Skip to main content


  • Urban Education Network
    of Iowa
    Your partner in advocating for public schools
    at the Iowa Statehouse!
  • Making sense of legislation and
    what it means for Iowa schools
    Providing weekly updates during the legislative session
  • Facilitating connections between members
    and member districts
    UEN Job Alike Groups meet regularly
Supporting Iowa's Urban Public Schools

Urban Education Network of Iowa

A consortium of Iowa's largest public school districts formed to represent the unique characteristics of urban public schools as well as issues related to all of Iowa's public schools.


Developing and identifying tools and resources to advocate for urban schools and connect with legislators


Facilitating connections and sharing resources among UEN members through job alike groups, our annual meeting, and more


Offering programs, services and resources to help members and supporters of UEN and public education

Who We Are

The Urban Education Network is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1993 and now includes twenty-four of Iowa's largest school districts as members. Our members are all classified as urban in nature.


Common Characteristics of Urban School Districts:

- Population density
- Cultural, social and economic diversity
- Broad ethnic representation
- Extensive transportation system
- Two or more comprehensive high schools and/or 10,000 or more students
- 3,000 students combined with certain concentrations of the student population identified as free/reduced-price lunch eligible, minority enrollment, special education services, English-language learners, and other metrics of diversity 

UEN Mission

The Urban Education Network keeps the state's lawmakers, the media, and the public informed about the progress and problems in our state's largest and most diverse public school districts. We do this through advocacy, legislation, communications and research.


The UEN also helps to build capacity in urban education by facilitating connections between member districts to improve student academic performance and narrow achievement gaps, improve professional development; and strengthen leadership, governance, and management.


In addition, joint efforts with other state organizations and policymakers extend the UEN's influence and effectiveness outside member school districts to the broader community that will ultimately benefit from the contributions of today's urban students. All members of the UEN help determine program priorities. For guidance, the members rely upon data retrieved from local, state, regional and national sources. In addition, specific issues arise addressing contemporary events, legislative concerns and current trends.


The priorities of the UEN continually evolve, reflecting the changing needs of urban students, families and communities.

Help Advocate for Public Schools

Support for public schools is needed now more than ever. After several years of low funding for public schools in Iowa, school districts are being asked to do more with less.


Here's how you can help.

  • Get to know your legislators – find out who represents your local school district and their core values and positions on issues
  • Learn about the priorities of your school district – learn about which issues are most important your local school board and students
  • Contact your legislators – ask them to support the issues important to you, your family, and your local school district
  • Support your local school district – join an advocacy committee, volunteer to help your local school, donate to your school's foundation, send a thank you note to school leaders, share the good news happening in your public schools around the community, or run for the school board


UEN has resources to help.

Facts About UEN Members

During the 2023-24 school year, the UEN Membership was made up of 10 of Iowa's largest districts in urban communities with two or more high schools, along with 14 other large school districts with one high school and other urban tendencies. Below are some facts about the 24 UEN member districts based on the 2023-24 school year.

Number of Iowa's PK-12 Students Enrolled in UEN Member Districts
Percentage of Iowa's PK-12 minority students
Percentage of Iowa's PK-12 black students
Percentage of Iowa's PK-12 hispanic students
Number of Iowa's limited English speaking students
Number of Iowa's students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Percentage of Iowa's K-12 low income students (free and reduced lunch eligible students)
Percentage of Iowa's PK-12 certified staff
Percentage of Iowa's school principals
Learn about bills on the move, calls for action, recent UEN testimony and more

Latest Reports from the Statehouse

Capitol Update - 04/25/2024
Capitol Update - April 25, 2024

 UEN Legislative Update

Capitol Update - 04/21/2024
Capitol Update - April 21, 2024

 UEN Legislative Update

Capitol Update - 04/19/2024
Capitol Update - April 19, 2024

 UEN Legislative Update

Capitol Update - 04/11/2024
Capitol Update - April 11, 2024

 UEN Legislative Update

Capitol Update - 04/04/2024
Capitol Update - April 4, 2024

 UEN Legislative Update

Our members serve students in urban schools across the state of Iowa.

Our Members

UEN offers many tools and resources to help with effective advocacy

Advocacy Tools

UEN Legislative Priorities

UEN Legislative Priorities

Representatives from UEN member districts come together to develop the Legislative Priorities for the organization. The Priorities are approved annually by the UEN Steering Committee. View UEN's 2024 Legislative Priorities.

UEN Issue Briefs

UEN Issue Briefs

UEN Issue Briefs explain why these legislative issues are important to UEN member districts, provide advocacy messages and talking points, and define actions we request be taken by the Governor and Legislators.

UEN Legislative Digest

UEN Legislative Digest

Produced annually, the UEN Legislative Digest is a summary of all of the details and legislative actions impacting schools that took place during the most recent legislative session.


UEN Advocacy Handbook*

UEN Advocacy Handbook*

The UEN Advocacy Handbook is designed to provide information to advocate on behalf of urban schools in Iowa, both at the Statehouse during the legislative session, and also at the local district throughout the year.

Connecting with Legislators*

Connecting with Legislators*

Tools and links to help you find your legislators and their contact information, as well as suggested advocacy action steps, sample questions for talking to legislators and a worksheet to help craft your message.

Advocacy Action Steps & Message Worksheet*

Advocacy Action Steps & Message Worksheet*

Use this message organizer to advocate successfully by preparing your message, determining your advocacy action steps, and finding common ground with legislators or candidates.

Contact Us

UEN can provide expertise on how legislation impacts schools and much more. Have questions, reach out to us today!

Interested in Getting Involved?