The latest from the Schott Foundation and our allies.
Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf Coast over the course of a day, but its repercussions will be felt for years to come. In its wake, the category 4 hurricane left countless residents without power or running water. With federal, state, and utility responders overwhelmed and often unresponsive, grassroots organizations around New Orleans — and around the country — stepped in.
As students return to in-person schooling across the country, the first question for many of us is: what’s in the air? But also at the heart of education discussions we find another question: what’s on the chalkboard? Parent-led movements to improve public school curriculum — to increase the diversity of voices and provide an accurate and truthful look at our society’s present and past — have been underway for decades, but have gained new prominence and momentum over the past several years. The most promising victory for what advocates term “Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education” can be found in New York City. Thanks to the tireless efforts of groups like our grantee partner the Coalition for Educational Justice, hundreds of millions of dollars have now been allocated to completely overhaul the city’s public school curriculum.
What we do in school impacts us for the rest of our lives. But it’s not just about what we learn: it’s also the air we breathe. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, families and educators were raising the alarm about dangerous air pollutants in U.S. schools. A 2018 report using EPA data found that of 90,000 schools tested for air quality less than one percent, only 728 schools, achieved the safest score.
How can we truly foster diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy? Schott's Senior Vice President of Strategy Diana Tate Vermeire makes the case for organizations to critically examine the entirety of their internal culture, practices, priorities and make bold changes.
Earlier this year, Schott launched #JusticeIsTheFoundation in partnership with Candid. This project looks at how funders in the K-12 education philanthropy sector invest their resources. Among our findings, we discovered that within this sector, less than one penny of every dollar spent was directed to racial justice work. This number is unacceptably low. As we dug further into the data, we discovered something: the organizations that spent the most on racial justice funding had leadership much more racially diverse than philanthropy at large.
Earlier this month, Schott Foundation President & CEO Dr. John H. Jackson spoke at the opening event for Black Philanthropy Month. Held each August, Black Philanthropy Month is a time not only to celebrate Black giving but also critically examine how much further the philanthropic sector needs to move toward racial equity and racial justice.
Of the myriad issues brought to prominence by the pandemic, schooling and housing have been two of the most prominent. While news outlets, pundits and politicians will often treat them as separate concerns, where we live and where we learn are profoundly linked. To create a more racially just and equitable future for one, we must do so for both.
When we last discussed the proposed American Jobs Plan in April, we described it as “one of the most transformative education bills in a generation.” However, the bipartisan infrastructure proposal now under consideration — and likely to become enacted legislation — is less than a third its size and removes much of the truly transformative measures of the original.
A rising tide of Black, Brown and Indigenous community organizing has delivered liberatory and anti-racist education to students across the country over the past decade. Their impressive advances for public school children are now under attack by reactionary forces seeking to foment division and advance their political agendas. The threats are escalating, including legislation in multiple states making it illegal to teach an accurate portrayal of the racial injustice in our nation’s history. At the same time, federal relief dollars are pouring into local school systems and communities are organizing to direct that funding to racial equity and culturally responsive curricula. Education transformation is increasingly possible in this moment, but philanthropy must act quickly and boldly to help realize that potential.
This year is the tenth anniversary of Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), founded by Dr. Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland for Reunity, formerly the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network in August 2011. The BPM Summit will engage participants in a convening across five regions with a slate of world-renowned leaders in philanthropy, social investment, venture capital and more. All communities across the world are invited to join in making equity real. Schott President Dr. John H. Jackson will speak at the event along with Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, Puerto Rico Community Foundation President Dr. Nelson Colón, and other philanthropic leaders.