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NASBE Partners with Elevate to Improve Water Safety in Schools

The year-long project will uncover challenges of school testing programs for lead in water and identify best practices for policy guidance and lead remediation efforts.

NASBE is pleased to announce a new partnership with Elevate, a Chicago-based environmental nonprofit, to investigate state policies and programs that govern lead testing and affect water quality practices in schools. The partners will make policy recommendations for state boards of education and other policymakers to help ensure school drinking water is safe.

In the unveiling of a new trillion-dollar infrastructure investment plan, President Biden noted that many of the nation’s schools have unsafe drinking water. No federal law currently requires schools to test their drinking water for lead, and recent reports from the Government Accountability Office reveal a dearth of lead testing of water or paint in school buildings. According to NASBE’s State Policy Database on School Health, 29 states require districts to address water quality in schools. Today only 13 states including the District of Columbia require school-based testing of lead in drinking water.

“The pandemic has drawn appropriate attention to the crumbling infrastructure of many of our nation’s schools, including unsafe drinking water,” said NASBE President and CEO Robert Hull. “For far too long, we have asked too many students, especially in under-resourced districts, to learn in spaces that we as adults would never be satisfied to work in. Even at very low levels, lead exposure in children contributes to learning deficits and behavioral and attentional problems. Our partnership with Elevate will advance the national conversation on school infrastructure and safety and empower leaders on state boards of education to ensure that all students have access to safe drinking water.”

With support from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, NASBE and Elevate are studying the current policy landscape of lead testing and water safety in schools and drawing on public health experts and state and school officials to produce a report synthesizing research, policies, and best practices for addressing lead in drinking water at schools. Most importantly, NASBE and Elevate will provide actionable recommendations for state boards of education and other policymakers to help ensure that school drinking water is safe.

“For over a decade, Elevate has been actively addressing and advocating for the mitigation of lead hazards, particularly in school and childcare settings,” said Elevate CEO Anne Evans. “We’re excited to bring our expertise to this NASBE project to help states take preventative, active measures to protect students and staff against lead exposure now and in the future.”


NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. 

Elevate is a nonprofit organization that works nationally and is headquartered in Chicago. Elevate designs and implements programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most. Elevate is an expert in water safety and is the administer for LeadCare Illinois, a state-wide lead in water testing program. Learn more at

The Joyce Foundation is a nonpartisan private foundation that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. We support policy research, development, and advocacy in five areas: Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, Democracy and Culture. Joyce focuses its grant making in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and partners with funders to explore promising policy solutions in other states or at the federal level. Learn more at


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