AFL-CIO Adopt-a-School Criteria

Below is a description of the AFSA endorsed Adopt-A-School program, which sponsors schools to better inform communities and educate young people on the vital connection between workers’ rights and civil rights.


On August 28, 2013 our nation will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that was held on the National Mall.  On that day in 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, which accelerated the nation’s own march toward social and economic justice, including passage of the Civil rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

We believe the best way to ensure the legacy of the 1963 March on Washington is continued and the promise of jobs and freedom is fulfilled is to reflect, to inform, to educate and to take action.  As such, the AFL-CIO with our affiliates will endorse and support the commemoration of the march in new and creative ways, including:

Support teaching staff and classrooms to help educate young people on the vital connection between workers’ rights and civil rights, including adopting school(s) and other initiatives that connect union workers to students.


Award $5,000 one-time grants to twenty public schools covering the four regions of the country; Northeast, Midwest, South and West.  We will work to ensure that in each region there is a grant awarded to a pre-K through elementary, a middle/junior high and a high school.


One or more of the following criteria is suggested for consideration in identifying an eligible public school to receive the grant.

  • Schools chosen must be willing to commit to having a labor activist\union member engage in a conversation with all or some of the student body at least once a year for a four year period, to discuss worker rights and civil rights.
  • Schools chosen must be willing to allow a mutually approved letter from AFL-CIO to be sent home with students to parents/guardians highlighting why the school was adopted by the AFL-CIO.
  • Active Central Labor Council that is willing and has the capacity to commit to working
  • with the school administrators and teachers/staff to provide a labor activist to engage with the students at least once a year to further their understanding of workers’ rights and civil rights.   The CLC may choose the week of Labor Day or the month of January to connect Dr. King’s belief that all labor has dignity and show how that work makes our communities stronger.  For example, they may choose to highlight the work of an engineer, a fire-fighter, a nurse, a sanitation worker, an airline pilot, a professional football player, a public employee or a teacher.

AFL-CIO Organizing or Bargaining where workers in the School District are organizing for a voice on the job or bargaining for better wages and working conditions.

Labor & Community Partnership where there is an effort to do one or more of the following:

1.    Improve access to quality public education
2.    Stop school closing of neighborhood schools
3.    Reduce class size
4.    Keep libraries open or build more in the area surrounding the school
5.    Secured needed books and school supplies
6.    Find the resources needed for more computers in classrooms or computer lab
7.    Pass a school bond measure
8.    Defeat privatization of schools or school services

The school has overcome odds (crowded class rooms, large % of students at or below poverty level, staff reductions) yet students have made remarkable academic improvements over the course of a one or two year period.

Selection Process

The American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of School Administrators and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees shall work in collaboration to nominate schools in each region and within each category. The total number of schools to be nominated shall not exceed 100. The deadline for nominations is July 1, 2013.

The AFL-CIO Campaigns Department and the Organizing Department will assist to the extent possible in identifying potential schools.

The final selection will be made by a committee comprised of the AFL-CIO Executive Vice President, representatives from American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of School Administrators, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the United Steelworkers and the American Postal Workers Union. The Committee shall keep the Executive Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights informed during the review and selection process.

Awards will be announced no later than August 28, 2013 and will be highlighted at the AFL-CIO convention.

Suggested Activities for Selected Schools
Selected schools will receive a toolkit of suggested activities which can be implemented during their four-year commitment period.  This could include:

  • Literacy events (author readings, book give-aways) organized in conjunction with First Book, labor and parent/community partners
  • Inclusion of curriculum materials with a focus on labor curriculum materials as a featured resource in AFT’s Share My Lesson
  • Essay contests for targeted grade levels with labor and community partners as judges