Get reacquainted
with Clay Aiken

Founder and chair of the National Inclusion Project, a nationwide training and advocacy organization for children with disabilities

former UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Education and Child Protection to Indonesia, Uganda, Afghanistan, and Somalia

former NC public school special education teacher — B.A. in Special Education from UNC Charlotte

National Center for Learning Disabilities, Children's Advocate

Clay Aiken is running for Congress to be a voice for those whose voices are not heard.

You may think you know him from TV, stage, or radio, but in the years since he came to the public eye Clay Aiken has learned his voice makes people listen.

After rising to success as a singer back in 2003, Clay quickly discovered that his newfound fame and the platform that came with it could be used to bring attention to the needs of those who couldn’t always fight for themselves. A trained special educator and longtime advocate for children with disabilities, Clay used his national attention to start what would become the National Inclusion Project, an organization with a mission to train and assist youth programs in making their environments and activities welcoming and accessible for children with disabilities. Since its founding in 2003, the National Inclusion Project has become the national leader in promoting inclusion of children with disabilities into programs alongside their non-disabled peers. Under Clay’s guidance as chairman, the organization has provided resources, training and accreditation for afterschool programs, summer camps, community centers and municipal parks and recreation departments in over 35 states.

It’s that same passion for speaking up for those who aren’t able to that led UNICEF to appoint Clay as their Goodwill Ambassador for education and child protection — a position he served in for a decade. During his time as ambassador, Clay worked on behalf of the organization in Indonesia, Uganda, Afghanistan, Mexico, Kenya, and Somalia, assisting programs that protected and educated children in areas devastated by both wars and natural disasters.

A lifelong resident of North Carolina’s 4th District, Clay is ready to use his voice for the people of his home to deliver on the policies his constituents and those around the country so desperately need – from stopping climate change, systemic racism, income inequality and gun violence, to securing voting rights, free health care, and a woman’s right to choose. Congress has stopped listening – it’s time to send a new voice…

America must modernize its social policies. With the demands of a 21st century economy and the reality working families face, the fact is, too many Americans are forced to make difficult decisions between raising a child or caring for their family and their livelihoods. To support North Carolina families, Clay will use his voice to:

  • Improve educational outcomes while simultaneously making it easier for parents to work, by funding and providing pre-K and afterschool programs for all children
  • Support the well-being of America’s children and work to eliminate child poverty by supporting the Family Security Act that would permanently provide a $250/month cash benefit to every school-aged child in America and a $350/month cash benefit to each child under 6 years of age, and allow parents to begin receiving the benefit up to 4 months prior to the birth of a child
  • Update the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to broaden the definition of “family” to include domestic partners, siblings, and grandparents to reflect the multigenerational makeup of more American families
  • Increase the Capital Magnet Fund to leverage federal money to boost levels of affordable housing availability and dramatically increase the amount of funding available for the Housing Choice Voucher Program

The stock market isn’t the only indicator of a strong economy. In America today we still have far too many people who are unable to find a job where they can support themselves and their family. That’s why investing in our workforce, lowering inflation, and creating opportunities for good-paying jobs is a top priority. To empower North Carolina’s workers, Clay will:

  • Increase the national minimum wage to $15/hour and index it for inflation
  • Strengthen Social Security and make payroll taxes more fair by immediately removing the cap on taxable earnings
  • Extend the Earned Income Tax Credit for an additional year for workers without children
  • Put an end to predatory, “payday” lenders (and simultaneously rescue the floundering USPS) by re-establishing postal banking services nationwide
  • Modernize the National Labor Relations Act and provide adequate funding and resources to crack down on corporations who use illegal tactics to prevent workers from unionizing
  • Eliminate tax loopholes and subsidies that reward companies who outsource jobs overseas
  • Restructure the tax code to demand that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share by closing loopholes on carried interest and increasing the tax rate on incomes over $400k a year

It still holds true that education is one of the best investments that can be made. But today, American investment in primary and secondary education is failing to set our students up for success, and the cost of higher education is unattainable for many and overly burdensome for almost all. To fulfill our promise to better educate North Carolina’s students, Clay will fight to:

  • Lower the cost of higher education by reinvesting in our universities, providing interest free student loans, and helping students burdened with crushing student loan debt
  • Make community college free for all and support students who choose to attend trade schools by heavily investing in those programs to create more avenues to the skills based careers that are in high demand around the country
  • Use tax incentives to reward employers who create apprenticeship programs that help train skilled workers for well paying careers
  • Increase funding for Title I and restructure the current legislation to incentivize and reward school districts that diversify schools
  • Create a national paraprofessional program to provide states and school districts with increased funding for teacher assistants and to provide education and pathways for those paraprofessionals to transition into teaching positions

Americans enjoy freedoms that citizens of other countries envy, but our nation’s past is filled with too many acts of racism, misogyny and bigotry; and our present is still healing from the scars. We are taught that America was founded on the principle of equality and opportunity, but for too many – especially women, Black, brown, and LGBT Americans – those promises remain unfulfilled. We must act to protect the lives and the liberties of ALL people, not just the privileged. To protect North Carolinian’s rights, Clay will speak up to:

  • Pass the Equality Act and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity
  • Protect our democracy and ensure that no American is restricted or inhibited from our most sacred right to vote by passing HR.1, the “For the People Act” and expanding the Voting Rights Act to require preclearance of changes to election laws in all 50 states
  • Codify Roe vs Wade and Planned Parenthood vs Casey into federal law to guarantee women the right to make private and personal decisions about their own bodies
  • Protect against abusive and deadly over-policing by demilitarizing police forces, banning no-knock warrants, ending “qualified immunity” and making it easier to prosecute bad cops and prevent them from working in law enforcement by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law

The United States has the most advanced medical treatments and research in the whole world. Yet, far too many Americans don’t have access to basic healthcare needs. We’ve become far too comfortable with this obvious failure. To secure healthcare for North Carolinians, Clay will use his voice to:

  • Immediately close the Medicaid coverage gap to provide affordable healthcare to those living in states like North Carolina where legislators have allowed pettiness and politics to block the Americans most in need of access
  • Reduce the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans by immediately changing the law to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices
  • Build a system that ensures free healthcare for all Americans by fighting for a single payer, Medicare-for-All national healthcare system

Climate change is an existential threat that cannot continue to be ignored. The fact is, carbon neutral is both a necessity and the future of the global economy. The United States needs to lead it. To protect North Carolina’s environment and rescue the planet, Clay will speak up to:

  • Win the economy of the future by investing in carbon neutral research and development, as well as skilled job training programs to train America’s workforce
  • Increase existing renewable energy tax credits to speed the adoption of clean energy systems by businesses
  • Prepare for a changing climate by rebuilding and creating more efficient and resilient infrastructure, creating thousands of good-paying jobs in the process
  • Invest heavily in R&D with technology companies to digitize the energy industry and expand and stabilize the clean energy power grid

America needs to continue its role in the world as the defender of freedom and democracy. Congress should insist upon a diplomacy first approach and work with our allies to cooperate on the world stage and promote our shared values. To help promote democracy and strengthen America’s leadership role in the world, Clay will encourage Congress to:

  • Create research and development partnerships with like-minded nations to collaborate on future innovation and set standards and norms for new technologies, like artificial intelligence, 5G, green energy storage, and cryptocurrencies
  • Build and lead an international cybersecurity alliance with fellow democratic countries who are on the forefront of tech and innovation
  • Support the responsible development of digital assets and maintain American leadership in this growing space
  • Maintain robust funding for USAID to continue to provide development and civil assistance to developing nations and strengthen ties with the emerging democracies