A Voice in the Media: Sandra Eagle
As kids in the United States were returning to school from holiday break in January of 2014, a staggering 58 million children worldwide had never set foot in a classroom in the first place.
Through her own work with marginalized kids in Connecticut, RESULTS volunteer Sandra Eagle knew the transformative impact of a quality education. Inspired by the successful media work of her fellow volunteers, she also knew that media was a powerful tool for change. So in 2014 she resolved to make her voice heard in the media on issues that matter — starting with education.
Nationwide, RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund had just launched a media and advocacy campaign for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which supports the world’s poorest countries to provide quality education to even the most vulnerable children. In June, the Global Partnership would invite developing country governments as well as donors like the United States to make financial commitments to move the world closer to getting every child into school.
With the chance to help support education for millions of kids around the world, Sandra got to work.
She scanned the news for related issues. She and her group brainstormed local angles. She began sending in letters to the editor. She wrote and re-wrote opeds. She started calling the newsrooms and editors of local papers. When an education advocate from Ethiopia, Selamawit Bekele, partnered with RESULTS Educational Fund for a nationwide speaking tour, Sandra and her group jumped at the chance to host. Together they met with the editorial page editor of the local paper.
Soon after, media in Connecticut followed: first a letter to the editor, then an op-ed, then an editorial — all calling for U.S. support for global education.
“It took a village,” said Sandra, with the local chapter of volunteers working together as motivators, writers, and editors. And that village extended far beyond Connecticut: spread across every region of the country, RESULTS advocates secured over 100 pieces of media calling for an ambitious U.S. investment in the Global Partnership for Education.
Advocates then used their media to help convince more than one fifth of the U.S. Congress, including Sandra’s representative, to support the Global Partnership. And the full compilation of media — well over an inch thick — landed on the desks of the Obama Administration officials charged with making the U.S. pledge.
In the end, the United States more than doubled its historical annual commitment to the Global Partnership for Education, investing $40 million in fiscal year 2014 and pledging $50 million for fiscal year 2015. While the total dollar amount fell short of the ambitious target set by RESULTS, it marked a step change in the U.S. commitment. And diligent advocacy by RESULTS affiliates in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom helped secure more than one third of the total funding pledged by donors.
Supporting the Global Partnership for Education was just the beginning of Sandra and the Connecticut group’s media success. By year end, this group of just five dedicated volunteers had their names in print 21 times in seven different papers, on issues ranging from U.S. tax policy to global access to lifesaving vaccines. And together they worked with the local editorial page editor to generate powerful pieces published in five different states.
Sandra says the impact of the media — which isn’t slowing down — goes even further.
“It’s way beyond getting something in the paper. It’s about finding my voice,” she says. “It’s part of becoming who I’m meant to be.”