The Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF), a project of the New Venture Fund, is a nationally-focused donor collaborative. CJSF provides resources in support of community led organizations that are working to ensure positive and supportive school climates that affirm and foster the success of all students.
CJSF awards grants to groups that organize young people, parents and caregivers, educators, and other community members to advocate on behalf of students who are disproportionately impacted by the over-use of exclusionary school discipline practices, including suspensions, expulsions, and arrests in schools. There are far too many students who find themselves being policed and targeted for exclusion from their schools because of flawed school policies and practices and flawed perceptions of them and their communities. The organizations supported by CJSF are local in focus and have national impact and reach. They organize community members to stand up for positive, healthy, and supportive school climates that produce better academic and social outcomes for the students who enroll than school climates with a heavy police presence, zero tolerance school discipline policies, and over-reliance on exclusionary discipline methods.
CJSF’s community partners educate students, parents and caregivers, school officials and teachers, police departments, and community leaders on highly beneficial alternatives to suspension, expulsion, and school-based arrests.
Currently, the Communities for Just Schools Fund includes support and participation from: the Andrus Family Fund, Arcus Foundation, Casey Family Programs, Cricket Island Foundation, Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, Ford Foundation, Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Hyams Foundation, NEA Foundation, NoVo Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Public Welfare Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Schott Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Stuart Foundation, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Originally launched in 2010 as the Just and Fair Schools Fund, CJSF underwent a significant transition five years later, in 2015. With a new name, new fiscal sponsor (the New Venture Fund), new staff, new location in Washington, D.C., and a growing membership of donors, CJSF continues to support its grantees in the evolving field of school discipline reform.
That support is taking place in a changing national and global environment that includes the Movement for Black Lives, public attention on racial justice and police reform, and renewed philanthropic attention to tackling structural racism as well as critical successes in the school discipline reform movement. The field of school discipline reform is evolving to be more expansive in scope (e.g., to include a focus on creating healthy school climates and ensuring educational equity) and in representation (e.g., to include teachers and educators), and Communities for Just Schools Fund community partners are leading the charge into the next phase of work.
In the current landscape, CJSF is well positioned to augment and promote the systems reform work of its community partners, lead philanthropic discussions on the topic of equity in schools, and engage with government agencies and representatives as they consider and implement related actions.
CJSF’s activities include:
direct grants to organizations and campaigns;
capacity-building support for established and emerging organizations and leaders;
donor education and engagement to expand knowledge and support of these issues; and
fund leveraging to increase the resources available for community-led organizing.