State Policy Equity for Every Child and their Family

What if every child had access to the best policy no matter what zip code or state they live in?

Photo of Lacey
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

I am a state level child advocate who has worked the halls of the state capitol for 15 years. I am hugely passionate about the power of policy to dictate outcomes for families (think GI Bill, state highways, child care subsidies, etc). As an advocate who has worked tirelessly alongside with other passionate advocates, I have come to realize that we need to do something different. Incremental change is okay, but political climates are becoming tougher and tougher for families. Let's get creative!

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Kentucky

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Kentucky

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

The South

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Politics in “red states” may be different than in “blue ones”, but the needs facing families are the same. Advocates are finding ways to establish common ground, develop politically viable policy ideas, and build public will for action. They’re delivering wins on important issues every day. And they’re building research, policy, advocacy, and communication tactics and strategies that succeed where others have fallen short. Let's create a network!

We collect, analyze, and share the best timely examples of red state advocacy wins. These case studies take us inside some of the most challenging political climates in America, to learn how advocates got it done, identify elements of strategy, tactics, or message that can be replicated by other advocates. We share these best practices in a digestible way that helps advocates apply them to their own work.

Red Lens is different from broader efforts aimed at rehabilitating government in the public consciousness. Since advocates work through government, these broader efforts are also important. But Red Lens is about mapping out specific policy wins in red states, learning the success stories behind them, and sharing those successes with the broader community of advocates. We see our work as contributing to broader conversation-change efforts, as well, by providing concrete examples of government acting too solve real problems for real people.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Our ultimate objective is to build a learning community – a network of advocates facing shared challenges and exchanging ideas and best practices. We would begin with a white paper collecting in depth case studies, lessons learned, and best practices. Research questions include: Where did red state advocates outperform expectations, delivering wins of consequence on issues that matter for real people despite a tough political climate? What were the key elements of their success? Which can be replicated, and how? We would take the white paper’s best practices to advocates in states where they’re most immediately applicable: the South, the West, and the Midwest. We will offer webinars and technical assistance.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

A supporter said it best: "To remain effective, advocates must adapt to this "reddening" of America. Advocates frequently ask me for messaging research that will work in "red" states. By documenting the success stories of advocates in red states, the project is designed to create a venue for advocates to learn from each other. Advocates in other red states could potentially replicate their peers' most effective strategies, and advocates in blue states might better manage their own shifting landscapes. And by supplementing the initial white paper with in-person gatherings and webinars, the project offers a forum to build and strengthen critical connections among advocates. It is these sharing opportunities, as much as the best practices themselves, which help advocates adapt and improve. The Red Lens project offers advocates inspiration and "out of the beltway" solutions and strategy."

Organization Type

  • for-profit

Annual Budget

  • less than $1k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We hope that funders who are passionate about children and their families will invest in this project. Once the initial research is completed, the project will begin to test the best practices in states. Both the process and results outcomes will speak to the importance. At the same time, advocates will be building capacity to keep up the work for kids.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

This is a unique project in that has a deliberate focus on "red states" and will build a knowledge network of advocates that share common struggles. This project was born in the south and is deliberately designed to pull info from red states to red states. By supplementing the initial white paper with in-person gatherings and webinars, the project offers a forum to build and strengthen critical connections among advocates. It is these sharing opportunities, as much as the best practices themselves, which help advocates adapt and improve. •

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Social change-makers need adequate resources to be effective. People need policy environments that encourage positive choices and even make the "healthy" choice, the "easy" choice. Children's outcomes should not be based on their zip codes. In the changing policy world, child advocates need access to capacity building that is current, innovative, well-resourced, and proven in similar places.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email


Join the conversation:

Photo of Charlotte Stites

I would love to connect with you about your work. I am in Louisville also - working to open the Smoketown Family Wellness Center as a new means for healthcare delivery, incorporating clinical care with lifestyle and social determinants in a community-based setting. I also met with Lynn Rippy last week who spoke very highly of you. I'd love to connect:

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