FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 25, 2022
Communities for Just Schools Fund Issues Call-to-Action to Philanthropy:
We Must Dig Deeper in Support of Black and Brown-led Organizing Groups’ Leadership and Vision
Message Comes Amid Two-Year Remembrance of Killing of George Floyd and Countless Others Murdered by Police and White Supremacist Actions
WASHINGTON - Following the horrific police murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and many others, many in the nation held hope that finally, there would be serious and substantial action to address racism, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness embedded in this nation’s systems. They believed that conversations around shifting away from this country’s over-reliance on policing infrastructure and instead shifting to community-led care efforts would finally yield fruit. Yet on the two-year remembrance of Floyd’s murder, many racial justice movement organizations moving critical work in communities around this nation continue to toil without serious investments by philanthropy and without acknowledgement of the importance of their leadership and vision. The Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF), which has been pushing philanthropy to invest more deeply in Black- and Brown-led grassroot organizing efforts for racial justice in education, today released the following statement:
“On the two-year remembrance of the murder of George Floyd, we honor the life and mourn the loss of this father, brother, partner and friend, as well as the countless Black people who have died or suffered at the hands of police, policing infrastructure, and white supremacist violence. We also grieve with the community of Uvalde, Texas after an attack yesterday that took the lives of 21 people, including 19 children. We stand with organizers who continue to lead us towards solutions that center community and belonging rather than hardening and law enforcement. We commit to continuing to uplift the work of CJSF’s partners who are advancing a vision for holistically safe schools and communities,” said Jaime Koppel, Co-director of the Communities for Just Schools Fund.
Rosemary Rivera, Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York said, “On the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, we should be thinking about his legacy and our work to dismantle the system of racist police violence that took him from the world. But we can’t think only of that because we are experiencing the collective shock and trauma of the massacre of 19 children and two adults in a Texas elementary school. And we are coping with the still-fresh grief of the massacre of 10 Black people in a Buffalo grocery store. The truth is we have normalized inhumane violence in this country and it continues to be visited most often and most brutally on Black and Brown people. The only just way forward is to provide real, meaningful support to Black- and Brown-led grassroots organizations who can understand the layers of these traumas in ways white-led organizations can’t, know the needs of their communities, and are doing the work to make necessary change. We call on the philanthropic community to make good on the unfulfilled promises of significant financial support of this work and these organizations. In this moment in history, that is the most important and effective way for philanthropy to help achieve racial justice in this country.”
According to Statistica.com, “as of May 6, 2022, police in the U.S. shot 358 people to death in 2022. In 2021, 1,055 people were shot to death by police in the United States.” Most of these individuals were Black. Further, the National Campaign for Police-Free Schools has documented more than 200 incidents of school police violence against students since 2007.
Marika Pfefferkorn, Co-Founder and Solutions and Sustainability Officer, Twin Cities Innovation Alliance shared “The Twin Cities Innovation Alliance’s (TCIA) Youth Initiative for Justice (YI4J) was launched as a youth-led response to the murder of George Floyd. Over the last two years YI4J co-created safe spaces for Black and African youth across the Twin Cities to process, reflect and push back against police brutality and the presence of police in schools. But, even as the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, youth calls for action and justice have fallen by the wayside. Even though we have removed the physical presence of school resource officers, criminalizing approaches to students still prevail, the push to reinstate School Resource Officers is real, and the money to support this work is fleeting. It is easy to create sound bites - it is the actions and the right investments that will reverberate change through our neighborhoods. Our youth are still waiting. It is incumbent on both sides to support and develop ecosystems that can anchor and sustain the change we desperately need.”
“Black people and communities continue to experience anti-Black violence ,” said Cierra Kaler-Jones, Director of Storytelling for the Communities for Just Schools Fund. “We know that this violence is etched into this nation’s history. Periods of advancement to social and racial justice have always been met by white supremacist backlash. Just as it is a part of history, the violence of white supremacy is embedded in education. Violence is erasure – erasure from our society, our schools, and curriculum, while practices and policies seek to make young people erase parts of themselves or face violent backlash. We see this in policing infrastructure, in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, book bans, anti-truth legislation, anti-social-emotional learning (anti-SEL) legislation, and so much more.”
As we mark two years since George Floyd’s murder and sit with the horrific violence of the last ten days, it is clear that action is the only way forward. Desiree Mims and Ni’Keah Manning, The Black Organizing Project offer a glimpse of what is possible when we stand with organizers over the long-term: “The commitments of support during our campaign have helped us build capacity and make REAL change here in Oakland since the passing of our George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland School Police. For example, calls to police in Oakland schools dropped 90% during just a nine-month period of police-free schools. This is possible because of the groundwork led by the community and the continued investments. But as we reach the two-year mark since the police killing of George Floyd, the need for organizing still exists. Long-term change requires long-term investment and support— investments into this work cannot be limited, “one-time,” or restricted. This work does not require that kind of commitment. Grassroots organizing is some of the most challenging work and while it is the heart and power of the people that fuels organizing, continued funding helps drive it through. The work needs continued, long-term investment to ensure all the foundational organizing isn’t done in vain.”
"Community organizing for systemic change requires deep love, deep care and deep resilience,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education (AQE). “Our communities are dealing with the impact of racism and white supremacy every day and also have to deal with the impact of severely violent, horrific incidents like the murder of George Floyd and the massacre in the Tops supermarket in Buffalo. We continue to persist and insist on equity and racial justice. But, securing the resources to fund the organizing, to provide non-profit staff with quality wages and benefits is fraught with unnecessary obstacles that often leave organizations led by Black women without the resources needed to meet the demands of the moment. The commitment to racial equity and justice must go beyond social media hashtags; it's time to take action. It's time to invest in Black organizing, Black-led organizations and Black liberation."
“To honor the legacy of those whose lives have been stolen by state-sanctioned violence and by white supremacist violence, we have an opportunity to accept the invitation to radical dreaming that organizers offer us,” Koppel said. “We invite our colleagues in philanthropy to join us by dramatically increasing support for Black and Brown-led grassroots groups who are on the frontlines challenging racism and hate and leading us towards liberation.”
Founded in 2010, CJSF is a national collaborative. Our priorities are to fund the field of education justice organizing, build the capacity of grassroots organizations to intensify their impact, connect and foster relationships between our partners and those in other roles, and lead efforts, with our partners, to make community-rooted holistic school safety & positive school climate a priority for philanthropy, policymakers, and national allies. 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 general operating grants.
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.