The latest from the Schott Foundation and our allies.
Hair is an integral part of black cultural expression, but it has little to do with educational development, says John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation. His response, highlighted in recent media reports, was a sharp dressing-down of a charter school in Malden, Mass., that disciplined African American girls who wore braided hair extensions to school. The case brought heightened attention to the boundaries of policing identity, and it activated our advocacy partners at the local ACLU, NAACP, and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice to get the school to reconsider its ban on hair extensions, which overwhelmingly affected students of color. It also got the attention of the state attorney general, who is now investigating.
To commemorate our 25th anniversary, we just published a document that chronicles our history and explores our approach to supporting movements for education justice. To date, Schott has given more than $38 million through 931 grants to local, regional and national nonprofit organizations. In addition, we've leveraged another $70 million in funding to accelerate results. But our resourcing strategy takes it a step further. When we partner, we add customized support for individual grantee campaigns, through communication, policy, networking and philanthropic leveraging supports.
Rev. Dr. William Barber was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Schott Foundation 25th Anniversary Awards Gala, and his acceptance speech brought the crowd to their feet and quickly went viral.
From their establishment more than a century ago, local public schools and their educators have produced America’s most brilliant artists, scientists, doctors, musicians, lawyers, presidents, and more. At our 25th Anniversary Awards Gala, the Schott Foundation showcased several talented student artists from New York City public schools to highlight the importance of the arts and music in all our public schools, regardless of neighborhood or ZIP code.
On May 11th, education advocates, organizers, and funders from across the country joined us in New York City to honor the tireless work of the evening's awardees and celebrate our 25th anniversary!
The Schott Foundation's 25th Anniversary Forum was a half-day event that brought together a packed room full of advocates, organizers, and funders from across the field of education justice. The Forum was built around two panels: one with foundation presidents, the other with advocacy, policy and public sector leaders, followed by an interactive dialogue.
On Thursday, May 11, 2017, we marked 25 years of fighting to end educational inequities in America’s public schools by honoring grassroots, community and philanthropy figures who have led the charge for education justice. Among them, civil rights leader Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, who received our Lifetime Achievement Award, and The Atlantic Philanthropies former Chief Strategy Advisor for Equity Initiatives and Human Capital Development Kavitha Mediratta, who received the Philanthropy Changemaker Award.
In April 2017, Schott convened thought leaders to begin a dialogue challenging philanthropies to examine themselves as they encourage communities and organizations to achieve racial equity. Foundation staff and board members are overwhelmingly white, and the origins of philanthropy in the United States involve wealth creation at the expense of and to the detriment of people of color. In addition, internal practices at foundations often perpetuate inequities. This hour-long webinar offer insights and recommendation about how foundations can be more intentional and honest as they seek systemic change with regard to race, ethnicity and class in the communities they fund.
Education is a civil right and it remains the responsibility of federal, state and local administrators and staff to implement ESSA in a manner that reflects this right. The combination of eliminating the ESSA Title I Accountability, State Plan and Data rules; refusing to administer and eliminating the Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities Diversity Grants; withdrawing the transgender guidance; and proposing $3 billion of cuts to public education—just to name a few—is disheartening, disconcerting and downright disturbing to anyone who understands the history of education in America and its power to uplift all communities.
Social justice-minded philanthropies help create systems change by empowering local leadership and supporting grassroots movements to move the needle for poor communities and people of color. However, philanthropy isn’t always bringing the right tools to the task to solve these big problems rooted in social inequity, and sometimes our field perpetuates inequities in the communities we claim to care about.


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