San Francisco, CA—Common Sense Kids Action today announced its launch and initial funding of more than $20 million to support groundbreaking advocacy efforts to make kids and education America’s top priority. Common Sense Kids Action will work with policymakers, business leaders and other advocates in California, Washington, D.C. and across the nation to advance legislation and advocacy efforts to help ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in the 21st Century.
Common Sense Kids Action builds upon the existing work and platforms of its parent organization, Common Sense Media, a leading national nonprofit with exceptional reach into the parent and teacher community and over a decade of experience helping all kids, families and educators thrive in a world of media and technology.
With Common Sense Kids Action, Common Sense Media is greatly expanding its national and multi-state advocacy efforts to create an AARP-style organization with millions of advocates across the country building a powerful, nonpartisan voice dedicated to making kids and education our nation’s top priority.
“We have a simple mission: to make kids and education the nation’s top priority,” said James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense. “To ensure America remains the world’s economic leader, we must invest in the education, health and overall well-being kids need to succeed.”
“This begins with making sure that every American child has the right start in life and access to quality early education opportunities,” Steyer said. “It means we must wire every classroom and every home for high-quality broadband so that all teachers and parents have the technology tools they need to improve learning and get kids focused on college and career. And it means ensuring all kids are held to high standards that reflect the complex demands of the world they are going to inherit. Common Sense Kids Action is working to ensure that no decision is made in this country without thinking about children and their education first.”
With over 65 million Common Sense Media users and 200,000 educators using the Common Sense Education platform, the introduction of an expanded grassroots advocacy apparatus through Common Sense Kids Action will allow on-the-ground engagement of millions of parents and teachers with the power to drive advocacy and organizing in all 50 states in an effort to prepare kids for the 21st Century.
Common Sense Kids Action’s expanded advocacy and outreach platform is backed by contributions from some of the nation’s foremost leaders in education and children’s wellbeing, including:
- Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne, who have contributed significantly to early childhood efforts in California and around the nation.
- TPG Capital Co-Founder Bill Price and his wife Eva, who have contributed to critical K-12 education advocacy efforts in California and across the nation.
- Emerson Collective, which works with a range of partners to improve our nation’s schools, especially for disadvantaged students.
- Advanced Energy Advocates and Philanthropists Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor, who have been leaders on environmental education, and advocates for clean energy job creation in California and across the nation.
- Television Producer and Emmy Award winner Marcy Carsey, who has been a strong advocate of public education in California.
Common Sense Kids Action will promote access to high-quality digital learning experiences with well-trained teachers; ensure all kids are able to harness the power of technology, while also keeping their personal information private and protected; advocate for access for all children to high-quality early education and early childhood services; and fight to reduce the highest rate of childhood poverty in 40 years.
The 2015 rollout will focus on legislative and political activities in California, Washington, D.C. and over a dozen states across the country in four key issue areas: early childhood; education and technology; child poverty and social mobility, and; online privacy and safety. Activities will include:
- A California First agenda: With policy adopted in California often taken up federally and by other states, the 2015 California agenda will include the launch of a state-based ConnectED program and advocacy for legislation including: a geolocation bill to protect student privacy; efforts to improve early childhood services; children’s health issues (including nutrition and access to affordable health care), and improving California’s curriculum to focus on career technical education, workforce development and teacher training.
- Multi-state Advocacy for Kids and Education- LILY: The policies that succeed in the California legislature and other states where Common Sense Kids Action works will be fast-tracked through other states through the creation of LILY – Let’s Invest Large in Youth, a policy franchising apparatus focused on furthering policies affecting kids and education. LILY has already influenced groundbreaking student privacy legislation in twelve states, and Common Sense Kids Action is working on a bill in Congress as well, modeled on California’s Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA) that Common Sense Media helped to pass last year.
- Early Childhood – The Right Start Commission: The launch of the Right Start Commission to improve early childhood services in California will bring together leaders in education, business, and public policy to craft a viable path forward. The commission will create an early childhood blueprint for California and serve as a model framework for states around the country. The full announcement of the Commission and its members will be made in May 2015.
- Career Technical Education/Workforce Development: To ensure more students graduate with the skills they will need to succeed in careers and college, Common Sense Kids Action will advocate for an expansion of career pathway programs tied to the workforce development needs of the school’s local region. Common Sense Kids Action will pioneer a hands-on curriculum that’s relevant to career interests so that students become more engaged and less likely to drop out of school.
- Environmental Education: Common Sense Kids Action believes the environment should be a key element of a successful 21st Century curriculum – it is where the jobs are. We will build upon pioneering efforts in states like California and New York to enhance students’ access to learning opportunities about science, which explains humanity’s impact on the environment and our ability to sustain the planet. We will advocate for more states to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards and for the development of online, bilingual resources that are focused on climate change and environmental justice.
Common Sense Kids Action will be led by James P. Steyer, a nationally renowned expert and entrepreneur on issues related to children’s media and education in the United States. He is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Common Sense Media and the Co-Founder and Chairman of Next Generation. He was founder and CEO of Children Now in the 1980s and 1990s. And Mr. Steyer is also a nationally known author and award-winning professor at Stanford University.
Common Sense Kids Action will be managed by a staff of policy, political and communications experts in education that come to Common Sense Kids Action from key and powerful positions in state and national government, and an advisory board of thought leaders from across the country. The Common Sense Kids Action Advisory Board will draw upon the knowledge and expertise of political and communications experts on both sides of the political aisle including Nadine Burke Harris, Mark McKinnon, Mike McCurry, Angela Glover Blackwell, Steve Schmidt, and Joel Benenson.
About Common Sense Kids Action
Common Sense Kids Action is an independent, non-partisan and powerful voice whose mission is to make kids and education America’s top priority. Common Sense Kids Action works with national and state leaders to advance policies that help ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed in the 21st century. Common Sense Kids Action has committed to advancing a 21st Century Kids and Education agenda—an agenda that includes ensuring that all children 0-5 have access to vital health and education resources, advancing 21st century learning, alleviating the damaging effects of poverty, and protecting children’s online privacy. Learn more at the Common Sense Kids Action website.