National PTA to Fund $1.5M to PTAs Across the Country to Support School Communities During COVID-19 Crisis

National PTA announced today that $1.5M in grants will be awarded to PTAs across the country to help meet critical needs of students, families, teachers and schools due to COVID-19. The funding is made possible by PTA Proud National Sponsors TikTok, Google, Bayer Fund, Mathnasium and Life360.

“COVID-19 has presented many challenges for families and schools. Now more than ever, PTAs nationwide are working hard to ensure our students, families and educators are safe, healthy and have what they need—focusing on social and emotional wellbeing, resources for distance teaching and learning, bridging the digital divide and addressing food insecurity,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA.

When most U.S. schools closed due to the pandemic, over 70 PTA grant recipients were scheduled to host sponsored family night programs, ranging from science festivals and math nights to Be Internet Awesome events.

“All of our sponsors impacted by this situation agreed to allow the grant money to be repurposed to meet immediate needs created by COVID-19. These companies really stepped up, and with this money, these PTAs will be able to make even more of a difference for their school communities during this time,” added Boggs.

Collectively between TikTok, Google, Bayer Fund, Mathnasium and Life360, over $160,000 in sponsored program grants is being redirected immediately to address critical community needs.

Google, a founding sponsor of National PTA’s PTA Connected initiative, was the first to agree to this pivot and also had the largest amount of grants pending in the field.

In addition to the grant money, TikTok has named National PTA as a beneficiary of its Community Relief Fund, donating $2M to the association. A significant portion of this funding will be granted in phases to district, council, region and local PTAs, with an application opening June 1.

“We understand the importance of continuing educational success for students who are physically away from the classroom and have been inspired to see students and teachers connecting on TikTok. We are grateful to our educators and the PTA for supporting critical K-12 programs for distance learning as well as addressing food insecurity, and hope our donation towards these needs will provide some relief to the families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Eric Ebenstein, director of public policy at TikTok.

As another part of TikTok’s Community Relief Fund effort, May 5—which coincides with Teacher Appreciation Week and the global #GivingTuesdayNow campaign—TikTok will be celebrating the critical work of educators and PTAs, including hosting livestreams with TikTok creators and encouraging donations by TikTok users to National PTA. The company has pledged to match up to $10M in donations by TikTok users to National PTA and a handful of other chosen beneficiaries through May 27.

National PTA has also kicked off a “family video challenge” on the TikTok app to encourage families to show how they are learning during this time of school closures using the hashtag #AlwaysLearning and apply TikTok’s new Donation Sticker to their videos to allow viewers to make donations to the association within the TikTok app.

In addition to providing the funding to PTAs and school communities, National PTA launched a comprehensive webpage at PTA.org/COVID-19 with resources, tools and information to support families and educators amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The association has also focused several episodes of its Notes from the Backpack podcast on topics of concern for families due to COVID-19. Further, National PTA has been advocating for access and support for families and schools for online learning, access to school meals, funding for family engagement, and fiscal and policy relief for state and local education agencies.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on families and our nation’s education system,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “National PTA and PTAs across the country remain committed to supporting and advocating for students, families, schools and communities in this time of crisis.”


National PTA Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a rapidly evolving public health situation. State and local PTAs must follow the direction and guidance of their respective health and education departments.

In order to assist and support the most vulnerable children and families, PTAs should reach out to their local school districts and departments of health to determine high-need areas and collaborate with community groups—such as food pantries—to provide essential services and support.

We have compiled a number of resources for our community to use to help navigate the pandemic.

How do I talk to my child about the Coronavirus?

Children, as well as adults, are likely to experience anxiety in this uncertain time. Several resources have been created by leading mental health experts on how to have age-appropriate, fact-based and reassuring conversations with you children about the outbreak and the steps they can take to stay healthy.

How to Talk to Your Child about the Coronavirus, Kids Health

Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource, National Association of School Psychologists

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Where can I go for information on the Coronavirus and its impact on education and children?

There are several resources available for parents about the Coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has resources to assist education leaders in protecting student privacy and ensuring students with disabilities continue to receive services required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) during school closures due to the outbreak.

The ED also released important information for K-12 educators on flexibilities the Department could grant when it comes to the accountability standards required by law under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). We particularly recommend reviewing COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional guidance and further resources, including:

Colorín Colorado is a good resource for English Language Learners and their families, as well as educators. We particularly want to call attention to their Multilingual Coronavirus Resources for Schools.

What if I do not have internet access in my home? What is being done to support equitable access to the internet for student learning?

Several internet providers have announced that they will make their services available for free for households with K-12 and/or college students who don’t already have internet through the company. Further installation fees may also be waived for new student households. Please contact your local internet provider for additional information.

National PTA has joined several other education groups in calling for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to temporarily allow schools to utilize E-Rate program funding to provide Wi-Fi hotspots or devices with Wi-Fi capability to students who lack internet access at home. This action would help ensure that all students can remotely continue their education during the current public health emergency.

The coronavirus pandemic is shining a bright light on the so-called “homework gap” experienced by 12 million students in this country. The gap refers to those students who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework—at a time when over 70% of educators assign schoolwork that requires the internet.

As a parent, how can I support learning at home?

Recognizing that not all families or children will have the resources to access and leverage digital learning opportunities, PTAs should work with their local school and district to understand what plans are in place or are being developed to equitably support student learning during school closures. PTAs can (and should!) work with schools to help develop student learning plans during school closures and help communicate these plans to families.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), has developed 10 Strategies for Online Learning During Coronavirus Outbreak. The Today Show has curated some free educational activities that students and families can engage in here.

What is being done to ensure vulnerable youth have access to school meals?

Nearly 22 million students depend on subsidized breakfasts and lunches served at schools. All Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs—including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs—have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow them to respond to on-the-ground realities in the event of a disaster or emergency situation. You can view the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Response to COVID-19 here.

PTAs should connect with their local schools and district to learn about the plans for meal distribution and how best to support and promote those efforts. Members of Congress have introduced bipartisan legislation, COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act to protect students’ access to school meal benefits during school closures related to COVID-19.

What legislative action is Congress taking regarding the Coronavirus?

Legislation is currently pending in Congress. Specifically, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.

Additionally, members of Congress have introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act (H.R. 6275) which will provide needed resources to early childhood programs, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. The legislation will provide $3 billion dollars in grants to provide support services to students, including mental health and technology and funding to clean school facilities.

You can write to your elected officials about these and other bills using our Take Action Network.

What if I have concerns about end-of-year state testing?

The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance on assessments and accountability. The Department of Education generally does not grant statewide waivers of assessment requirements under section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.

However, due to the unique circumstances that may arise as a result of COVID-19, such as a school closing during the entire testing window, it may not be feasible for a State to administer some or all of its assessments, in which case the Department would consider a targeted one-year waiver of the assessment requirements for those schools impacted by the extraordinary circumstances.

States with schools that must close due to the COVID-19 may also want to consider whether it is possible to adjust or extend the testing window to accommodate as many students as possible, including students in schools that were closed for some period. Please contact your state PTA and/or our SEA with questions about testing in your state.

What type of consideration should be taken regarding the 2020 National PTA Convention & Expo?

National PTA continues to closely monitor all developments and restrictions created by the spread of COVID-19 and the impacts on our June 2020 Convention.

We have extended early-bird registration to April 20 and we will communicate any convention-related decisions to our membership in a timely manner.

Learn more about the event at PTA.org/Convention.


National PTA Honors Senator Lamar Alexander and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro with Congressional Voice for Children Award

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (March 11, 2020)—National PTA is pleased to recognize Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) with its 2020 Congressional Voice for Children Award. The award honors outstanding leadership and commitment to taking action on issues that affect the education, health, safety, well-being and long-term success of America’s children. Senator Alexander and Congresswoman DeLauro will be presented with the award during the association’s 2020 Legislative Conference.

“Senator Alexander and Congresswoman DeLauro have advanced and supported important legislation that makes a difference for the education and long-term success of every child,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “We thank them for their leadership and commitment to taking action for our nation’s children. We are pleased to honor them with our 2020 Congressional Voice for Children Award during our legislative conference.”

Senator Alexander was elected to the United States Senate in 2002. He currently serves as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and also serves on the Senate Appropriations, Energy and Natural Resources, and Rules and Administration Committees. Senator Alexander has had a long and distinguished career in education, which includes playing an integral role in the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which contains several laudable family engagement provisions such as the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program. Prior to his tenure in the Senate, Senator Alexander served as secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

“Over the last 120 years, PTA has made a lasting, positive impact on our children and their schools. Here’s just one example—PTA was a great partner when Congress worked to pass ESSA, which fixed No Child Left Behind and helped put parents and teachers back in the driver’s seat to help determine their children’s educational experience,” said Senator Alexander. “When President Barack Obama signed ESSA into law on Dec. 10, 2015, he called it a ‘Christmas miracle.’ So, I’m grateful to be recognized by this association that has made such an important impact on our children, and I know will continue to for generations to come.”

Congresswoman DeLauro was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1991. She currently serves as chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, overseeing our nation’s investments in education and child well-being programs. Congresswoman DeLauro has been a constant advocate for children and families and played an integral role in securing $15 million for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program in the FY20 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives. She has also led efforts and secured increases for elementary and secondary education, demonstrating her commitment to ensuring every child is able to reach their full potential.

“Day in and day out, National PTA supports families, public education and the well-being of children across the country,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “Your commitment and dedication cannot be questioned, and our thanks can never repay you for preparing our kids for the road ahead of them. As Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Education, I was proud to secure funding for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program in last year’s appropriations bill. The SFEC program helps bring kids’ families into the fold to benefit our youngsters’ development and education, as well as provide professional development in that same vein—and I am proud to support it. Thank you for your recognition, which I take not just as appreciation for past efforts, but as a call to keep working. And I will—you have my word.”

“Senator Alexander and Congresswoman DeLauro have worked diligently to ensure family engagement in education is prioritized, recognizing that this is just as important to children’s success as having a great principal and teachers, a strong curriculum and a positive school climate,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “We commend them for their efforts, leadership and commitment. They are true voices for our nation’s children and families.”

Every year, the National PTA Legislative Conference brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country to take united action on the association’s advocacy priorities.

During the 2020 conference—themed “PTA Takes Action for Kids”—attendees will hear from speakers and participate in workshops to expand their knowledge of federal law and grow their advocacy skills. Attendees will also amplify their voices by meeting with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 11.


PTAs Nationwide to Encourage Family Engagement in Education During Take Your Family to School Week

PTAs across the country will host a variety of events and activities Feb. 16-23 to bring families into schools as part of National PTA’s Take Your Family to School Week.

“For over 120 years, PTA has been encouraging families to get more involved in their child’s education as family engagement is proven to positively impact student achievement and school performance,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “Take Your Family to School Week is designed to provide families with an opportunity to visit their child’s school, explore what and how their child is learning, and strengthen their partnerships with teachers and administrators.”

 As part of Take Your Family to School Week, 15 local PTAs were awarded a $1,000 grant to host family engagement events in National PTA program areas including health and safety, literacy, digital learning and STEM. The grants were made possible by support from PTA Proud National Sponsor Office Depot.

Throughout the week, National PTA will share resources to help parents support their child’s success and PTA leaders make their family engagement work more inclusive, individualized, integrated and impactful. Among the resources, National PTA will share episodes of its Notes from the Backpack podcast, which features conversations with real parents, experts and educators who offer advice, ideas and strategies parents can use to help their child succeed in and out of school.

The timing of Take Your Family to School Week honors the day PTA was founded, Feb. 17, 1897. This year, it also marks the start of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the merging of the association’s two founding parent groups—the National Congress of Parents and Teachers and the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers.

“In 1970, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers and the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers signed a Declaration of Unification and officially became one association,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA Executive Director. “The Declaration of Unification is an important part of PTA’s history, legacy and continued efforts to make a difference for the education, health, safety and well-being of every child.”

Listen to a video message from President Boggs on the 50th anniversary of the unification of the two congresses on National PTA’s Facebook page.

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.