State Policy Network
The 2022 Communications Excellence Awards recognize state think tanks using strategic communications to improve K-12 education and increase education choices for American families

State Policy Network is pleased to announce the Commonwealth Foundation, Goldwater Institute, and Pacific Research Institute (PRI) are the 2022 Communications Excellence Award winners. SPN’s Communications Excellence Awards recognize exceptional state think tank achievements in connecting with audiences and spreading good policy ideas through communications, marketing, and media.

Presented at a special reception at State Policy Network’s 30th Annual Meeting, the winners were recognized for boldly boosting their brand, telling powerful stories, and expanding their audience.

This year’s award-winning campaigns all touched on improving education options and increasing school choice for students and their families—an important issue for millions of Americans, especially after the pandemic revealed the many problems with our country’s education system.

Learn more below about the innovative communications strategies Commonwealth, Goldwater, and PRI pursued to advance policies that improve the lives of the people in their communities.

2022 Bold Brand Boost Award: Pacific Research Institute exposes the impact of failed California policies while advancing alternative solutions and increased choice for families

What do research into environmental regulations and homeschooling have in common? They’re two of the many ways that the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) worked to boost their brand in 2022. As California leads the nation on misguided policy, Pacific Research Institute continues to demonstrate just how harmful these policies can be. PRI’s research into the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), for example, revealed that the Act, although well-intentioned, increases costs while delaying development on everything from housing and infrastructure to environmental restoration and even schools. Similar research into the harms of big government policies led PRI scholar Lance Izumi to publish a new book, The Homeschool BoomThis book details how the fundamental flaws in California school systems became clear to parents whose kids were learning from home. Izumi explores the types of policies California can adopt to support the growing number of parents deciding to opt out of those systems all together. Both their CEQA research and The Homeschool Boom earned significant media attention across the state and positioned PRI as a solution-oriented resource for California residents.

2022 Expanding Your Audience Award: Commonwealth Foundation brings new communities into the education choice movement

The Commonwealth Foundation (CF) launched the Educational Opportunity Project to advance parental choice in Pennsylvania. Notably, Commonwealth communicated with new audiences about the growing need to give families and students better education options, especially in poorly performing school districts. CF hired David Hardy, cofounder of Boys’ Latin School of Philadelphia, as a Distinguished Fellow to rally support in the Philadelphia area for educational opportunity and bring the African American community into the campaign to advance school choice. Hardy targeted parents, teachers, advocates, local community leaders, and elected officials who care deeply about education quality but have not been engaged in school choice issues. Because of CF’s targeted outreach, CF was able to activate their expanded audience of advocates to encourage lawmakers to pass the state’s Lifeline Scholarship Program along bipartisan lines. The program gives students in low-performing school districts state funds to pay for education-related materials, including tuition, to attend another school.

2022 Powerful Storytelling Award: Goldwater Institute shares teacher’s plight with curriculum to advance academic transparency nationwide

The Goldwater Institute told the story of Kali Fontanilla, a high school English language teacher from California who exposed the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in her public school, including concrete evidence of the curriculum. She faced discrimination as a result and moved to Florida to continue practicing her profession. Kali, a black woman, strongly opposes CRT because she believes it is contrary to America’s founding principles. By telling Kali’s story, Goldwater drew attention to the realities of CRT in schools and earned coverage in media outlets across the nation. The campaign helped establish Goldwater’s Academic Transparency legislation as a national standard. The legislation establishes parents’ right to know what is being taught in public schools by requiring those schools to post on a publicly accessible portion of their website a listing of the specific learning materials used at each institution.

About the SPN Communications Excellence Awards

This opportunity is open to current SPN state think tank affiliate members only. All affiliate members are invited to nominate their work in one or more categories. Category finalists are chosen by a selection committee, and the winners are determined by a public vote. Learn more about the awards here.

Organization: State Policy Network