LightBox Collaborative was honored to partner with Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER), to help strengthen the work of public education advocates nationwide. Following is an excerpt from a report recently released to summarize the learnings of this innovative funder collaborative at its sunset, Building Capacity to Sustain Social Movements: Ten Lessons from the Communities for Public Education Reform Fund. Read the full report to learn more about how CPER invested in stronger organizations to build a stronger movement for public education reform. 

Over a period of seven years, Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER) operated as a funder collaborative engaging a highly diverse set of 76 local and national foundation members, raising close to $34 million and investing nationally in 140 community groups and advocacy allies in national coalitions and in six target sites of varying scale (California, Chicago, Colorado, Mississippi, New Jersey and Philadelphia). These groups, in turn, played a key role in achieving over 90 policy wins at the school, district, state and federal level.

To help groups achieve their goals and use their resources more effectively, CPER engaged LightBox Collaborative, an organizing-savvy capacity provider with expertise in strategic communications. LightBox provided diverse supports attuned to grantees’ needs.

California CPER grantees solicited extensive communications capacity services to support their campaign for a ballot initiative (Proposition 30) that would generate additional revenue for education by raising taxes on California’s wealthiest residents. To help groups effectively counter public resistance to increased taxation, LightBox provided extensive coaching to grantee staff and community leaders, and conducted more than a dozen, in-depth trainings on strategic campaign and communications planning, storytelling, messaging, and framing. As a result, grantees enhanced their ability to frame messages around voters’ values, get powerful stories covered through diverse news outlets, and greatly expand social media work. Their increased communications capacity contributed directly to a huge victory: California grantees and their allies succeeded in passing Proposition 30 in 2012. The ballot win yielded an additional $3 billion for public education in FY 2013 alone.

With LightBox’s assistance, CPER grantees better defined their goals and refined their campaign messaging and implementation.

 Image credit: NEO Philanthropy 

amanda Amanda Cooper, LightBox Collaborative partner, has spent much of her career helping nonprofit organizations build stronger communications into their advocacy efforts and service programs.