FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2022
Communities for Just Schools Fund
Communities for Just Schools Fund Moves $5.1 Million to 64 Education Justice Grassroots Organizing Groups Across North America
National Collaborative Announces its Largest Grantmaking Year to Date
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) announced that they moved $5.1 million in grants to grassroots organizing groups in 2021. CJSF is a national collaborative that brings together the resources of philanthropy and the power of grassroots organizing to ensure schools welcome and nurture all students.
The collaborative provides multi-year general operating support grants to 64 grassroots organizing groups in 22 states, Puerto Rico, Ontario, Canada, and Washington, D.C. The majority of grants range in size from $100,000-$400,000. They also mobilize rapid response support. Their partner network includes youth organizers, intergenerational organizing groups, parent organizers, and teacher organizers. CJSF partners organize around dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, ensuring police-free schools, investing in culturally affirming social-emotional learning and mental health supports, centering liberatory curricula and pedagogy, and more. In essence, they work to ensure that schools are holistically — physically, emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually — safe, particularly for Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQ+ young people, and young people with disabilities.
2021 was a historic grantmaking year for CJSF. It was their largest grantmaking year to date. Not only does CJSF provide general operating support, but they create and facilitate space for organizers to share strategies and learn from one another about persistent, morphing, and emergent threats, especially amid pushback to police-free schools and teaching the truth.
"2021’s grantmaking is the new floor from which CJSF will seek to build increased and sustained support for education justice organizers. In 2022 and beyond, we will deepen our grantmaking commitments and will support others in philanthropy to do the same,” says Jaime Koppel, Co-Director of Communities for Just Schools Fund." We will expand our investments in technical assistance and organizational capacity-building for education justice organizers, support connections across local and federal education strategies, and invest in healing and wellness supports for our partners who have been on the frontlines before and through this pandemic. We will also launch our next community of practice to engage with our partners in defining and uplifting the centrality of culturally-sustaining pedagogy and the importance of fostering educational environments that are holistically safe.”
CJSF's rapid response fund supported grassroots groups in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, as well as organizations that requested resources to deepen their investment in mental health supports for staff. It also included support for long-time movement leaders as they transitioned out of leadership roles in order to create space for new movement leaders.
"Resourcing transformative organizing requires that funders suspend preconceived notions of what ‘success’ looks like," says CJSF Program Associate Allie McCullen. "Education justice organizers are mobilizing their communities toward tangible policy wins and deep investments in safe and welcoming public schools. However, they are also modeling new ways of being in the world. They practice deep relationship-building and non-hierarchical organizational structures while designing political education programs that are responsive to the needs of individuals and the collective. They do this all while ensuring that members’ most basic needs are met. Community organizing groups are re-imagining what it means to be in ‘right relationship’ with ourselves, with one another, with the land, and with the new community-designed systems they are breathing into life. For funders to be in ‘right relationship’ with organizers means that they are willing to invest in the whole picture through both seasons of abundance and of transformation."
CJSF’s multi-year grantmaking commitment to the grassroots groups it resources models their understanding that organizing and building power takes time and requires sustained, long-term resources. In addition to their priority to fund grassroots organizing, CJSF works to mobilize philanthropy to deepen and commit to trust-based philanthropy and disrupt the harms of the sector.
Since 2010, CJSF’s priorities have been to fund in the field of education justice organizing, build the capacity of grassroots organizations to intensify their impact on education systems, connect individuals and concepts related to education justice across sectors, and lead in philanthropy on issues of education justice. CJSF was launched by individuals in philanthropy who understood that, in the ecosystem of education justice, grassroots organizers are the least resourced and the most impactful. As a part of the movement ecosystem, CJSF works to ensure that grassroots organizers have the resources and support they need to build and sustain their vision for a just education system in which love and belonging are central. Since 2016, CJSF has moved almost $21 million in grants.
To see a full list of our partners and members, please visit our website.
To learn more about the work of CJSF and our partners:
Do the Harder Work: Create Cultures of Connectedness in Schools
Reclaim SEL: Centering Organizing Praxis for Holistically Safe Schools
Communities for Just Schools Fund is a national collaborative that provides resources in support of community-led organizations that are working to ensure positive, safe and supportive school climates that protect and affirm the inherent cultural dignity of all students and foster the success of all students. Learn more at cjsfund.org.