Solutions Not Suspensions campaign
Schott Foundation for Public Education
Spitfire worked with the Schott Foundation for Public Education on its effort to end out-of-school suspensions. Every year, 3.3 million students in the U.S. are suspended, missing critical learning time as well as opportunities to grow and succeed. Schott wanted to engage the national media and expose the problem while building support for viable alternatives that keep students in school and learning.
Spitfire worked closely with the program staff of the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn campaign and members of the Dignity in Schools coalition. Together, we developed and launched Solutions Not Suspensions, an initiative calling for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions. Spitfire created the program name and brand and developed a national media strategy to highlight the negative impact of suspensions, particularly for Black and Latinx students and students with disabilities, and to promote alternative disciplinary solutions.
The media strategy outlined goals, audience targets, media markets and tactics to maximize impact. Spitfire also created a core brand identity and message platform tailored to audience targets, including national education associations, school superintendents, teachers, administrators and parents in markets like Atlanta and Washington D.C., which had high suspension rates. Spitfire worked with the group to integrate these core messages into all outreach activities. This included developing or updating a variety of materials including talking points, pitch notes, press releases, fact sheets and website content. In addition, Spitfire conducted extensive research to shape our media pitch strategy and created a target list of reporters for tailored pitches. We led the media outreach for a Solutions Not Suspensions launch event in Los Angeles, including a teleconference for national media targets.
Our comprehensive approach led to significant coverage, including popular mainstream publications such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Huffington Post; important, niche education trade magazines and education association blogs like Education Week and Learning First Alliance. The majority of coverage included powerful sound bites from initiative spokespeople and direct pick-ups from the press release or message platform. Spitfire also coordinated statements of support for the initiative from both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). AFT and NEA posted the statements on their websites which led to additional national media coverage.