School boards make decisions that impact every aspect of a child’s education, yet few positions are less understood by the citizens who elect their members.

In Reading, Pennsylvania, the Berks County Community Foundation had a bold idea: to fund a nonpartisan voter education campaign aimed at explaining the importance of the local school board election, where an unprecedented six of nine seats were up for election.

Partnering with local nonprofit television station BCTV, SteegeThomson developed bilingual materials that presented the candidates and delivered messages on the importance of a strong school board. The materials ran in local print and radio media, and were supported with on-the-ground distribution, phone calls, and canvassing. We also encouraged a diverse group of local leaders to write their own op-eds and speak out on the importance of making informed decisions based on information provided by the candidates.

In addition to a spike in voter turnout, the community’s response to the unexpected campaign was overwhelmingly positive. “I saw this [supplement] in the paper,” said one Reading resident, “but I’m glad you brought me another one because I want to share it with my friends.”

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