The National Newspaper Publishers Association is pleased to announce it has received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding will support a three-year, multimedia public awareness campaign focused on the unique opportunities and challenges of the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act.

Under the ESSA, states will adhere to more flexible federal regulations that provide for improved elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools. The law also ensures that every child, regardless of race, income, background or where the child lives has the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education.

The ESSA, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary School Act and replaces No Child Left Behind, received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama Dec. 10, 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and will go into effect Jan. 30, 2017.

With this grant, the NNPA will engage its 211-member Black-owned newspapers in more than 70 markets across the country in a campaign designed to heighten public awareness of the ESSA, and to focus on efforts and policies aimed at closing the achievement gaps for students of color and low-income students.

By raising awareness of ESSA policies, the NNPA seeks to empower parents to advocate for these policies for their students and communities. In addition, for opinion leaders, this campaign is a tremendous opportunity to support policies and issues that will make a difference in closing the achievement gap.

The NNPA, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a trade association of the largest and most influential Black-owned media organizations in the United States.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., NNPA president, said the organization and its members are uniquely positioned to inform and advocate for the effective implementation of the ESSA, which he categorized as the most significant civil rights and education law today. “NNPA will be in the forefront of informing our readers of efforts to drive support for high standards, assessments, accountability, and equity in education and to ensure that we close the achievement gap,” Chavis said. “Despite the name change, no child should be left behind due to an inequitable education system.”

NNPA Chairman Denise Rolark Barnes said she is “proud that NNPA will be counted on to get the word out about ESSA to our 20 million newspaper readers and those who follow and like us on social media.”

She added, “We look forward to inciting interest and action around ESSA and making it a household name throughout the community.”

“With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal—that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the ZIP code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will,” President Obama said when he signed the bill into law last December.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, issued the following statement when the final regulations were released in November: “Passing ESSA was a critical step in our work to make sure all children have access to a high-quality public education, no matter where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make. ”

The NNPA will lead efforts to inform and engage communities across the country, beginning now through November 2019, by creating editorial content, coordinating special events, using social media to broadcast community announcements and coordinating ad buys in member publications and digital platforms.

The NNPA is a national trade association of approximately 211 Black and women-owned U.S. media companies with a weekly print and digital readership of more than 20.1 million Black Americans. The Black press in America is 190 years old. The NNPA is known as the Black Press of America and the Voice of Black America because of its publishers who are trusted, respected and embedded in their local communities, where they provide significant influence and impact.