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Case Study

How the National Education Association advocated for our nation’s educators in light of COVID-19

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The National Education Association (NEA) is made up of 3 million members who work in every level of education. The NEA works to champion justice and excellence in public education by influencing legislation and working with top leaders to foster change.

The challenge

With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the United States, educators have been left wondering whether or not it is safe for their classes to return in the fall. There were few answers from the Department of Education and other leaders about what safety procedures would be put in place. COVID-19 also impacted education funding, unemployment insurance programs, and specific legislation.

The strategy

Many educators felt unsupported or ignored by congressional leaders, so the National Education Association (NEA) worked to bring together affected parties from around the country, listen to their concerns, and demand action from Congress.

Without the ability to host in-person town halls because of stay-at-home orders, they were forced to go virtual. Using Mobilize and Zoom, the NEA hosted a series of webinars for teachers and other educators to discuss the potential re-opening of schools, student debt relief, and other concerns.

Many of these webinars were open to the public and attracted thousands of attendees—the first was so popular that the NEA hosted another. There was a grand total of 40,000 attendees!

The NEA also worked to turn their supporters into advocates for a federal COVID-19 relief bill. They did this through educating supporters about the specifics of the HEROES Act and informing them of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign position on public education. They put their members first by educating them and making sure their resources were readily available.

Using Mobilize to host thousands of volunteers

Achieving these goals while managing 3 million members was no easy feat. By using Mobilize, the NEA had a comprehensive tool to track tens of thousands of sign ups, collect data about event attendance, and automatically sync that data to VAN. Their events feed served as a central destination for supporters to register for an event, and Mobilize’s automated event suggestion prompts turned attendees into repeat volunteers. These prompts led to 20,000 more signups—5% of the total!

“During these difficult times, communicating with millions of members can be a challenge, but Mobilize gives us a seamless virtual engagement platform to provide our members with virtual event options quickly and easily.”

Mobilize also automatically prompted attendees to bring friends with them, leading to 83,000 more sign ups—24% of the total!  

“We are also able to maximize recruitment efforts through the ‘bring-a-friend’ option on Mobilize, which gives our members the ability to share the event easily with like-minded individuals. Many of our members have taken advantage of this option, allowing us to capitalize on word-of-mouth promotion.”  

Saving time with Mobilize

Mobilize automated countless administrative, time-consuming tasks for NEA administrators, including reminding registrants about upcoming events and sending them post-action surveys to collect feedback. Because of the automated reminders, the NEA knew that they were minimizing no-shows and maximizing turnout.

“Automatic reminders have done wonders for reducing flake rate and taking the burden off of NEA event organizers to remind registrants that they have an event coming up! In a world that is increasingly being saturated with virtual event options, knowing those automatic reminders were being sent to participants allowed us to focus more on making sure our events were as useful and informative to our members as possible.”  

The post-shift surveys and reporting exports provided insight into who was able to attend an event and how they felt about it, which helped guide future event planning and outreach. This attendance data also automatically synced with VAN, saving staff additional time.

"[The automatic VAN sync] has been instrumental in saving our event organizers time so we can continue to focus on spreading the NEA message and engaging our members for the 2020 election. " 


In many ways, the transition to virtual organizing for these webinars and town halls ended up benefitting the NEA. Without having to consider physical location, they were able to recruit high profile guest speakers such as former NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, and others! These guest speakers are trusted messengers of the education community, so members were more likely to tune in to hear their guidance and advice during such unprecedented times.

During the time of COVID-19, the NEA focused on advocating and caring for members by creating events to hear concerns, provide important information, and give guidance. Their town halls and webinars averaged 4,333 registrants each. Members walked away feeling heard and with a clear understanding of next steps they could take to advocate for themselves.

What’s next for NEA?

As we approach the 2020 election, the NEA is working to elect new leaders who will fight for educators. They also want to train and encourage members to become advocates in their own communities. With legislation landscape changing frequently, the NEA’s work is essential to ensure that the rights of educators are safe from health concerns, layoffs, and other issues in the time of COVID-19. Supporters can expect to see an increase in activism opportunities through NEA over the next few months.

Looking to get involved with NEA? Find virtual opportunities on their Mobilize feed.