15 Inspiring Nonprofits and Student Advocacy Groups Transforming Lives

Whether advocating for minority students, funding low-income schools or helping teachers succeed, nonprofit organizations are a vital force in education. 

Knowing about these organizations can inspire your work in the classroom and provide you with resources and new ideas that make a difference. Here are 15 nonprofits advocating for teachers, students and the future of education in America.


As one of the most influential nonprofits in urban education, UrbEd has taken great strides toward making inner-city Philadelphia schools stronger and more efficient. UrbEd unites teachers, urban youth, businesses and local organizations in working towards a brighter future for urban education. 

Since 2016, this organization has advocated for students in a variety of ways, tackling tough conversations like teacher diversity, building conditions and the school-to-prison pipeline. From hiring and training student advocates to conducting school presentations and hosting a civic engagement competition, UrbEd provides opportunities for the entire Philadelphia community.

The Education Trust

The achievement gap in America is greatly influenced by race, class and background — all factors that can be hard to address. Still, The Education Trust is on a mission to tackle these challenges. In its fight for equity, The Education Trust gives a voice to underfunded schools, LGBTQ students of color and low-income students, just to name a few. As of 2023, the organization is active in eight states: Washington, California, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts.  

Aside from taking action in schools across the country, The Education Trust offers a number of free resources and data tools for educators and administrators. It also has insights into higher education. For example, one report reviews diversity in the most selective universities and how acceptance rates can affect the American workforce as a whole.

Be a Leader Foundation

In 2002, the Be a Leader Foundation was founded as a scholarship-granting organization. However, the group wanted to become more than that, and in 2006, it debuted its first program that served 32 8th-grade students. Today, Be a Leader has several programs that serve thousands of students each year, from middle school students to college graduates. Its main goal is to help every participant attain a college degree.   

Nearly 78 percent of students who enter a Be a Leader program have enrolled in postsecondary education. You can find these students in more than 400 institutions across the country. This could be a powerful organization to work with if you want to encourage your students to attend college. 

Digital Promise

This technology-driven organization wants to bridge the opportunity gap by bringing technology to everyone. It brings together education leaders, researchers and technology creators to address the most pressing challenges regarding technology in schools today. 

What makes Digital Promise unique is its approach to this universal problem. Rather than focusing on the determinants and challenges caused by technology, it helps address inequities by uniting the world’s smartest and most innovative entities. 

The organization also publishes several reports that discuss equity and education technology. For example, a recent report covered topics related to computational thinking for an inclusive world.

Kindergarten students learning energy producer from solar windmill in science class; inspiring nonprofits concept

Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code puts a whole new spin on gender equality and the achievement gap. This nonprofit organization focuses on providing free computer science programming through free extracurricular programs to girls ages 13-18 of all backgrounds. The GWC clubs are scaled “to reach more girls in more places, and give them the chance to forge lifelong bonds so they may persist in computer science.”

With more jobs in computer science and fewer women in the field, Girls Who Code aims to achieve gender parity in the workforce. This is more important than ever. In 1995, women made up 37 percent of people in the computer science field. Today, it’s 24 percent. Summer camps, immersions and scholarships are just a few ways that this exciting organization creates change.

American Youth Policy Forum

The American Youth Policy Forum takes a political approach to helping students succeed. By reforming and creating policies that advance education and equality, the AYPF helps underserved youth access the opportunities they deserve.

English language learners, justice-involved youth, youth in foster care and youth with disabilities are just some of the groups that AYPF helps to support and protect. These groups are supported by the American Youth Policy Forum in a wide range of areas, including STEM, youth leadership, college and career readiness, and social and emotional learning.

The organization has been involved in passing some of the most important educational policies of the past few years, including the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Educators can review specific topic areas of focus to find advocacy resources and information that are relevant to their needs. 

Learning to Give

This Michigan-based nonprofit is aimed at transforming today’s students into the thoughtful, change-driven leaders of the future. Learning to Give is an unparalleled resource for K-12 educators who want to empower and inspire their students to do good in the world. Teachers can find lesson plans, grants and professional development opportunities on its website. 

All of Learning to Give’s activities and resources are centered around the three principles of giving: purpose, mastery and autonomy. The idea behind this philosophy is that when students become aware of needs larger than their own, they’ll independently take action to address them in a way that expands their own learning.

A great resource is the Get to the Root activity. Students talk about issues that are important to them and then get to the root cause of the issue. For example, if the school cafeteria doesn’t serve enough vegetables, the source of the problem could be related to funding.

Kids sitting on the floor in a circle around the teacher, listening a story; inspiring nonprofits concept

Advocates for Children of New York

New York City students at risk of discrimination are supported by Advocates for Children of New York, a leading equality organization that helps thousands of children each year. AFC dives deep into issues like accessibility and equality, actively checking to see how local schools uphold the rights of at-risk students. 

Families and teachers of at-risk students can also connect to AFC to access legal services and education when they’re experiencing any kind of discrimination by a school or district. Educators and administrators can also keep tabs on Advocates for Children of New York to make sure they’re checking all the boxes in terms of accessibility and equality at their own schools.

AFC has several subsections on its website that you can refer to. These include students with disabilities, immigrant students, youth involved in the criminal justice system, and students in foster care. 

Youth Guidance

Chicago’s Youth Guidance has served nearly 15,000 local students with its counseling and prevention programs. The philosophy behind the organization is that students can prevail over any challenge when they have access to caring and trusted adults. Youth Guidance programs serve students with social and emotional interventions both inside and outside of school.

The organization supports 225 schools in the area and boasts a 95 percent improvement in graduation rates. Youth Guidance has been in operation since 1924 and started as the Church Mission of Help. What began as a group determined to help girls in need of shelter has evolved into a school-based program to support students as they face and overcome obstacles to complete their education. 

826 National

As the largest youth writing network in the country, 826 National has an impressive vision: to help young people achieve personal and academic success through writing. This organization sees the written word as a tool for amplifying young voices, building self-confidence, overcoming socio-economic barriers and exploring identity and creativity.

826 National has served more than 710,000 students and works with 18,000 educators. In recent years, the organization has started providing digital resources and hosting online events to engage people across the country. More than 16,000 students have had their work published and 86 percent of the writers who work with this group are students of color. 

The work of 826 National extends far beyond North America’s boundaries. More than 50 international organizations have been inspired by the model, and organizations in Europe, South America and Oceania are bringing the power of writing to local students.

Students painting inside art room class at university; inspiring nonprofits concept

Education Reimagined

If you’re ready to envision a new future for kids in American schools today, you’ll be inspired by the work of Education Reimagined, based in Washington, D.C. The goal of this nonprofit is to entirely transform the way that we structure and approach our schools. With the current industrial-era education system more than 100 years old, Education Reimagined believes that it’s time for a new system that supports the learners of today and the people of tomorrow.

Although many people have differing viewpoints on how education should work, most agree that the current system isn’t working as well as it could. This belief is what unites the supporters of Education Reimagined, who include parents, teachers, legislators and business leaders. By switching to a more learner-centric model that emphasizes practical technology applications, personalized learning and real-world readiness, Education Reimagined is on a mission to redefine learning for good.

Create Now

Based in Los Angeles, Create Now uses the arts to connect with students. Mentors work with students to work on projects and participate in activities that unleash their creative side. This organization follows the idea that art therapy is one of the best treatments for PTSD. Its programs support students who have been abused, abandoned, caught up in the foster system or live in poverty. 

So far, this group has served nearly 51,000 students. It helps kids and young adults ages 3 to 24. Create Now is involved with community organizations, local businesses and California classrooms, with the ultimate goal being to help youth get out of poverty and learn skills that can lead to jobs and careers.


All4Ed, also known as Future Ready Schools®, is on a mission to implement actionable, effective learning strategies. This organization helps students succeed by raising the bar for both administrators and educators, providing research-driven professional development and teacher training. While 86 percent of students graduate from high school, nearly 70 percent of those at public two-year colleges need to take remedial courses to cover what they should have learned in high school. All4Ed wants to close these learning gaps.

With a focus on underserved communities, All4Ed provides educators with evidence-based resources, skills and knowledge they need to create effective digital learning plans. The overall goal is to help bridge the socioeconomic opportunity gap that has been widened by technology access in schools.

Council of Chief State School Officers

The Council of Chief State School Officers is one of the loudest voices recognizing and driving change in today’s education system. You may know this organization as the founder of the prestigious National Teacher of The Year award, which honors those teachers making outstanding contributions to their schools, students and communities. 

CCSSO also focuses on core learning objectives and can be a go-to resource for teachers across the nation. Its website has information on creating academic standards, supporting special populations and advancing the quality of assessments. Educators will find a host of resources for professional development as well.

Great Schools Partnership

This organization brings together the brightest and most innovative minds in New England.

The mission of Great Schools Partnership is to improve area schools through collaboration, networking and pooling of resources. It is also the lead coordinator of the New England Secondary School Consortium. The core tenets focus on anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable practices along with proficiency-based learning and teaching. This organization believes that there are multiple and flexible ways to promote deep learning for students. 

The resources created by this organization have helped more than 100 schools across the country implement better systems while engaging their communities.

Post updated 12/12/2023. Originally published 1/22/2019.
Images used under license from Shutterstock.com.

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