For such an initiative to be successful, Mass2020 needed to generate substantial grassroots support for their proposal among parents and educators, many of whose initial responses to the idea of longer school schedules were viscerally negative. Mass2020 engaged O’Neill and Associates to provide a vigorous and multifaceted government relations and public relations outreach campaign to the varied constituencies whose lives would be significantly affected by a change in the school schedule.
Massachusetts 2020 (Mass2020) is an education non-profit dedicated to expanding educational and economic opportunities for children and families across Massachusetts. Among other initiatives, Mass2020 sought to bring about a bold and complicated change in the Commonwealth’s education system by expanding in-school learning time throughout the state.
Working with Massachusetts 2020, O’Neill and Associates’ integrated government relations and public relations team:
- Developed messages specific to the numerous and diverse audiences involved in and impacted by this initiative and their specific needs;
- Developed market-specific communications plans considering the special needs and timing in targeted areas and developing relationships with key market reporters and editors;
- Developed local coalitions in support of each community proposal by identifying opinion leaders and enabling local spokespeople to carry key messages that will resonate with individual communities;
- Managed media and push good news stories surrounding critical milestones such as approval from the Massachusetts Department of Education, and legislative action;
- Provided the media with reader-friendly, easy-to-use and duplicate communications materials articulating the Massachusetts 2020 message;
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive lobbying campaign to secure funding for the implementation of this program, focusing on key legislators and members of the Romney and Patrick administrations; and
- Monitored the status of the funding and political support for the initiative at the State House.
Over the course of this campaign, O’Neill and Associates secured coverage for Mass2020 in national and regional outlets including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Education Week, The Boston Globe, The Metro West Daily News, and local newspapers across the state.
Mass2020’s Expanded Learning Time (ELT) initiative won the support and cooperation of Governor Patrick, the Massachusetts Department of Education, the state Legislature, superintendents, teachers, parents, community groups, and unions.
The Massachusetts Legislature dedicated $6.5 million in FY2007 to expand school schedules for 10 schools in five urban districts by at least 30 percent. In FY2008, the Legislature doubled its funding for ELT to $13 million.
O’Neill and Associates was recognized with a 2008 Bellringer Award from the Publicity Club of New England for our work on behalf of Massachusetts 2020.