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Raising the Dough: Sleeping and Sliding for a Good Cause

Christopher Jacob Reza gives Jeanette Garcia-Avila a massage to raise money for NEA's political action committee during the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago, Il.

Creativity and fun on the way to more than $1 million raised for PAC


July 5, 2011
By Staci Maiers

CHICAGO—Naps, bathrobes, massages, karaoke—the wobble.

During difficult economic times, fundraising can be tough, and to meet the challenge, NEA members think outside the box in creative and innovative ways to recognize delegates’ voluntary contributions to its federal political action committee (PAC), the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education.

“In our caucus we noticed that a lot of our members like to take naps,” said Brittany Jones, an early elementary major at Virginia Commonwealth Universityin Richmond. “We have early morning meetings and we go all day long.”

As a result, the Student Virginia Education Association decided to recognize contributors with nap tickets in an effort to raise money for its caucus. A dollar a day “will get you a sticker to put on your name badge,” says Jones. “As long as we see you have a sticker, it covers you for that day, but we wake [delegates] up after a certain amount of time so that we can get them back involved in business.”

Napping was just one of the innovative ways that helped NEA members raise $1,046,705.57 to the NEA Fund at the Representative Assembly. Members contribute to the NEA Fund all year-long, supporting the election of pro-public education candidates. At NEA’s Representative Assembly, delegates go the extra mile to meet important yearly fundraising goals.

South in Tennessee, delegates did it a little differently as they danced for dollars.


(foreground l-r) Amanda Broach and Caryce Gilmore dance the wobble during the RA. The hip-hop dance was a caucus fundraiser.

The wobble? “It’s a lot of shaking,” said Caryce Gilmore, a member of the Student Tennessee Education Association. “It’s like an electric slide.”

Gilmore, a senior studying elementary education at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Tenn., realized the student members wouldn’t meet their fundraising goals without something a little fun and inventive. So student delegates decided to wobble—a repetitive line dance based on a song by hip-hop artist V.I.C.

“We had the blues because we hadn’t met the goal and the more theatrical we got, the more they would give” to the PAC, said Gilmore.  “We said that we would wobble for funds and donations.”

In the Badger State, karaoke proved to be the cash cow.  Student members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council conducted a sing-off with their president while other delegates voted for their favorite performers.

Over in Kansas, delegates donned bath robes to raise funds while Texas and Pennsylvania offered five minutes of relaxation bliss.

For most delegations, however, silent and live auctions have proven to be the tried and true way of raising funds while on site at the RA.

“Everyone is encouraged to bring an item,” said Andrew Frost, an elementary special education teacher at Washington Elementary School in Muscatine, Iowa. Items ranging from bottles of wine and homemade gifts to fine jewelry are personally given in-kind by members. “People are willing to put their money towards it.” 

“The alcohol has gone really well,” laughed fellow Iowa delegate David Tjaden, a graduate student at the University of Iowa pursuing a masters in secondary Social Studies education. “A $12 of wine went for a hundred and fifty bucks. It’s for a good cause.”

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