National Opportunity to Learn Network

Schott’s Opportunity to Learn Network (OTL) unites a nationwide coalition of Schott grantees and allied organizations working to secure a high quality public education for all students.

By creating a space to highlight and celebrate grassroots organizing, share success stories and provide resources, OTL strives to create real and substantial change in our public education system. OTL advocates for supports­-based education reform, one that provides all students with access to crucial resources and opportunities such as early education, wraparound supports, fair school discipline, well­-supported teachers, and equitable school funding. To support our network of advocates and organizers, OTL provides regular updates on current grantee campaigns, publishes policy guides, infographics and other resources, and hosts summits and other network building events, all of which can be found below.

The Latest from the OTL Network

The latest from the Schott Foundation and our allies.
This fall we find ourselves in a confluence of crises: the economic crisis hurting households across the country, the dangers of re-opening during COVID-19, police brutality on the streets and in schools, massive dislocation of families due to climate wildfires, and now Trump’s White House is trying to punish educators for teaching about the history of racial injustice and white supremacy that continues in our country. On September 30th, Black educators and advocates discussed how we can navigate the present moment and also reimagine the future of teaching and learning. What can we learn from the liberation struggles of the past to inform and inspire our current work? What are students, parents, educators, and community members doing right now that we should support and defend?
Philanthropy isn’t known for being a quick and nimble sector. When change does come it’s the result of long and dedicated work by those in the field and their funder allies. From our founding, Schott has pushed philanthropy to adopt a race and gender equity framework, and a new generation of advocates and funders are joining a growing chorus. In that spirit, this week a new fund was launched with an audacious goal. The Black Girl Freedom Fund is raising one billion dollars over the next ten years to address the myriad of interconnected problems facing Black girls and young women. As the fund’s open letter puts it:
On August 20, 2020, The People’s Think Tank (PTT), an intersectional movement space for re-imagining a radically democratic future for education justice, held a virtual convening: COVID-19 and Mass Protests: Lessons Learned and Future Directions. The online gathering brought together more than thirty of PTT’s fifty-plus members, which included a diverse representation of the educational justice movement and social justice allies. Together, members engaged in a deep conversation about how the education justice movement is responding to the COVID-19 crisis and the rise of mass protests against police killings and systemic racism.
In our democracy, the federal government has been the entity that the people looked to take steps  to ensure educational equity. President Trump is dangerously intent on reversing the role of the federal government on equity and public education. Last week, Trump threatened to withdraw federal funding from California public schools that use the 1619 Project curriculum. That educational program is based on Pulitzer Prize winner and Schott Foundation Fellow Nikole Hannah-Jones’ in-depth exploration of the legacy of Blacks in America since 1619, the year that the first African slaves were brought to our shores. Trump doesn’t dispute that historical fact—even he can’t dub it “fake news,” so he doubles down on the notion, embraced by too many, that slavery is now over, no legacy or current injustices exist, end of conversation. With his penchant for extremism, he even claims it’s un-American to teach our children this history.
As the 2020 population numbers will shape how political power and over 800 million dollars will be shared in the U.S. over the next ten years, an accurate Census count is of monumental importance, especially to communities of color. Schott Grantee partner Southern Echo understands this and has engaged its volunteers to ensure that their community is counted in the 2020 census. What does the Census have to do with public education? A lot. The Census determines where and how $14 billion in federal public education funds will be allocated. Through programs like Title I, the National School Lunch Program, Head Start, and special education grants, these are dollars that will decide whether a school stays open or closed, or if a district can hire school nurses and support staff.
A recent QCityMetro profile of Black philanthropists featured Schott President & CEO Dr. John H. Jackson. In the profile John describes the intersection of philanthropy, racial justice, public education, and grassroots movements — precisely where he and the Schott Foundation do our work.
Schott Foundation President & CEO Dr. John H. Jackson and Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Executive Director Keron Blair talk about racial injustice, inequities in public education, and how COVID-19 has revealed the lovelessness of institutions toward Black children and their families.
Leading organizers in the educational justice movement discuss how the last ten years of parent and youth organizing helped lay the foundation for the emergence of mass protests and the campaign for police free schools and where the movement is going.
Communities are more than just the places we live and work, they are our homes. They are where we meet friends and partners, where we start families and raise children. They can also be places that cause joy and pain. That pain is often targeted, methodical and overwhelmingly impacts Black people. This pain doesn’t come from the city itself, but it actually is rooted in the lack of love that grows out of the policies and practices created by often misguided elected leaders.  This month, the Schott Foundation for Public Education released the second phase of its Loving Cities Index, which provides a comprehensive look at the systemic racism prevalent across education, health, and economic opportunity in ten of America’s largest cities. 
Today, August 3, is the National Day of Resistance by the Demand Safe Schools Coalition. This coalition, a nationwide partnership between community advocates and educators, has "come together to unite students, educators, parents and community to advance a racial justice agenda in public education, in particular by organizing for police-free schools. We’re working to galvanize a strong and growing student/educator/parent/community voice; a voice that says the government must go much further to provide the resources to ensure a safe and equitable school reopening and must provide for our communities and working families through transformational Common Good demands."