CATEGORY: Advocacy, Families

Nakia Hall and Jillian Fain May 17, 2024

Spring Hill Day is not just an event; it's a powerful platform for charter school advocates to make their voices heard. This past month, Achievement First’s external relations leaders, Nakia Hall and Jillian Fain, joined over 100 advocates from charter schools across the country for three days of activism in our nation’s capital! They met with legislators about the issues that impact our schools and engaged with White House officials about keeping scholars safe in their schools and communities. Learn more about Hill Day's impact on them and how you can participate in this special event next year!

Settling Into Hill Day!

Nakia Hall (right)

Nakia Hall: Two things hit me as I exited Union Station in our nation’s capital: the incredible sunshine and the excitement of what the next three days would bring. Spending time and sharing space with charter school advocates from California, Chicago, and Louisiana, to name just a few, was inspirational and humbling. What did we all have in common? We want our schools to be safe, healthy, and well-resourced spaces for kids to grow and learn. We spent day one grounding ourselves in the work ahead of us, telling our stories, and making new friends. After a good night’s sleep, day two arrived, and Capitol Hill awaited us! I thought I might feel intimidated walking the hallowed halls of the many capitol buildings, but I felt a keen sense of empowerment instead. These buildings belong to the people, not only the elected officials, and so I made myself at home! I locked arms with my partner for the day and set out to meet with members of Congress. We asked for additional funding for charter schools, for more mental health professionals in our buildings, and to pass gun safety laws. To say it was a purposeful day is an understatement. It was advocacy in action.  On our last day, we had an opportunity to talk about our big day on the Hill, what moved us during our time together, and what we look forward to when returning to our schools. For me, this time in Washington, D.C., was an affirmation that I am doing exactly what I was meant to do, that there is power in numbers, and that the good fight continues!

The Impact of Family Engagement

Jillian Fain (second from furthest right)

Jillian Fain: In preparation for my third Hill Day, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share this experience with our charter school families. Achievement First has consistently participated in Hill Day Advocacy. Still, this year was extra special as we brought our parents, the real storytellers and cheerleaders, for the work we do in our schools every day.  When we arrived in Washington, our families had the opportunity to meet other parents exercising their right to school choice and be immersed in a space with like-minded advocates in their schools. The KIPP Foundation provided the most hands-on training for staff and families on what to expect when visiting members of Congress. Families were given the tools and confidence to immerse themselves in this experience with full preparation. The most enjoyable part of this experience was having the time and space to get to know our families more personally. I could hear firsthand the incredible work happening at our Achievement First schools and the experience our families have interacting with our schools.   Those of us who attended Rhode Island-based meetings at the Capitol had the privilege of meeting Representative Seth Magaziner and Representative Gabe Amo. Both could not have been more gracious in hosting us and being compelled by our families’ stories. There was a great back-and-forth conversation and mutual agreement on the need to continue the CSP funding. Both representatives also believe in providing stronger mental health services to families and working to ensure there are gun safety laws in place. Additionally, we had the pleasure of meeting with Senator Jack Reed and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's office staff, who assured us that these senators also advocate for mental health and gun safety laws.  Overall, this experience is one that we will treasure and will continue to inspire us to amplify our parents' voices as much as possible when speaking with important decision-makers. Families, your voice matters most. We hope this is the first of many Hill Days that we will bring families to attend, and we can’t wait to grow our presence in the coming years.  

Did this story inspire you to be an advocate for Achievement First or charter schools? To learn more, sign up to be an Achievement First parent advocate by filling out this brief Google form.

About the author

Nakia Hall and Jillian Fain

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