Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) strives to expand access to early childhood education in the United States and end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths around the world.
Despite its important mission and proven track record, lawmakers had been slow to recognize Save the Children’s important work both domestically and internationally. Simply bringing a compelling mission, policy platform and supporting data was not enough to break through today’s challenging political environment. Save the Children realized that mission driven results were not possible without the added tools of an effective advocacy capacity. Cause-related organizations that aspire to create transformative and lasting social change, such as universal pre-school or improved child nutrition standards, need to have the organizational capacity and political influence to significantly raise the visibility and relevancy of their issue and hold policymakers accountable for their support.
In 2013, Save the Children decided to pursue a game-changing strategy: create a 501(c)4 powerhouse advocacy organization dedicated to fighting for children. The Sheridan Group provided strategic guidance on how to move this bold idea from conception to reality within the walls of a nearly 100-year-old institution. Recognizing the added tools that a (c)4 permits, the Board realized that this strategic change would generate a “force multiplier” effect across the entire organization and drive it toward mission specific goals. Following initial approval from Save the Children’s Board of Directors in July, TSG worked with Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children, and Mark Shiver, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, to draft a detailed business plan for the 501(c)4 that included an initial budget framework, clear goals and objectives, and recommendations for board governance, staffing and political alliances. The plan also identified the 501(c)4’s two primary issue areas for the 2014 election: early childhood education on the domestic front and newborn childhood survival internationally.
In late 2013, Mark Shriver and The Sheridan Group presented this concept and the accompanying business plan to Save the Children’s Board of Directors. Recognizing that this entity would provide Save the Children with new organizational capacity and political muscle to realize its policy and advocacy goals, the Board officially approved the creation of the 501(c)4—Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). TSG is now working in concert with SCAN’s Senior Management Team to pursue a rigorous policy agenda focused on early childhood education in the U.S. and newborn childhood survival internationally. Together, TSG and SCAN have stood up an Action Tank to bring together unusual suspects to find innovative ways to include early childhood education in tax reform; created a coalition of over 20 NGOs to write, introduce and build support for bipartisan, bicameral legislation to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths; and engaged presidential candidates on both early learning and mother child survival.