Letting 7,000 Families Know that Someone Was Stepping in

Getting the Word Out


Why Laura & John Arnold Came to Us: The Laura and John Arnold Foundation approached us to help the foundation build support for its vision of producing substantial, widespread and lasting reforms within K-12 public education and public accountability. This included publicly unveiling its major investments in supporting the revamped school system in post-Katrina New Orleans. We conducted media briefings with reporters from top-tier publications, which led to prominent placements in The Wall Street Journal, The Houston Chronicle, USA Today, Education Week and The Associated Press about the foundation’s investments geared towards positive change in the Crescent City. The investments have led to incredible success and have helped open up positive educational opportunities for thousands of children who were not previously receiving a good education.


After their successful grant-making in New Orleans, and at the time of the federal government shutdown in October 2013, Laura and John Arnold were concerned that thousands of children that would be negatively impacted. The impending shutdown would have cut off all federal funding for the Head Start program, a 50-year-old program that provides early education and meals for 7,000 low-income kids. The Arnolds, disappointed at the federal government’sinability to resolve their differences, believed that it was especially unfair that young children from underserved communities and families would suffer at the hands of Congress’s collective failures. In an effort to address this injustice, they donated $10 million to keep the doors open at every Head Start program across the country. They wanted to let the 7,000 participating families know the programs would continue, and let policymakers know that their bureaucratic ineptitude would have a negative impact on the country’s most vulnerable children.


Our Strategy for Laura & John Arnold: We managed this potential crisis by proactively making sure that every family across the nation knew that Head Start programs would not go away, despite the government shutdown. To maximize potential media impact of the Arnolds’ announcement, we proactively reached out to our trusted reporters at top-tier publications and managed media inquiries from national and regional reporters throughout the government shutdown.

Why It’s Worth Talking About


Throughout the government shutdown, we placed more than 200 positive news stories, including in national publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Time Magazine, The Atlantic and The Washington Post. In addition, stories about potentially affected programs were covered in all key regions and local outlets. Additionally, social media traction on Twitter, Facebook and other outlets was active and overwhelmingly positive.


Notably, most of the coverage focused prominently on the many families who discovered they were getting a reprieve from the inaction by the federal government through the generous support and singled out the Arnolds as some of the few heroes of the government shutdown. By the end of the campaign, the Arnold’s support became part of the ongoing narrative in the broader conversations regarding Head Start and the government shutdown.