AFT Powerful Partnerships Institute

The AFT’s Powerful Partnerships Institute provides $1.5 million of direct assistance to AFT affiliates, parent groups and community organizations to do grass-roots engagement work in local communities focused on helping kids recover and thrive. 

This program is a commitment made by the AFT as part of its What Kids and Communities Need campaign—an initiative that focuses on making investments in public schools and communities to make sure students have the essentials they need to recover and thrive. The Powerful Partnerships Institute grants aim to support community engagement by helping parents and teachers find new ways to work together for the benefit of students and neighborhoods.

The Powerful Partnerships Institute will:

  1. Build capacity by giving AFT affiliates more tools and resources to do the community work that they want to do and that they know works. This includes going door to door, organizing weekly meetings and running local campaigns. All these efforts are designed specifically to engage parents and community members in their area on issues that have an impact on their children and communities.
  2. Provide training that meets the needs of AFT affiliates and community organizations and supports the achievement of shared campaign goals.
  3. Increase collaboration among AFT affiliates and community organizations so they can share best practices, tackle tough issues and create measurable change together.
  4. Create intersectional campaigns that address racial, economic, gender and climate justice and improve the lives of our members, students, families and communities.

Powerful Partnership Institute grants

  • 27 PPI grants have been awarded to AFT state and local affiliates across 16 states.
  • A total of $1,545,000 has been awarded.
  • Grants awarded range from $25,000 to $75,000.

AFT Affiliate

Community Partners

Snapshot of Initiative

New Haven Federation of Teachers (Conn.)

Recovery for All Connecticut (largest community-union table in state)

Students for Educational Justice

New Haven will engage educators, families and students to advocate for increased state revenue and equitable school funding to address the teacher shortage and expand supports for community schools.

AFT Massachusetts

Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance

(well-established statewide alliance of eight local union-community networks, outside of Boston)

Massachusetts will advocate to pass legislation that addresses state takeovers of school districts and that will grow more union-community networks.

Boston Teachers Union

Boston Education Justice Alliance

(powerful education justice alliance of parent and youth organizations and the Boston Teachers Union)

Boston will implement educational improvements that are possible thanks to new ESSER/American Rescue Plan funds, increase parent and community voices in debates about school mergers and closures, and advance efforts to shift to an elected (rather than mayor-appointed) school committee.

Baltimore Teachers Union

Baltimore AROS

(citywide alliance that includes Maryland Communities United, Organizing Black and others)

Baltimore will build and expand the network of educators, students and parents working to ensure schools are emotionally, physically, culturally and academically thriving; to limit class size; and to organize to fund fully all Baltimore schools.

United Federation of Teachers (New York City)

Many partners

(NAACP, Labor-Religion Coalition, Alliance for Quality Education, and other civil rights, interfaith and education justice organizations)

New York City will advance project-based learning and move away from standardized testing.

United University Professions (N.Y.)

Many partners

(community groups focused on environmental and racial justice issues)

New York will listen to UUP and community members, form coalitions and campaign together on mutually agreed upon issues.

Professional Staff Congress (N.Y.)

CUNY Rising Alliance

(CUNY Student Senate, NYPIRG, New York Communities for Change, North Star Foundation, Hispanic Federation, Young Invincibles and more)

New York City will advance the priorities of a New Deal for CUNY, including making CUNY tuition-free, improving the ratio of faculty to students, increasing compensation for adjunct professors and expanding mental health support for all CUNY community members.

Yonkers Federation of Teachers and Mount Vernon Federation of Teachers (N.Y.)

Local PTAs

(Parent Teacher Associations)

Yonkers and Mount Vernon will listen to educators, students, parents and community members; take action on the issues raised; and increase the number and diversity of union members and parents involved in these actions.

Nashua Teachers’ Union (N.H.)

Rights & Democracy N.H.

(multi-issue, statewide community organization)

Nashua will advance efforts to teach honest history and engage more educators, parents, students and community members in state-level efforts to advance education equity.

Detroit Federation of Teachers and AFT Michigan

Michigan Education Justice Coalition

(statewide network of dozens of organizations, anchored by 482Forward in Detroit)

Detroit will advocate for community-led ESSER funding priorities, increase educator democracy in schools, expand trainings and forums for school board candidates, and support families and students.

Cincinnati Federation of Teachers

Cincinnati Education Justice Coalition

(coalition of Cincinnati NAACP, Action Think Tank, Cincinnati Interfaith Committee, Cincinnati Labor Council and more)

Cincinnati will organize teachers, students and parents to increase local revenue for education, stop school voucher expansion and push back against other efforts to privatize schools.

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers

Tending the Soil

(multi-issue coalition of labor and community groups)

Minneapolis will develop educator-parent tables at the school and district levels and increase community voices in debates on student enrollment and school closures.

Peoria Federation of Teachers (Ill.)

Peoria People’s Project

(grass-roots parent-community coalition)

Peoria will build on existing coalition work to push for equitable school funding, more social-emotional supports in classrooms, increased resources for community schools, and more support for career and technical education.

Great Lakes Fast Fund Consortium

AFT Local 212, Milwaukee Area Technical College; University Professionals of Illinois; Cook County College Teachers Union (Chicago)

Believe in Students

(nationwide organization that supports distribution of Faculty and Students Together [FAST] emergency aid funds for college students)

Milwaukee and other Midwest cities will use faculty-run emergency aid funds to build relationships with students, educators and community members; train them on organizing skills; and build local campaigns for collectively identified campus issues.

Chicago Teachers Union

Brighton Park Neighborhood Council

(and many other environmental, parent and labor organizations)

Chicago will add capacity to its parent-educator table in order to increase community voice on issues such as preventing school closures, expanding community schools and advocating for an elected school board.

AFT Washington

Alliance for a Just Society (existing convener organization and anchor partner) and additional student, immigrant and labor organizations

Washington will advance its Communities for Our Colleges campaign, including legislation that will increase faculty compensation and diversity in the state’s community colleges.

United Teachers Los Angeles

Reclaim Our Schools LA (anchor parent-community organization), Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Students Deserve and other groups

Los Angeles will strengthen relationships between parents and educators to implement its post-pandemic Beyond Recovery platform, including fully staffed classrooms, equitable access to technology, and green, healthy, safe school facilities.

United Educators of San Francisco

Close the Gap

(community coalition of strong parent-engagement groups like Coleman Advocates, Faith in Action, Chinese Progressive Association and more)

San Francisco will expand its base of parent, student and member leaders in order to increase the number and diversity of voices advocating and organizing for public education and common-good issues, such as affordable and stable housing for public school families and staff.

Houston Federation of Teachers

Community Voices for Public Education (grass-roots group that has been building a strong in-person and online base of parents and community members)

Houston teachers, parents and community members will organize on issues of common concern, including reducing reliance on standardized testing, supporting honest history curriculums, interrupting privatization of public schools and winning equitable school funding.

Houston Educational Support Personnel

Urban League, Legends and Legacies Houston, Sunnyside Housing Development Network and other community organizations

Houston paraprofessionals and allies will recruit, train and support new leaders to improve neighborhoods where public school staff and families live and work by expanding the availability of healthy food, increasing access to elected leaders, and boosting the voices of parents and grandparents on issues of concern.

Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers (Texas)

Garcia Arts and Education Center, Texas Human Rights, Transgender Alliance, NAACP and other organizations

Corpus Christi will develop a community-labor coalition, in order to advance the teaching of honest history, protections for LGBTQIA+ students and recognition of student voice in key education decisions.

Montana Federation of Public Employees

Montanans Organized for Education

Montana will recruit and train educators, families and students to increase participation in school board meetings, ensure civility in public debate about public education and push back against school privatization efforts.

San Antonio Alliance, Local 67

Our Schools Coalition (including Texas MOVE, Esperanza Center, Texas AFL-CIO and other groups)

San Antonio will grow the number and talent of educators, parents, students and community members who organize for education equity, in order to win full funding for schools and increase parent voice on key decision-making bodies.

McAllen AFT (Texas)

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE),

Boys and Girls Club and other local groups

McAllen will establish a new community-union table; engage students, parents and other stakeholders to identify issues of common concern; and build a citywide education justice platform.

United Teachers of Dade (Fla.)

Florida Rising, Equality Florida, PS305, Power U and other groups

Miami will develop and expand teacher, parent and student leadership to advocate for equitable school funding, protections for LGBTQIA+ students and educators, and resistance to book-banning efforts.

Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association (Fla.)

Mi Familia Vota, St. Pete for Change, Acesso Latino, Hope Community Center and other partner groups

Pinellas will establish a new community-union table; engage students, parents and other stakeholders to identify issues of common concern; and build a countywide education justice platform.

Norfolk Federation of Teachers (Va.)

Virginia New Majority

(a strong, statewide, multi-issue community group)

Norfolk will build power to win affordable housing for public school families, increase community voice in the upcoming school board elections and build support for teaching honest history.