Clairelise Rodriguez is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

This week on the state of the CAN, we have a special treat: we’re talking to Christina Grant, executive director of the soon-to-be-launched NYCAN: The New York Campaign for Achievement Now.

NYCAN is launching in a few months. What are you doing now to prepare?
Running around like a chicken with its head cut off! 

In all seriousness, I have a few big-ticket items on my pre-launch to-do list. My number one objective over the next month is to hire great public affairs and government relations and policy managers. We need plenty of the zeal and talent in each role to carry out NYCAN’s important work, so if you think you fit the bill, I encourage you to apply!

In addition to recruiting my team, I’m also looking to finalize NYCAN’s 2012 policy agenda and decide on three to four issues that NYCAN will advocate for in the coming year.

Lastly, we’re working on building out a geographical diverse advisory board. NYCAN’s advisory board members will in many cases be NYCAN’s “ed reform ambassadors,” and I want to make sure they represent stakeholders from across the state.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for New York’s education system?
When you look across all the state, you see there are so many different education advocacy organizations, but there is no one voice that’s bipartisan and cares about all of the issues facing education today. NYCAN has a great opportunity to build coalitions among all of these groups, all of which are working hard towards the same end: getting it right for New York’s children.

NYCAN will build on its in-house research to show lawmakers that the initiatives we’re pushing for make sense, are in the best interest of children and, if they cost money, are worth the investment. Through a combination of smart research and meaningful partnerships with likeminded groups, we will hopefully create a unique voice for what education should be in the state of New York.

Is there anything that makes you nervous or keeps you up at night?
Number one: getting it right for kids! We want to make sure that whatever we encourage the state to do will make a real difference for our kids. That’s why deciding on the right set of policy issues for NYCAN to advocate for is so important.

Building a great team is also big on my mind. Effectively propelling NYCAN’s message to both policymakers and the public will take a team of committed advocates who will work harder than ever out of a fierce belief that great schools change everything. 

NYCAN won’t be launching for a few months. Is there a way for New Yorkers to get involved now?
There are several important ways to get involved:

  • Donate. NYCAN is funded by individuals who believe that great schools change everything and we depend on and greatly appreciate your support.
  • Apply to join the NYCAN team. I’m looking for smart, passionate and hard-working people to become NYCAN’s government relations and policy manager and public affairs manager. If that’s you, consider applying.
  • Get in touch with me. I was thrilled when I got an email from a student on Columbia who had seen NYCAN’s page on the 50CAN website. They sent a note saying that although summer is still nine months away, they wanted to be considered being NYCAN’s summer intern. I love getting those kinds of emails. If you’re interested in volunteering with NYCAN or getting involved in another way, I want to hear about it!



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