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Center for Organizing Resources

NEA's Center for Organizing partners with state and local affiliates to build an association-wide culture of organizing.
phoenix union organizers
Members of Arizona’s Phoenix Elementary Classroom Teachers Association in 2019.
Published: November 2020

Our goal is to build on our legacy of advocacy to fulfill our mission of great public schools for all students, and grow strong, sustainable NEA affiliates for the future.

A culture of organizing is one that promotes deep member engagement, leadership development, and collective action. At its core, organizing means facilitating collective action among a group and empowering others to take on leadership roles.

We know effective organizing results in increased membership growth and more member engagement, expanding leadership, and real wins on the policies and practices that impact our members, our schools, our students, and our communities - grounded in our values of equity, opportunity, and racial justice.

See below for guides and resources to help you build a culture of organizing.


NEA Guide to Transformational Organizing Conversations - As you engage with potential members you might encounter some tough questions. This document will help you start recruitment conversations and navigate those questions while highlighting all that NEA has to offer at the local, state, and national levels. 

Parachute Lending Library – Access many of the great parachute designs that educators across the country have been using in the Red for Ed movement. The Parachute Lending Library is easy to use. You'll be connected with C4O to share which parachute design you would like to feature in your action and the date needed for the parachute banner to arrive by mail. The parachute—if not already out on loan—will be mailed to your local. After the march or action, your local would be responsible to mail the parachute back to the NEA national office in D.C

Secrets of a Successful Organizer: Educators Training Guide – Produced in partnership with Labor Notes, this Trainers Guide has been customized to use school-based examples; and focuses on three key modules in the Secrets of a Successful Organizer book: “Beating Apathy”,  “Assembling Your Dream Team”, and “Turning an Issue into a Campaign”

C4O Fundamentals of Organizing Toolkit – A basic primer on What is Organizing, One-on-One Conversations, Issue Identification, Mapping the Workplace, Bargaining Issue Campaigns, Campaign Planning, the Campaign Debrief, and Organizing for Community Support.

C4O Fundamentals of Organizing Resources – A compendium of tools, sample forms, checklists and training materials to support organizing

C4O ESP Organizing Toolkit – The C4O toolkit and resources adapted for education support professionals.

C4O Retired Member Organizing Toolkit – The C4O toolkit and resources adapted for retired members.

Organizing and Engaging Substitute Educators – A report documenting describing the issues and concerns of substitute educators and the best practices being used by NEA affiliates to organize and engage these essential educator partners.

Advocating for Early Childhood and Adult Educators – A report documenting describing the issues and concerns of early childhood and adult educators and the best practices being used by NEA affiliates to organize and engage these essential educator partners.

Curriculum on Unionism and the Common Good – A four-module curriculum commissioned by NEA to promote the attitudes, values, and goals of unionism, solidarity, justice, fairness, and the search for the common good.

Organizing: People, Power, Change – This guide is based on the work of Marshall Ganz, the Leading Change Network, and the New Organizing Institute. It is a useful introduction to the relational organizing model refined by Ganz.

Career Fair Guide – Career fairs are a vital avenue to future educators searching for a school district to call home. In some cases, they are also an affiliate's first opportunity to interface with future members. Here is a step-by-step guide to career fairs that can benefit young professionals and the union.


The NEA Center for Organizing measures successful organizing through multiple lenses: robust member engagement, effective distributive leadership structures, and growth in membership. We seek to build these capacities through organizing campaigns built around the issues important to our members. Many different organizing strategies can lead to success; nonetheless, all authentic organizing is accountable for measurable goals and outcomes. Below is just a sampling of the many organizing efforts NEA undertakes to ensure we remain a strong union into the future.

New Educator Campaign this program is a commitment to having one on one organizing conversations with every incoming educator to collect personal contact information and learn more about new educators' interests.

Higher Education Organizing - NEA represents more than 200,000 higher-education faculty, staff, educational support professionals, and graduate assistants on public and private campuses.

Early Enrollment - Early Enrollment allows NEA organizers to reach educators, often with discounted membership pricing, before life gets too busy.

Education Summer - EdSummer is what happens when you gather educators committed to improving public education, help them brush up on their organizing skills and let them loose in an unfamiliar community.

Winter Organizing - NEA's Winter Organizing supports local and state affiliates' year-round organizing work and is designed to lift educators voices to achieve our mission of great public schools for all.

My School, My Voice We developed a number of practice guides to help you understand the major elements of ESSA. They provide an overview and look at assessments and accountability.

Organizing Campaigns

Growth and Strength Organizing Campaign Resources

Interested in developing, implementing, and organizing a campaign that both grows our national, state, and local affiliates and addresses issues educators care about, including early career and veteran educators?

These resources help guide users on how to plan and launch these issue-based campaigns that result in both membership growth and policy or issue-based wins. 


Civic Academies

“Civic Academies” are the name the National Education Association (NEA) has given to a special kind of parent and community organizing committee, although they go by many names in the places where they have been built. 

Civic Academies connect analysis with action, grounding the work with a focus on organizing around issues that transcend a single campaign. This deeper analysis should be grounded in research about the ways that the economy, tax policy, and school funding harm students, educators, and their communities. This analysis also allows local leaders and community members to see how these economic structures create and exacerbate racial inequalities in their community.

Are you an affiliate?

Jump to updates, opportunities, and resources for NEA state and local affiliates.

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We need to dismantle unjust systems. We need to fully fund public schools. We need to hold our elected leaders accountable to our communities. And we need your help to make it happen.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.