Change takes time. Change takes trust.
It takes sticking with a grassroots organization, building their capacity over time, continuing to fund courageous organizers through the inevitable ups and downs.
Schott was founded at the beginning of a 30-year battle that just won a landmark victory for the children of New York.
The 2021-22 New York State budget meets a thirty-year-old demand and thirteen-year promise: equitably fund New York State's public schools so that no matter what zip code a child resides in, there is a baseline of quality their public schools can afford to meet.
The Schott Foundation launched the Proud #PublicSchoolGrad campaign to highlight the positive outcomes from our nation’s public schools and students. As a member of the class of 2021 you are facing extraordinary challenges of a global pandemic, closed schools, remote learning, while likely missing the in-person graduation ceremony you and your family have been looking forward to for years.
Even before the deadly COVID-19 pandemic swept America, the Black-white wealth gap remained stubbornly vast. The crisis is driving the gap to historic levels.
Certainly, the recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment. That such legislation has become law — that our federal government acted decisively with a bill targeted to aid low and middle-income families — evokes equal parts inspiration and relief in its radical departure from previous trickle down approaches that have increased inequality and racial injustice.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Biden, is a watershed moment. That such legislation has become law — that our federal government acted decisively with a bill targeted to aid low- and middle-income families — evokes equal parts inspiration and relief in its radical departure from previous trickle-down approaches that have increased inequality and racial injustice. The Rescue Plan is a desperately needed life preserver for countless Americans, but what does it mean to be pulled from treacherous waters onto a leaking ship?
Just 0.8% of education philanthropy dollars were directed to racial justice from 2017 to 2019, according to research recently released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education and Candid. In an op-ed summarizing the results, the Schott Foundation’s Leah Austin and Edgar Villanueva calculated that “the philanthropic investment in racial justice works out to less than $2 per student.”
A defining theme of 2020 was the nationwide increase in grassroots activism. Across the country, people young and old took to the streets to challenge racial injustice. Whether it was in action on the climate crisis, or in demonstrations in response to fatal police shootings, communities have proven time and again that they care, they are connected, and they are a driving force for change. In the movement to ensure a future and nation that works for all, community organizers have emerged as the real MVPs.
While Black and Brown organizers have modeled extreme heroism and dedication, much of their work has occurred with limited or nonexistent financial support. They are fighting for justice, yet they do so without significant philanthropic investment.
With the stroke of a pen less than a week after his inauguration, President Biden did something no amount of philanthropic dollars could accomplish. He signed four executive orders to combat racial inequity. In quick succession, these measures strengthened anti-discrimination housing policies, ceased new federal contracts with private prisons, increased tribal sovereignty, and initiated government efforts to fight xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These were just first steps toward the administration’s larger efforts to promote racial justice in the United States, but they should send a signal to philanthropy: All the increased giving to address systemic racism, as welcome as it is, can never substitute for the power and purse strings of the federal government. Nor should it.
Community members in Worcester, Massachusetts, including our grantee partner Worcester Interfaith and Schott's Programs & Advocacy Director Marianna Islam, are helping push city officials to take stronger steps against structural racism in the city. At the most recent city council meeting, residents voiced support for a report that recommends removing school resource officers from Worcester public schools, but urged a faster timeline and greater community oversight. This comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by a coalition including Worcester Interfaith claiming the city's school committee elections system discriminates against communities of color.
Today we learned that Karen Lewis — educator, organizer, and pathbreaking labor leader — has passed away. She leaves us with a legacy of unwavering commitment to children, public education, and racial justice.
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