Meet Andrew Anderson, an eighth grader at Markham Middle School. We connected to discuss his student experiences and recent participation in Partnership’s Advocacy Days in Sacramento, CA. Read more below. 

As the name implies, Partnership’s Advocacy Days gather community members to advocate for stronger education policies and practices to close opportunity and achievement gaps in the state’s capitol. Andrew was motivated to participate due to the lack of representation in positions of power and his commitment to his community. As one of the first middle school students to attend, his goal was to inspire his peers and encourage their future involvement.

“Upon returning to Watts, I shared my experience with my family, friends, and principal Kawasaki. They were filled with pride to know that I had taken the steps to make a difference and create a more inclusive future,” he said. 

Andrew’s favorite part of the three-day trip included meeting with legislators and their staff. It topped his list because it allowed him to advocate for educational equity. Seeing familiar faces, like Senator Steven Bradford and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, added a personal touch that made Andrew feel more connected and supported. Carrillo welcomed the group in the assembly chamber, gifted them state assembly pins, and helped Andrew pin his on his shirt. Sitting in on a committee hearing also provided valuable insights into legislative processes, and touring the Capitol building enriched his understanding of California’s history.

When asked about his interest in the Partnership’s policy priorities, tackling the digital divide strongly resonated with Andrew. Reflecting on his experience with virtual schooling, he recalled how many in his community did not have internet access or devices. As part of the training for the advocacy days, he was surprised to learn that internet service providers charged wealthier individuals less for better quality internet, while less affluent communities paid more for lower quality service. This revelation encouraged his support for Assembly Bill 2239—Digital Discrimination of Access: Prohibition—which addresses unfair restrictions on broadband access based on income, race, ethnicity, and color.

In speaking to legislators and staff, Andrew noticed they were genuinely listening, which made him feel empowered. He realized his voice mattered in shaping policies that support communities and students. 

Participating in Partnership’s Advocacy Days is just the beginning of Andrew’s presence in government. He was recently invited to Los Angeles City Hall where Councilmember Tim McKosker recognized him for his exceptional academic and community service achievements, including being a two-time Jr. Youth of the Year award recipient at the Boys and Girls Club of Carson.