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How to Get Started Funding Education Justice

The data is clear: education philanthropy must step up to make the bold investments that the movements and this moment demand of us. This will take visionary thinking, difficult conversations, and new commitments to transparency and participatory grantmaking — but you are not alone.

  • Utilize the dual lenses of racial equity and racial justice as defined in our #JusticeIsTheFoundation report to understand and change how your grantmaking portfolio is allocated. Use the report to present the case and urgency to do so.
  • Educate yourself on justice movements in your focus area. Learn who the grassroots leaders are and what they are focused on changing. This requires having intentional conversations with those that are leading these movements. Attending convenings lead by grassroots orgs or entities that serve those organizations. National networks like Journey For Justice, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and Dignity in Schools can lead you to these local justice groups.
  • Engage education justice intermediaries like Schott, Communities for Just Schools Fund, and Blue Meridian.
  • Commit to trust-based philanthropy and sustainable funding practices — good resources to review include Building A Trust-Based Philanthropy and The Future of Philanthropy, Foundations Build Flexible Funding.
  • Build a strong plan of action with your colleagues to shift your organization’s grantmaking toward racial equity and justice. Connect with and learn about intermediaries that work with grassroots organizations on the front lines of education justice.
  • Watch Schott’s 2021 Grantmakers for Education conference session, “Shaping a Racial Justice Portfolio.”
  • Learn about the Southern Education Fund, working to end the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Read Communities for Just Schools Fund’s Annual Report.
  • Provide support to the families and community leaders closest to the problems to direct, instigate and advocate for the support they need and the solutions they deem most effective.
  • Evaluate your organization’s grantmaking strategies on a regular basis to ensure your actions are lining up with your new commitments. Share those evaluations with your grantees and encourage honest and frank feedback from them.
  • Use and adapt existing tools like the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity’s “Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens” guide.
  • Evaluate the expertise both your organization and grantees have internally to be successful at understanding and developing strategies for thoughtful and intentional engagement.
  • Hire staff that have experience working with and in grassroots communities. Empower those staff members to advise your organization and internal stakeholders on grassroots funding strategies.
  • Bring together an advisory committee that intentionally includes impacted community groups, grassroots leaders and other philanthropic thought leaders to help evaluate and provide strategic advice.