How the Rising Leaders Initiative Made Me a Better Advocate

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student Lainey Crafton smiling

My name is Lainey Crafton and I am a senior at Palmetto Scholars Academy in South Carolina. This year I was honored to participate in the Rising Leaders Initiative from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a program designed for charter high school students to become advocates for public education nationally and in their communities.

Through this program, I learned how to use and amplify my voice in advocacy through the many opportunities offered through the initiative.

Connections with Leaders in Education

We learned from many professionals in the field, such as former Congressman Carlos Curbelo, a board member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. He talked to us about his experience in congress and how to move forward in the advocacy world.

Media Training to Amplify My Voice

Along with meeting various esteemed professionals, we were given multiple resources to advance our knowledge of charter schools and advocacy through monthly workshops. One of my favorite workshops was a media training in which I learned how to address the media properly. The trainings pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Opportunities to Build My Advocacy and Leadership Skills

One of our goals for this year was to create an advocacy club within our schools. This idea intimidated me however, through the guidance of the program, I pushed past my fears to create a club I love.

At my school, I established a civic advocacy club that encourages students to take action and become involved and aware of politics, especially related to education. In March, we are hosting a voter registration drive to register those in my school and community to vote.


Without the Rising Leaders Initiative program, I would not have been able to achieve these accomplishments. I was able to learn and grow substantially as a person and advocate.

I encourage students like me to apply to be part of the 2023-24 cohort today!


Alayna (Lainey) Crafton is a senior at Palmetto Scholars Academy in South Carolina and part of the inaugural class of the Rising Leaders Initiative.