle school, Claire has participated in the Reflections program since she was a third grader. She shared, “I enjoy [Reflections] because it helps me reflect on what’s happening around me and to
figure out what I’ve learned.”

Congratulations to our Outstanding Interpretation winners: Mark Wagner, Sydney Ware, Zoe Caraballo, Joshua Johnson, Johan Novak, Maeryn Elizabeth Jacob, and Claire Moon! We look forward to celebrating your achievements at the virtual PTA Convention & Expo and throughout the year.

We are also so inspired by all the “I Matter Because…” awardees. Please visit PTA.org/ReflectionsAwards to find the official Reflections awards announcement , the complete list of student winners, and our
Virtual Exhibit of student works. Stay connected to National PTA on social media (@NationalPTA and PTAReflections) as we continue to recognize and celebrate student talents throughout the year.


Sarah Scalet, National PTA’s Arts in Education Fellow

The Value of Versatility: PTA Programs at Home

If we learned one thing from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we all needed to take a step back and reconsider how to engage PTA members, students and families in school communities—and that you don’t need a school building to stay connected to your PTA members and your school community.

In response, National PTA has revamped and reimagined our programs to launch PTA Programs at Home—completely customizable program options that you can adapt to meet the unique needs of your school community. You can host an online virtual event, or you can offer program activities for families to complete at their own pace, with or without technology! Choose from STEM + Families Science Festivals at Home, STEM + Families Propelling Our World at HomePTA Connected Smart Talk Program at Home, and Healthy Hydration Program at Home.

Close to 30,000 children, family members, school staff and community members participated in PTA Programs at Home during the 2020-2021 school year. 98% of families that completed the PTA Programs at Home satisfaction survey said that they would like to do more of these activities with their family. That’s amazing and a testament to how engaging the programs are!

The benefits don’t stop there, though. Many PTA leaders reported that their choice to offer PTA Programs at Home led to more parent and caregiver engagement, which led to increased PTA membership. Some PTAs even reported they were able to reach families that had never attended a PTA or school event!

We learned so much from PTA leaders through these new program offerings and want to ensure that everyone throughout our PTA network is aware of just how easy it is to offer PTA Programs at Home. 76% of PTA leaders responded that PTA Programs at Home toolkit and materials were very useful! 74% of PTA leaders found our National PTA technical assistance to be very helpful as well!

That’s right—at National PTA we are always working to provide your PTA with support. When you decide to host PTA Programs at Home, you gain access to technical assistance, networking opportunities with other PTA leaders, grab and drop program materials, an upcoming Programs calendar to help you plan your program year, and storytelling resources to help your PTA tell your story! But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what our PTA Programs at Home participants have to say.

PTA Programs at Home Highlights

Keeth Elementary PTA located in Winter Springs, Fla., ran the PTA Programs at Home STEM + Families Propelling Our World Program this school year, reaching over 700 students and family members. The PTA made the program available for families to participate at their own pace, providing an opportunity for families to do the activities together, building science, technology, engineering and math skills through challenging engineering design challenges. Check out this cool video!

  • Twin Echo School PTA, located in Collinsville, Ill., ran the PTA Programs at Home Healthy Hydration Program. One PTA leader said, “We reached over 450 individuals! Many of our students were unaware of the sugars in their favorite drinks. By educating them and showing them other healthy options through this program, we influenced them to choose healthier options and to choose water!”
  • Hembree Springs Elementary School PTA, located in Rosewell, Ga., was able to engage over 120 students and families through the PTA Programs at Home Science Festival Program. They hosted a live, virtual event and provided activities for families to do while watching at home. Students and families were so excited! One family member was so inspired by the event that they decided to volunteer to be on the PTA Board for the upcoming school year, to ensure that the PTA can continue offering these fun and engaging programs!
  • Lynn Wood Elementary School PTA, located in Broken Arrow, Okla., ran the PTA Programs at Home Smart Talk Program, serving 75 students and family members. With students and families more online than ever before, they knew an event like this was critical. One PTA leader shared, “We believe this program allowed our PTA to facilitate a focused engaging task for families that truly fostered transformative engagement amongst our school community.”

How We PTA: Every Child. One Voice.

As you begin planning for the 2021-2022 school year, remember: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just realign your efforts with 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 tools.

Please reach out to National PTA if you need support in determining how PTA Programs at Home can work for your school community!  Follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletters. National PTA has a wealth of information, right at your fingertips. We are here to support you!

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.