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.
The advancement of school discipline reform has been a bright spot among what often feels like a sea of bad news in education. Coalitions like the Dignity in Schools Campaign and national groups like the Advancement Project and NAACP have long highlighted the unjust, inequitable and ineffective school discipline policies that far too many children attend school under. Studies consistently show the school-to-prison pipeline is built on a bedrock of white supremacist, patriarchal, heteronormative and ableist biases. Fortunately, innovative cross-sector organizing uniting young people, parents and educators have been able to push positive reform policies in states and districts across the country — first by curbing harmful punishments like suspensions and expulsions, and then by introducing positive policies to replace them, like restorative practices and accountability processes that center healing instead of punishment. However, a new report shows just how uneven these reforms have been implemented, and how desperately far many states and districts need to go.
Local public schools and their educators have produced America’s most brilliant artists, scientists, doctors, musicians, lawyers, presidents, and more — people from all walks of life, contributing to society in countless ways. Are you or someone you know graduating in 2019 from a public high school? Help us lift up the importance of public education — with a chance to win a $1,000 college scholarship!
It’s been sixty-five years since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision signalled the beginning of a profound shift in public education across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court in refuting the doctrine of “separate but equal” was not acting alone, but was reflecting a long-held understanding held by Black communities throughout the segregated South — communities organizing and mobilizing together, shaking the chains of Jim Crow and the firmament of white supremacy that held them in place.
Children with chronic health concerns can't learn when their poorly managed conditions keep them out of class. Students traumatized by unstable living conditions or chronic disadvantage can't focus on homework or engage their peers. Parents working full-time jobs for minimum wage cannot afford the same extracurricular, health, and academic supports that wealthier families purchase to help their children get ahead. Every year, more research supports the common-sense notion that academic success is inextricably linked to a child's health, housing, and family income—and underscores the urgent need for more support.
Since Schott made our first grant to an inspiring community-led organization fighting for education justice in the Chicago public schools—the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO)—we’ve remained allies as it’s grown into a national network. Through KOCO’s leadership, the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) is now a diverse, intergenerational network of 35 community-based organizations in 22 cities. J4J is organizing to build Black- and Brown- led multiracial coalitions to win victories for equity at local and national levels.
The following is testimony in support of the Education PROMISE Act (S.238/H.586), which aims to provide public schools the funding they need to deliver high-quality, equitable education across Massachusetts.
You would be hard-pressed to pick up a newspaper, scroll through an online media platform, or check social media without being bombarded with stories on the U.S. college admissions scandal. It’s been fodder for daytime and late-night television, grist for comedic satire, and a source of anger and frustration. For millions of students who have gone out of their way to prove, often to a skeptical and disbelieving audience, that they earned their spot on campus, the scandal is a hard slap in the face. While some buy their way into college, others—especially students of color—have paid in blood, sweat, and tears.
You’ll find useful tips for using social media to gain support for a policy in a recent blog post by the Public Leadership Institute. The Institute’s constituency is primarily state and local elected leaders, but the suggestions of how to craft social media messages to persuade, not merely speak to your already committed base, are applicable to education justice organizations waging policy campaigns. The post is a concise summary of three communications “rules” designed to expand awareness to new audiences and “provide a persuasive bridge from their preconceptions to your policy solutions.” Well worth a read.
A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that teacher strikes work and have led to substantial increases in K-12 school funding in states where strikes occurred "Despite last year’s improvements, however, formula funding remains well below 2008 levels" in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia, states that made the deepest cuts over the last decade. Progress is still short of what's needed and funding mechanisms may be unsustainable.
This weekend, Our Voice Our Schools coalition is gathering a group of community practitioners and activists to come together at Denver University and align around a comprehensive agenda for education justice in Denver. The goal of the event: to move from 'talk' to action by creating a comprehensive Loving School System agenda that highlights the systemic changes and investments needed to truly provide Black children in Denver their right to free, high-quality public education.