Schott Foundation, Race Forward, and NYU's Metro Center Announces First Grants to Support Anti-Racist, Culturally Responsive Schools and Defend Against Attacks on Public Education

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Schott Foundation, Race Forward, and NYU's Metro Center Announces First Grants to Support Anti-Racist, Culturally Responsive Schools and Defend Against Attacks on Public Education

Today, the Schott Foundation for Public Education and its partners, Race Forward and NYU’s Metro Center, announce the first five grants of a united organizing effort to defend against anti-democratic attacks on public education and invest in a proactive, offensive strategy for racial justice reform in our public education system. 

The Invest Together Fund is the grantmaking vehicle and a sister initiative to Race Forward’s H.E.A.L. Together. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies are all key investors in the fund.

“A rising tide of Black, Brown and Indigenous community organizing has brought more inclusive and historically accurate education to public school students in districts and states across the country,” said Michael Wotorson, Director of Schott’s Opportunity to Learn Network. “Their impressive advances are now under attack by those seeking to stoke racial division and advance political agendas. We invite philanthropy to join us in investing in these grassroots organizations and leaders who are protecting and reimagining the public education system and an America for all of us. That is democracy and that is racial justice.”

The Invest Together Fund leverages Schott Foundation’s grantmaking capacity with Metro Center’s resource and tool development, supported by Race Forward, which is also coordinating and supporting groups nationally. The fund brings together this unusual alliance of a foundation, policy shop and movement builder to support family and youth groups across the country like those listed below; these groups are fighting attacks on anti-racist education and winning reforms in their cities and states. Invest Together lives side-by-side with Race Forward’s H.E.A.L Together, its multiracial movement of students, parents and educators.

“Our social justice movements are strong and are winning. In recent years, community organizing groups have turned years of base-building, leadership development, freedom dreaming, and direct action into transformative policy change in their schools,” said Dr. Fabienne Doucet, Metro Center’s Executive Director. “Racial justice doesn’t stop at the school door. Foundations that care about democracy should ensure that these multiracial groups have the resources to fight back against these well-funded right-wing attacks.” 

Hewlett Foundation’s Education Program is a key contributor to the Invest Together Fund. “Like many education funders, Hewlett sees public education as the key to upward mobility and success for all school children,” said Kent McGuire, Education Program Director for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “If we want to get to that goal, we cannot turn our backs on public education at a time when the enterprise is under assault. Helping communities advocate for equitable and effective schools is essential.”

“When we talk about these attacks, we have to really talk about the collateral damage on young people,” said Letha Muhammad, founder of the Education Justice Alliance, one of the grant recipients. “The very people that we're supposed to care about, who we're supposed to invest in as a society, these folks on the other side are saying, 'I'm willing to throw them away.'”

“We understand this critical, unprecedented moment in history requires us to think deeply about the multiracial future of this country,” said Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward and Publisher of Colorlines. “Race Forward launched the H.E.A.L Together Initiative to advocate for honest, accurate and fully funded education for everyone, and to fight back against those who deploy harmful and divisive narratives about the work of equity, inclusion, and justice. As we commit to uplifting the necessary work of these grassroots organizations to advance racial justice, we encourage funders to join us in helping to support their efforts to reimagine public education in a way that ensures all students thrive.”

The first round of grantees includes the following:

1. Education Justice Alliance – North Carolina

  • The Education Justice Alliance (EJA) is made up of parents, students and community-based organizations in Wake County, North Carolina. EJA works for an educational system that is effective, equitable, and inclusive. We promote racial, socio-economic, and gender equity. We seek to decrease unfair suspensions, expulsions, arrest, court referrals and to improve positive approaches to discipline that meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students.

2. Kenosha Education Justice Coalition - Wisconsin

  • The Kenosha coalition of parents, educators, students, and community and labor organizations works to protect and improve public education for all students so they thrive in the classroom and in their communities. They unite parents, students, educators, and community members to drive the transformation of public education, shift the public debate, and build a local movement for equity and opportunity for all.

3. Migrant Equity SouthEast – Georgia

  • Migrant Equity SouthEast is a Latinx and immigrant-led 501(c)(3) organization based in South Georgia. We’re here to advocate for immigrant rights and work directly with the migrant and refugee communities of South Georgia to bring them equitable access to resources available to citizens: health resources, educational resources, political resources as well as financial aid and food assistance.

4. Rights and Democracy Institute - Vermont and New Hampshire

  • The Rights & Democracy Institute (RDI) works across Vermont and New Hampshire to advance human rights and a healthy, just, and equitable future for our communities. Through grassroots organizing, transformative policy work, and supporting the development of a new generation of leaders from rural communities, particularly those that have been most impacted by harmful policies. RDI’s leadership development programs and issue-based campaigns encompass a range of organizational and movement-building work, including economic justice, education justice, racial justice, universal health care, climate justice, and childcare access.

5. Youth Organizers United – New Hampshire

  • Y.O.U., Young Organizers United, is the youth organizing wing of the Granite State Organizing Project. Y.O.U. is a group of high school youth from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds, who are dedicated to strengthening multi-issue and multi-racial coalitions designed to overcome disparate treatment and inequitable outcomes in Manchester high schools. Y.O.U. members believe in student voice, inclusivity, and equity for all learners.

Initiative Partners

The Schott Foundation for Public Education is a Black-led national public fund serving as a bridge between philanthropy and grassroots organizers to advance racial justice in public education. Schott directly funds BIPOC-led grassroots education justice coalitions across the country and strategically connects the education justice movement with other social justice efforts focused on providing an array of supports children and families need to have a fair and substantive opportunity to learn and thrive. Schott resources the largest national network of grassroots BIPOC youth and parent education equity and justice organizers - The Opportunity to Learn Network - including four national alliances, 306 local organizations, in 32 states, 54 cities actively coordinating 120,000 people and impacting over 800,000.

The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (NYU Metro Center) is dedicated to the pursuit of academic excellence and educational justice for all students. We partner with local and state educational agencies and community organizing groups to strengthen access, opportunity, and educational quality, particularly for young people, and particularly those from historically vulnerable groups. The Center accomplishes its mission through the implementation of high-quality research, strategic assistance to schools, districts, community and youth groups, and direct services to students, teachers, parents, administrators, policy makers, and organizations committed to equity and educational improvement. Our Education Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative (EJ-ROC) builds on the long tradition of movement-driven, community-derived research by providing critical data, research, policy and strategic support to the education justice movement.

Race Forward catalyzes movement building for racial justice. In partnership with communities, organizations, and sectors, we bring systemic analysis and innovative approaches to complex race issues to build strategies and help people take effective action to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture.

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