Empower Mississippi has successfully pushed a number of education reform policies through the Legislature, including a program that allows students with disabilities to receive monetary assistance for educational expenses. On June 8, the organization announced the hiring of two community outreach coordinators, Anna Beth Houston and Constance White.
Empower Mississippi President Grant Callen announced the two new positions as part of Empower MS’s new Community Outreach Division.
From the Announcement:
“This division will be headed up by two Community Outreach Coordinators who will be on the ground in strategic communities around the state. These team members will partner with parents to help support them in advocating for education choice.
As Empower continues our push to expand school choice in Mississippi, these new community outreach coordinators will recruit, educate, and train parents as Ambassadors for Choice and showcase the demand for school choice in the Magnolia State.
Constance White will spearhead our grassroots effort in the Jackson area and the Delta. Constance previously worked for Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), where she helped educate citizens on the positive impact of charter schools.
Anna Beth Houston will oversee our grassroots effort on the Coast. Anna Beth recently graduated from Mississippi College and interned for Empower Mississippi in 2015. She served as a policy intern with the Mississippi Legislative Conservative Coalition during the past two legislative sessions.
“Parents have been ignored for far too long,” Callen said. “This new division will amplify and organize the voices of parents who know their children deserve better education options, but feel powerless to take that message to the policymakers. I am excited to have Constance and Anna Beth join the Empower Team to head up this project.”
Empower Mississippi President Grant Callen told the Clarion Ledger the positions were created with the goal of deepening the group’s connections with parents across the state.
“While we have many parents engaged with what we’re doing, we regularly hear from parents who want more support and who want more tools to advocate for their kids.”
The report “Mississippi Voices: Public Perceptions of Pre-K-12 Education in Mississippi,” found that roughly 58 percent of respondents surveyed were “not at all familiar” with charter schools.
That number was higher among participants who were non-white or classified as low-income; both are demographics that Empower wants to focus on.
As a nonprofit, Empower Mississippi is not politically affiliated. The group, however, does have a political action committee. That organization, simply called Empower, has shown political muscle, most notably leading a successful campaign to oust four incumbent DeSoto County Republicans who did not support charter schools from the state House.
Empower MS has set a goal for 50,000 Mississippi students to be enrolled in education choice programs by 2025. As of Fall 2016 that number stood at 1,125.