Members of Save the Children Action Network spoke to presidential candidate Robert "Beto" O'Rourke during his trip to Iowa State.

As presidential candidates move through Iowa for caucus season, one student group at Iowa State is drawing their eyes to a specific cause: children.

The Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) is a student organization of Iowa State working toward providing children with better lives and brighter futures.

SCAN declares itself as “a bipartisan political action organization that engages the campus community on policy issues affecting kids — mainly early childhood education in the United States and maternal and newborn survival internationally.”

Jake Gilson, a junior in political science and student ambassador for SCAN, describes it as “an organization to help children succeed domestically and internationally.”

Gilson said the different aspects of problems are addressed by the organization, both domestically and internationally.

Within the United States, SCAN works towards the betterment of children’s home lives, such as child care and what type of education they are receiving. Internationally, SCAN works to ensure a safe and promising future for children in war zones, poverty and unsafe environments.

“We raise money and we donate to help our cause,” Gilson said. “I just came back from a summit in Washington, and we stood all day on Capitol Hill advocating for SCAN. We asked many representatives of multiple states to help support us in the cause.”

This organization works towards providing the opportunity for students at Iowa State to partake in this cause by involving themselves in the political process, and Gilson said the organization encourages individuals to develop independence on raising their voices for issues affecting children and working towards the greater good of the cause.


Members of Save the Children Action Network lobbied Rep. Steve King in Washington D.C. during their annual summit.

SCAN encourages their members to individualize their voices by attending and advocating at political events, participating in petition collections and deliveries, reaching out to the media by writing letters to editors of local newspapers and calling representatives, encouraging them to be supportive of their continuous cause to benefit the lives of children.

“There are typically a couple events every semester, and we have the summit, and the League of Action where we’re not really lobbying, but it’s during those events where we teach people how to advocate and encourage them to write letters,” Gilson said. “We have to advocate for these issues, because those who are affected can’t advocate on their own.”

Gilson said he is motivated to work towards this cause due to a personal past with seeing the effects that having an unsupportive home life has on young children.

“My mom is a school teacher, and I have sat in during her class and have seen kids who can’t get their school work done because they live in an unsupportive home and it is abusive where they go to bed at night,” Gilson said. “At the end of the day, it’s about education and how to teach kids at an early age to be successful.”

Save the Children is an open membership club on campus. Gilson said they want to increase their membership numbers and activity on campus in the future.

“Advocating is really what SCAN is all about,” Gilson said. “We just care about kids, and we just want to get the best for kids.”

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