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Legislative and Advocacy Updates – February 2024

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A key component of NAZ’s three-year (FY22-24) Strategic Business Plan is deepening our systems and policy change efforts at the local, state, and national levels. Experience has taught us that we will never end multi-generational poverty, accelerate academic outcomes, secure sustainable resources, or eradicate poverty without addressing the systems that hold the foundational problem of racial inequity in place. To that end, NAZ staff, parents, and other stakeholders are engaged in key issues impacting our scholars, families, and community.

Both DFL House and Senate caucus leaders have previewed their session priorities, and many align and advance the work of NAZ. Housing opportunity and stability, addressing early learning access, cost and wages, literacy curriculum (READ Act), children’s mental health supports, community health and wellness, and data-driven decision-making across state government investments continue to be issues the DFL is focused on advancing this session. Working collaboratively with its anchor partners and other coalitions organized around specific issues (for example: Education Partnership Coalition, Start Early, Homes for All), NAZ will support specific legislation that fall under these priorities.

NAZ has also learned that community members are the best advocates for change that affects them. We will continue cultivating parent and youth power and voice through training and advocacy opportunities during the 2024 legislative session and beyond. We will share an update on our efforts in this newsletter after the regular session work ends on Monday, May 20.

Woman smiling at camera

To further our systems change work, we are thrilled to welcome Kisha Shanks, Director of Advocacy and Civic Engagement, a new role at NAZ.

For the past 14 years, Kisha has been the driving force behind a successful home visiting program in Milwaukee, Yemoja Wellness Group, focusing on pregnant and birthing families. Her accomplishments in this area have extended beyond Milwaukee, as she has been a consultant for various community-serving organizations and government agencies throughout Wisconsin and beyond. She also played a pivotal role in leading initiatives for the Black Child Development Institute, which is dedicated to advancing policies that enhance the quality of life for Black children in Wisconsin.

Kisha started in her role at NAZ just in time for the 2024 Minnesota legislative session launch on February 12. Gaveling back in for the second year of the biennium after arguably the most historic legislative session in state history, the DFL maintains control of the House, Senate, and the Governor’s Office.