STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK 2021 – 2024
League of Education Voters (LEV Foundation) acts to serve the interests of students and families across the state of Washington to improve education access and quality, particularly those who have been harmed by historical and systemic inequities, by:
- Conducting and sharing research that provides straightforward information to inform students, families, and decision-makers about public education in Washington.
- Working with communities to develop and advocate for policies that eradicate historical and systemic racial disparities and help close the opportunity gap among historically and systemically underserved students and families in Washington.
- Monitoring policies and practices closely to ensure they are implemented in a timely and equitable manner.
- Organizing and mobilizing students and families and ensuring community voices are heard by decision-makers.
- Partnering with stakeholders to advocate for an equitable, high-quality, and fully funded public education.
Every student in Washington state has access to an excellent public education that provides equitable opportunities for success.
|Put Students First: Students have an important voice in shaping the education system. Families are critical partners in student success. We commit to working with students, families, and communities – especially Black, Indigenous and students of color, students with disabilities, students gaining English proficiency, students experiencing homelessness, foster youth, and other historically marginalized students – to identify barriers and formulate solutions together, and we support them in organizing to advocate for their future.|
|Honor Community Knowledge and Experience: LEV recognizes that communities themselves offer the best definition of the challenges they face and often the best pathways for addressing them.|
|Embrace Anti-Racism: We are committed to understanding and dismantling historic and systemic racism which creates stark inequities in education and being held accountable for our own action or inaction. We are also committed to looking inward at LEV’s history, committing to changes, and being accountable for them.|
|Operationalize Equity: We believe equity should lie at the heart of our decision-making. We must employ approaches and build structures and policies externally and internally that will be designed to embed equity at every decision point.|
|Advocate for Educators Who Better Reflect the Students They Serve: We believe students need teachers and school leaders who reflect them, understand their lived experiences, and are equipped to help them succeed.|
|Pursue Collaboration: We believe we are most effective when we work across the lines of difference toward common solutions. We will learn from the community and acknowledge the power of lived experience.|
|Act with Courage: We will have the courage to act, to learn from our actions, and to strive to improve our practice with innovation and humility.|
|Remain Nonpartisan: We believe education is not a partisan issue. We are deeply engaged in the political process but do not align ourselves with any political party.|
Long Term Intended Impact
- League of Education Voters will have helped to build a more equitable education system in Washington that puts students first. Opportunity gaps based on race or income will have been reduced or eliminated. The League will have used strong partnerships based on trust to develop solutions focused on community needs to support students and families that have been historically and systemically underserved by our education system. Our partners include those with whom we intersect, those with whom we align, those from whom we can learn, and those we support.
- Students will feel safe and supported by educators who share their lived experiences. The League and its partners will understand and acknowledge how systemic racism has tilted the scales when it comes to education and will be motivated to dismantle those longstanding and deep-seated barriers.
- Funding for schools will be more stable and equitable.
LEV’s Unique Niche
League of Education Voters is uniquely positioned to take guidance from the perspectives of students and families all across Washington, elevate their voices, and advocate for addressing their needs and concerns. We have field organizers on both sides of the Cascades. Our communications platforms reach all corners of the state with popular LEVinars, active social media channels, and the ability to connect with and empower students, families, and educators alike. Because we have both a c(3) and c(4) tax status, we are able to work “bottom-up” to help develop community-driven policy changes, and then see those proposals through to adoption at both the legislative and administrative levels. As we work to deepen our commitment to equity and undoing systemic racism, this will be operationalized in our organizing and community outreach, our research and information sharing, and our core policy advocacy.
Three Year Benchmarks
By the end of the three-year term of this plan, LEV seeks to accomplish the following:
- Build an increased field presence and strong, trust-based relationships with historically and systematically underserved communities. Invest in community leadership through work like the Promotora model, sharing power, resources, and knowledge for community members to lead the way and drive LEV’s and others’ policy priorities.
- LEV’s political action committee is fully functional, funded, and supports more frequent interaction with decision-makers.
- LEV’s funding has diversified to the point that no single funder accounts for more than (50%) of LEV’s budget.
- LEV’s internal, organizational culture will better reflect our values around diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, and reflect the future K-12 student population of Washington by:
- Utilizing anti-racist recruiting and hiring practices
- Retaining and supporting Staff and Board members by prioritizing a culture built on trust and authentic relationships, where diversity is welcomed and valued. We honor the distinctions around lived vs. learned understanding of racism, white supremacy, and systemic injustice in our discussions and decision-making
- Continuing to provide ongoing DEI training and counseling.
- Staying connected to partners around internal, organizational DEI and anti-racism work in order to learn from one another and remain accountable.
- LEV’s Field operation has grown in strength, including deeper work in King County, which was a position that has been lost in the last several years and is a key goal for the rebuilding of LEV’s presence. However, we will continue to invest in field operations in other areas in the future, as well, as we are a statewide organization.
- LEV’s outreach and communications most often feature community voices.
- LEV’s training and materials are available in multiple languages.
- LEV is producing quarterly thought-leadership pieces (self-publishing OK).
- Policy priorities are updated annually and clearly stated on the LEV website.
External Context and Trends
- America is in the midst of a national reckoning around systemic racism, offering the potential for new policies and practices in the education system.
- Philanthropy’s response to political change is unpredictable and can quickly result in a shift in funding priorities.
- There is a lack of alignment around policy among key advocacy and institutional players in Washington state.
- Economic fallout from the current pandemic will likely continue creating uncertainty in the education and philanthropic sector.
- According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wealth gap continues to grow wider in Washington state, with the state having the tenth widest income gap in the country.
- Continued volatility of the stock market can impact both foundation and individual giving.
- The economic impact of COVID will not be felt equally, nor will the opportunities for recovery with the biggest burden falling on low-income communities. With current statewide unemployment rates at 6.0% seasonally adjusted (November 2020) compared to 3.9% (January 2020). With accommodation and food services, educational services, arts, entertainment, and recreation impacted the greatest. These sectors are often characterized by lower wages, younger wages, and people of color (Washington State Employment Security Department).
- The United States population will continue to become more diverse. In Washington state, 2010 Census data revealed the White population (persons not of Hispanic or Latin Origin) made up 69.3% of residents and fell two points to 67.5% by 2019.
- Within 25 years the Census Bureau predicts people of color will make up a majority of the US population.
- Some funders are becoming at least nominally aware of the need for a more equitable distribution of resources and may consider changing their grant-making to rectify that.
- Family disruption and loss from COVID has been more widespread in BIPOC and low-income communities (In WA state, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander have a death rate that is six times higher than whites, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Hispanic populations have a death rate that is four times higher than Whites, and the Black Population has a death rate that is about twice as high as White population according to Washington State Department of Health) due to historic and systemic inequities, social determinants of health have historically disadvantaged access to health care, education and the distribution of wealth (see for example, Centers for Disease Control Prevention, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 Morbidity by Race in Washington state).
- The pandemic and the subsequent need for remote learning has underscored the digital divide among Washington’s students. According to the group All in WA, 22% of Washington children do not have access to broadband internet and 15% have no access to a computer or tablet.
- Because of the pandemic, remote access and connection speed are more important than ever.
- The current window for re-imagining education, spurred by the pandemic, will not stay open forever.
Opportunities and Challenges
- LEV is the largest statewide education advocacy organization in Washington state.
- Recent and ongoing additions to the Board and staff bring new perspectives, connections, and experience.
- Experienced and stable leadership is in place after a period of volatility.
- COVID is shining a light on weaknesses and inequities in the education system.
- The current pandemic crisis will cause the examination of key education issues such as curriculum, school safety, and equitable access.
- LEV is a respected and trusted source of information about education in Washington.
- LEV has both a statewide reach and, increasingly, strong relationships on the community level.
- COVID aftermath could/should lead to increased investment in historically and systemically underserved communities.
- LEV has the structural flexibility to conduct both c(3) and c(4) activities.
- Economic fallout from the pandemic could drastically affect education budgets on both the state and the district level.
- The current reliance on remote learning is unprecedented with a huge knowledge gap about how to do it successfully.
- LEV remains a predominantly white organization, both on staff and Board.
- While LEV has a strong field presence in Central and Eastern Washington, that function still needs to be built out in Western Washington.
- LEV is overly reliant on a small number of funders.
- LEV has not been a good partner in some parts of the community in the past. This includes times in which LEV took credit for the work of many or focused on putting our own organization ahead of others. It may take time to rebuild trust with some partners which had bad experiences in the past. We will work to regain trust and lift up the work of the community.
LEV Goals and Strategies 2021 to 2024
|1. Establish clear annual program priorities that support and promote equitable access to educational opportunities among systemically and historically underserved students and help to close the opportunity gap.||● Apply the following criteria for prioritizing program work; not listed in any order of importance:
1. Does the work center anti-racism and help students who are historically and systemically underserved, as indicated by LEV’s equity screening tool.
2. Does the work contribute to statewide and/or systemic change?
3. Are there adequate resources, both human and financial, to make this work successful?
4. Is the work urgent or timely?
5. What is the appetite for this work among community members? Among peer groups? Among policymakers?
6. Does LEV have the bandwidth and other resources to take on this work? Is there other important work that will suffer as a result?
7. Is LEV the best source of expertise for this work or is there someone else better suited to take a leadership role?
8. Is the timeline for this work realistic?
9. Does the work allow LEV to innovate, learn and grow?
● Use these criteria to update policy priorities on an (annual, semi-annual) basis.
● Lead advocacy and research when appropriate and serve as a community partner and supporter when appropriate.
● Be transparent about program priorities through clear communication on the LEV website that can be easily linked in other communications.
● Develop communication points on all program priorities for staff, board, and stakeholders.
● Ensure that we identify the intersectionality between systemic racism and the program priorities we select.
● Invest time in developing real, non-transactional relationships with community-based organizations and BIPOC leaders.
|2. Actively seek input from the communities we serve and use that input to shape our work while investing in and supporting those communities.||● Expand LEV’s outreach and trust-building efforts prior to setting legislative priorities.
● Establish closer ties with CBOs by creating clear structures and processes, such as community advisory groups, to inform LEV’s agenda both at the State Legislature and outside of the session.
● Create pathways and/or processes that enable us to be accountable to the communities we serve.
● Conduct regular community advocacy training opportunities.
● Make LEV training and outreach available in multiple languages to better reach community members.
● Expand the use of community participatory research in our advocacy and agenda-setting process.
● Do an audit of LEV accessibility and improve on recommendations of the audit.
|3. Strengthen our political outreach function to better support both our (c)3 and (c)4 work.||● Create an internal working group to identify measures to make political work more effective.
● Create more frequent and effective advocacy days.
● Reinstate the political endorsement process in our (c)4.
● Rejuvenate LEV’s political action committee.
● Actively seek to find donors and supporters of political advocacy programming.
● Build advocacy base and turnout capabilities.
|4. Develop a Theory of Change in 2021 that defines LEV’s contribution and role in dismantling systemic racism in education.||● Solicit input from key community leaders, peer organizations, funders, and decision-makers.
● Create a staff working group to produce a draft Theory of Change (TOC) for Board approval.
|1. Increase our commitment to equity in our daily practice to better reflect and understand the communities we serve.||● Adjust policies and procedures with an increased commitment to equity.
● Continue training and coaching work with our DEI consultant throughout the lifetime of the plan.
● Review hiring and recruitment policies aimed at ensuring a diverse pool of candidates is considered for all staff and Board openings.
● Adopt common definitions of DEI terminology across staff and Board.
● Ensure that the DEI meets regularly and has a clear advisory role within the organization.
● Work with a consultant (Anti-Racism at Work) to improve internally.
|2. Take steps to improve retention and employee wellness.||● Encourage staff retention and wellness by developing and clarifying policies around salary and benefits, working conditions, and professional development.
● Support mental health and other staff supports through COVID-19 and beyond.
● Align organizational policies and procedures in the employee handbook.
● Ensure that employee pay and benefits are accurate and well-communicated.
● Create a regular salary review to ensure LEV is addressing pay equity.
● Create and maintain an annual review system that includes goal setting, opportunities for career advancement, and mutual evaluation between employee and supervisor. This should include clear and transparent pathways for mobility for staff.
|3. Engage communities across Washington state through our communications channels.||● Increase LEVinar focuses on underserved populations and integrate community voice.
● Spotlight education perspectives, policies, research, and practices in the LEV podcast.
● Build a new website to improve access and navigability.
● Drive thought leadership through op-eds and speaking opportunities for senior leaders of LEV.
● Engage students, parents, educators, policymakers, and partners through social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn).
● Integrate partner voice in our communications efforts through guest-hosting of events, LEVinars, and guest blogs.
● Clarify LEV’s brand and develop additional tools to communicate the difference LEV makes.
|4. Address staffing gaps in development and community engagement.||● Create an annual staffing plan reflected in the annual budget.
● Hire Policy and Field Specialist in 2021, contingent on funding.
● Develop resources to hire Grant Writer/Fundraiser in 2021.
|5. Clarify expectations of the Board and support ongoing alignment with LEV values and priorities.||● Provide regular DEI training and coaching for Board members.
● Provide education for Board on (c)3 and (c)4 activities to bolster support for political outreach.
● Strive for 100% participation in annual fundraising.
● Work with the Board to expand connections with potential corporate supporters (10 during the life of the plan).
● Create a charter for each Board committee augmented by an annual scope of work.
● Prepare quarterly updates for Board members on how they can be most helpful in supporting LEV’s work and ensure alignment with the strategic framework.
● Initiate a Board buddy system for new members.
● Conduct an annual Board satisfaction survey.
|Finance and Fund Development Goals|
|1. Grow the annual budget to $3 million by the end of this plan.||● Diversify foundation funding sources in a way that adheres to core values and supports work in the entire state of Washington.
● Continue ongoing connections and coordination with LEV’s key individual donors while bringing new donors into the pipeline.
● Steward existing donors with insider events on the legislative session as well as other ongoing (non-solicitation) contact for donors.
● Ensure adequate staffing of the development function.
● Grow sponsorship of LEV’s annual event.
● Create donor platform with email marketing based on donor survey
|2. Build out and improve our financial management and tracking.||● Improve and maintain accuracy and consistency of financial records.
● Review and update, as needed, accounting structure and reporting to improve the usefulness of financial data for all users – Board, staff, funders.
● Update and maintain financial and accounting policies and procedures.
● Ensure accurate reporting to government agencies.
● Bring staff into the budget process to increase transparency.
● Correct issues identified in the 2019 audit in anticipation of clean future audits.
● Train relevant staff in reporting accurate grant metrics.
|3. Manage and track spending to ensure efficient use of resources.||● Train staff in relevant financial matters, including program budgeting, the status of program expenses, and basic understanding of high-level financial reports.
● Evaluate long-term operational commitments, e.g. office space.
The following definitions provide working language from the Racial Equity Tools, the Anti-Defamation League, and the People’s Institute, meant to serve as a general overview for language used throughout this document:
Equity- Equity is defined as a condition that would be achieved if one’s identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. This includes the elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race and/or other identities or fail to eliminate them.
Racism- Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices.
Racism = race prejudice + social and institutional power
Racism = a system of advantage based on race
Racism = a system of oppression based on race
Racism = a white supremacy system
SOURCE: “What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook
Structural Racism- The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.
SOURCE: Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change, and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, for the Race and Public Policy Conference (2004).
Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).
Anti-Racist – An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity.
SOURCE: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.
White Supremacy– The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever-present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.
SOURCE: “What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.
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