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Jonah  Edelman

Jonah Edelman

Children's Advocate & Co-Founder of Stand for Children


Jonah Edelman is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stand for Children, the nation’s most influential political voice for students and a catalyst last year in the passage of key laws to improve public schools in six states (Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Washington). Edelman’s personal stand for children began during college, when he taught a six year-old bilingual child to read. Having discovered his passion, he went on to found a mentorship program for middle school students and then served as an administrator of an enrichment program for children living in public housing, Leadership Education and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP).  Read More >

Edelman considers himself a second generation civil rights leader – his mother, Marian Wright Edelman, was the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi bar and his father, Peter Edelman, was a close aide to Robert F. Kennedy. Edelman was born and raised in Washington, DC, graduated from Yale University in 1992, and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, where in three years (1992-1995) he earned masters and doctor of philosophy degrees in politics. In 1996, he helped organize Stand for Children's historic founding rally in Washington, DC, which was attended by more than 300,000 people.

Since 2009, Stand for Children has doubled in size. Stand now has affiliates in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, with a new affiliate in Indiana launching in March, 2011. Parallel to its affiliate-based work, Stand for Children provides technical assistance to help state leaders and advocates to achieve education breakthroughs in other states, an approach piloted successfully in Oklahoma in 2010.  

Stand for Children also guides long-term success for children by helping elect education champions to school board, state legislature, and other public offices. The organization has an 85% success rate for electing state legislative candidates it supports with volunteer time and Political Action Committee contributions. During the 2010 elections, Stand campaign volunteers reached 55,000 targeted voters in four states and strategically invested $1.1 million in PAC funds to help elect dozens of education champions in Colorado, Washington, Illinois, and Oregon.

Edelman was recently recognized on Time.com as one of the nation’s top eleven education activists for 2011. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

APB Presents: Jonah Edelman

What We Can Do to Improve Public Education

Speech Topics

Effective Advocacy for Children

In this workshop, leading national child advocate Jonah Edelman will provide a compelling overview of the basics of effective advocacy for children. The workshop will include powerful concepts and approaches that will help you build a stronger constituency for children, identify winnable issues to work on, develop practical solutions, communicate highly effectively about them, and, finally, how to develop effective strategies for winning decision makers' support for your solutions. Don't miss this chance to learn how to build your advocacy skills.

A Conversation about the Future of Public Education in the United States

Public schools are at a crossroads. Students need better preparation than ever to compete in the global economy. The federal government is imposing higher standards than ever before. In the context of declining financial resources, how can public schools possibly deliver the product that students urgently need and the public expects? Stand for Children Executive Director Jonah Edelman will share a provocative and practical perspective.

Education Reform & Innovation: Equipping Students to Succeed in the Global Economy

What Works: Identifying & Supporting Children's Programs that Make the Greatest Impact

Making a Bigger Impact for Children: A New Model for Child Advocacy