Across Texas, school trustees provide education oversight and citizen governance to ensure our public schools meet the expectations of our local communities. The community perspective these leaders — and their constituencies — bring is critically important to state policymakers.

Is your school board doing all that it can to advocate to its community and state legislators?

Raise Your Hand Texas’ Trustee Advocates Program gives Texas school boards and their superintendents the tools they need to find, use, and amplify their voices and the voice in state legislative advocacy to influence education policy and engage their communities in that effort. 


Trustee Advocates Program participants learn how to build an advocacy system in their school district that supports local community connectedness and influences state legislative outcomes.

Applications for Cohort 2 selection are now closed. In January 2024, Raise Your Hand Texas will announce all Cohort 2 participants. 

Over 18 months and across six sessions in 2022 to 2023, Raise Your Hand Texas taught and coached its first cohort of trustees and superintendents from eight (8) school boards.

The program for Cohort 2 will include: 

  • Session 1 takes the form of a 3-hour local Team of 8 training for the entire school board and superintendent that will occur within each individual cohort school district.
  • Sessions 2 to 4 take place in Austin over approximately 2 days with the superintendent and up to three (3) of the school board members.
  • Session 5 occurs online. 

Grant awards cover all transportation, food and accommodation costs for superintendents and participating Trustees for the four (4) large group sessions that will be held in Austin, including accommodation for the night before the training begins. 

All of the work is issue-based, non-partisan, and in alignment with the Open Meetings Act.

Election Year Advocacy

State elections are critical to determining the environment in which public education policy is made. However, many elected officials are unfamiliar with the key public education issues and challenges. Election years are an important season to build relationships with candidates and educate them on their local school districts and include the community in this effort. 

Messages that are clearly and consistently conveyed to candidates on the campaign trail are well positioned to be the issues they remember and act upon in the Capitol. Furthermore, elected officials have a significant incentive to pay attention to those constituencies that they know are engaged and voting in their districts.

School districts will not be involved in supporting or opposing specific candidates. Rather, examples of this could include:  

  • Educating the local communities about public education challenges and policy and the state government’s role in addressing them;
  • Educating and building relationships with candidates.
  • Learning from the primary and general elections; or, 
  • Building a non-partisan voter education plan that provides facts about voting. 

Legislative Year Advocacy

The legislative advocacy efforts for Cohort 2 will focus on the 89th Legislative session in 2025.

Examples of learning could include:

  • Embedding a system of advocacy into the school district;
  • Including the community in the district’s local and state advocacy efforts; 
  • Testifying in mock Legislative and State Board of Education hearings; and/or, 
  • Advocating at the Capitol during the legislative session.

Connecting one’s community to the legislative advocacy process will be an important part of the program.


While recognizing the need for local flexibility and adaptation, each school district will be expected to develop and complete the following deliverables over the course of the program: 

  • Shared Team of 8 advocacy agreement; 
  • Community Engagement Advocacy Model; 
  • Community-Generated Legislative Priority Recommendations; 
  • Board-adopted Legislative Priorities; and, 
  • Nonpartisan Voter Education Plan 

The Trustee Advocates Program is issue-based, non-partisan, and held in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. As a Texas Education Agency-registered provider of continuing education, Raise Your Hand awards continuing education credits to the school board members for the hours spent in training.

Over the course of an 18-month fellowship, Trustee Advocates learn to build a local public education advocacy network that encourages community connectedness and influences state legislative outcomes.

Program Details

Application Process

All Texas school districts are eligible to apply to become members of the second cohort of the Raise Your Hand Texas Trustee Advocates Program. The cohort will include the school boards and superintendents of eight (8) school districts.

Applications open on Friday, August 25, 2023

Applications due by Friday, October 13, 2023

Selection Process

After the application period closes on October 13, 2023, the selection committee will review all applications and schedule virtual interviews.  Selected school districts should plan to include their superintendent and one Trustee in these interviews.

Program Invitations and Grant Awards announced on Friday, January 5, 2024

Program Invitations and Grant Awards must be accepted by Friday, January 26, 2024

Grant Award

Raise Your Hand Texas will cover all transportation, food, and accommodation costs for Cohort 2 superintendents and trustees for Sessions 2 to 5 in Austin, including accommodations for the night before the first day of training.


The superintendent and trustees that successfully complete the Trustee Advocacy Leaders program as members of Cohort 1 will earn the designation of Master Advocate and receive a lapel pin designating this prestigious status.

The inaugural fellowship cohort included these school districts:

Representing Major Urban or Major Suburban Districts

Representing Other Central City or Other Central City Suburban Cities and Towns

Non-Metropolitan or Rural Districts

Those who complete the course earn the designation of Master Advocate. 

Please direct any questions about this program to Missy Bender, Trustee in Residence.

Program Schedule

Session 1February, March, April 2024Various (within each school district)
Session 2April 17-19, 2024Austin
Session 3September 18-20, 2024Austin
Session 4January 15-17, 2025Austin
Session 5April 9-11, 2025*Austin
Session 6June 26-28, 2025Online


The above schedule is subject to change. 

Attendees will travel and arrive before the early morning start on the first day of training. Typically, travel will occur the day before training begins.

Please direct any questions about this program to Missy Bender, Trustee in Residence at [email protected].

“We aim to impact education policy by developing effective individual advocacy, effective team advocacy within a school board, and ultimately activating entire communities.”

– Missy Bender, Raise Your Hand Texas Trustee-In-Residence Missy Bender (Program Facilitator)

Missy Bender is a Raise Your Hand Texas Regional Advocacy Director and experienced superintendent and trustee thought partner.


subscribe & make
a difference

Subscribe to our e-newsletter for Texas education news, stories, policy insights, and ways to make a difference. We only use this information to send emails relevant to you and will never share this information with third parties.

Address (Required)(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.