Who We Are
Communities for Just Schools Fund is a national collaborative that links philanthropy with the power of grassroots organizing to transform schools. CJSF was started in 2010 by individuals in philanthropy who understood that, in the ecosystem of education justice, grassroots organizers are the least resourced and the most impactful. We are part of an arc that began with Black parents in Mississippi demanding change in their schools. Their children were being pushed out of school, disproportionately disciplined, and arrested for reasons that defied explanation except as symptoms of a pervasive system of racial hierarchy.
A movement was born to end the school-to-prison pipeline.
Thanks to that movement, public will began to shift. We started to see decreases in suspensions and expulsions and school-based arrests because of organizers' work and demands. CJSF is determined to make sure that public education takes the road that has been dreamt and engineered by communities, led by organizers. We are committed to doing our part to ensure that conversations about school safety center holistic safety and are grounded in organizer demands and expertise.
By community organizing, we mean the process in which communities come together to learn and to address specific challenges and build momentum for social transformation. Our partners organize around dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, demanding police-free schools, culturally affirming social-emotional learning and mental health supports, culturally responsive/sustaining curricula and pedagogy, ethnic studies, restorative and transformative justice, reproductive justice, gender justice, parent partnerships, meaningful youth engagement, participatory budgeting, and more.
How are we making a difference?
We bring together the resources of philanthropy with the power of grassroots organizing to ensure that schools welcome all students and nurture their full potential.
We fund organizations that change schools and the system of education through community organizing. We fund first. We provide multi-year general operating support grants to 64 grassroots organizing groups in 21 states, Puerto Rico, Ontario, Canada, and Washington, D.C. The majority of grants range in size from $100,000-$400,000. We also mobilize rapid response support.
We are dot-connectors. We foster relationships between our partners and philanthropy, policy, research, advocacy, national movement leaders, and others.
We build the capacity of our partners by supporting their strategic know-how on everything from communications to advocacy. Our commitment to our partners does not end with a check. To build the field, we meet, we listen and we strategize side-by-side with our partners.
We lead efforts, together with our partners, to make community-rooted holistic school safety and positive school climate a priority for philanthropic organizations, policymakers, and national allies. For an example of the ways we lead, see our Do the Harder Work report and Reclaim Social-Emotional Learning radical report (“radport”).