August 24, 2016
This week, we’re talking with Mike Klein about creating grassroots programs that can affect real change for students. Mike is a former member of the New Albany Schools School Board and the creator of the grassroots movement, Eagle Pride Victory Club.
Cuts and Costs Affecting the Middle
After Draconian cuts in the community where Mike was serving on the school board, they came to see that that students in the middle were the ones missing out on co-curricular activities. Affluent students were able to participate and students at the bottom on free and reduced lunch, were able to use scholarships and awards to participate, but students in the middle were left with little options. Pay hikes to participate in sports saw drastic drops in numbers with students unable to participate. By extension through research, they found students who don’t participate or have barriers to participate in co-curricular activities are less successful academically, experience higher rates of suicide and depression and ultimately are less likely to thrive both in and outside of the school environment.
Eagle Pride Victory Club
After leaving the school board, Mike started the Eagle Pride Victory Club, a grassroots effort to reduce the fees to participate in sports, to help those students in the middle. Starting on Change.org with a petition, a social media campaign, using Youtube and local media outlets, they began to engage with the community about these issues facing the students in their school district. Social media is the single best way to shape your cause, grassroots or just to communicate information about your district to the community.
Know the System, Know the Players
Before starting any grassroots movement, understanding the system and the players is key. Without this knowledge, you can only get so far. Shaking the tree will not get you change. Knowing the players and system paired with a following of people will get you change. Information and people will affect change and lobby people to listen.
At the end of the day, you have to do your homework. When you have the power of data behind you, you will have be able to entice the players to listen and eventually affect change. Additionally, pairing that data with the knowledge of the players and system and a powerful base behind you, you cannot be ignored.
Working together for EVERY student
The Eagle Pride Victory Club seeks to celebrate all students involved in co-curricular activities. The opposition may want to cut deeper when they see the ability of groups like the Eagle Pride VC to raise funds to defray the costs, but working with the administration, and not just offsetting the cost through fundraising and donations, they are seeking to partner and look at every student on a case by case basis, helping every student who wants to participate the ability to participate.