Across the country, we're working with our grantees for educational justice

The Schott Foundation has been having an exciting few weeks of traveling around the country to share ideas, meet allied organizations, and see the work and future plans of our grantees highlighted in a variety of forums and conferences. These covered a wide range of crucial issues, from school takeovers, to youth organizing, to grantmaking practices, to school discipline and juvenile justice reform. The Schott Foundation had the opportunity to present on some of these issues, and our grantees shared their work as well. It’s been great to see innovative and important conversations happening, and we’re glad to share with you some of the highlights!

On April 6th, the Coalition for Community Schools’ National Forum got off to a great start with more than 1700 attendees gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico to discuss why community schools are so important and how to implement them in communities across the nation. Researchers, advocates, parents, and teachers shared strategies and success stories throughout the conference. The Schott Foundation’s Senior Vice President of National Partnerships, Cassie Schwerner, was there to hear all about this great work being done on community schools, and to see Schott’s own work presented on Healthy Living and Learning Communities.

Schott grantees were also featured, with Reclaim Our Schools leading a panel and sharing their ideal vision for community schools:

Another grantee, the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) got huge accolades for their comments on restorative justice and the importance of youth voices. Student leaders Carlos Rojas and Teena-Marie Johnson showed everyone the value of youth leadership with their intelligent and pertinent comments.

We’re also excited to congratulate our grantee, the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, for receiving the Community Schools Family and Community Advocate award!

Switching to Baltimore, our Vice President for Programs and Advocacy Edgar Villanueva and our President & CEO John Jackson participated in the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Men and Boys of Color conference on April 6th & 7th. Conference participants talked about the recent #BanTheBox Philanthropy Challenge, an initiative led by the Executives’ Alliance in the philanthropic community that works to increase employment opportunities. 42 foundations have signed on, including the Schott Foundation. Other key issues discussed were youth justice, such as juvenile incarceration and school discipline reform.

Meanwhile Ellen Meltzer, our Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, attended Grade Level Reading’s Funder to Funder Huddle on April 7th and 8th. Besides the great chances to connect with other funders, there was also a panel on ESSA and opportunity.

You can see more from the event with #glrhuddle.

Also on April 7th in Baltimore, Edgar spoke on a panel at ABFE’s Empower Philanthropy conference about the unique issues facing Southern education campaigning and organizing.

Our grantee Kimberle Crenshaw, of the AA Policy Forum, presented their work on the Black Girls Matter report. Crenshaw’s talk clearly resonated with in-person audience members and online followers, especially her firm stance that “you cannot mentor your way out of failing schools.”

While Edgar was at ABFE2016, John spoke at the American Education Research Association’s conference on the 8th in Washington, D.C. An article written about the event highlighted his discussion of Schott’s work, which you can read here. This huge conference brought together countless researchers and advocates to share ideas and new research on issues facing education.

On the 10th, Ellen attended the Council on Foundations’ Annual Conference, also in Washington, D.C. The conference’s big themes this year were Education, Climate, and Justice Reform, which were reflected in interesting panels on topics like juvenile justice and new possibilities in ESSA.

The following week Cassie, Edgar, and John all attended the Network for Public Education’s annual conference, which the Schott Foundation was proud to help support. The conference covered a broad range of issues and problems facing public education, with advocates and organizers all over the country coming together to share their goals and recent work. Panels discussed cultural competence and creating culturally inviting classrooms, the opt-out movement and assessment practices, charter school accountability, youth organizing, and the school to prison pipeline.

Our grantee, the Journey for Justice Alliance, featured prominently at the conference, especially through their leadership on community organizing within communities of color. The national director of the alliance, Jitu Brown, shared powerful stories about the Fight for Dyett hunger strike. The alliance also shared a facilitator's’ guide to a grassroots-focused listening process that reveals how communities are affected by education reform and school takeover.

These past weeks have been busy but incredibly productive! Connecting with our grantees, other funders, and other stakeholders in public education provides much needed perspective on the multitude of strategies necessary for working towards equitable education. While things have settled down slightly, keep an eye out during May for more Schott participation at these types of events. In the meantime, be sure to follow us at @SchottFound for the latest updates on our work and our grantees!