The mission of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund is to achieve equity in education by working with those affected and inspiring all to end racism and poverty.
We understand that our mission is to be part of the larger work of bringing about justice and equity to the United States. We focus on education as both a process and tool for personal and social transformation, in addition to being a central institution in U.S. society. We work with those most affected to center the experiences and wisdom of communities of color and those living in or near poverty as indispensable to designing the solutions needed. We seek to inspire all to end racism and poverty, two of the most significant root causes of inequity in the United States. We focus our work in Connecticut as our home state and a state of stark inequity.
As a funder, we challenge ourselves to consider this fundamental question:
“What actions will be disruptive to deeply entrenched, institutionalized systems of racism and poverty so that true transformation toward antiracism and full inclusion will occur in our schools, communities, and society to allow equity in education to become a reality?”
What Equity In Education Means
Equity in education means that we are using an equity lens to understand and transform the institutions and process of education in order to restore full agency and self-determination to communities affected by racism and/or poverty and to heal and repair the damage done by structural racial and economic oppression.
Equity in education means that all students from birth – inclusive of their racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, linguistic, and other identities – are prepared to achieve academic and social-emotional success in school and matriculate fully prepared to live financially secure lives of their choosing.
Equity in education means there are no gaps in opportunity or achievement and that students are treated as whole multi-dimensional people.
Equity in education means that parents and communities of color or low income communities are equipped and supported in engaging in the decisions and processes required for the success of their children.
Equity in education means that public education ceases to work as an institution perpetuating white supremacy and maintaining our current race and class inequities and divisions.
We believe that the work of dismantling systems and institutions that perpetuate racism requires that we strive to hold ourselves accountable to the following principles:
- We prioritize working together as respectful, compassionate partners with people most impacted by racism and poverty, in a way that encourages the growth of a justice-oriented way of life for the communities we serve and spreads power, voice and opportunities equitably among all the people in the community.
- We center the wisdom and lived experiences of people most impacted in how we work and with whom we choose to partner.
- As a philanthropic organization was created through the generosity of a white family and that traditionally has been a white dominant institution, we intentionally and deliberately examine our privilege and power so that we can be open with others about our own assumptions, actions, limitations, and power.
- Whenever possible, we are open, clear, and direct about our progress for engaging with community about what we believe and why- including what ways we can and cannot participate in creating social or political change.
- We value honesty in ourselves and from community with regard to challenges and mistakes, especially how we plan to address challenges and correct mistakes.
- We seek courage to take action that may elicit public criticism.
- We are intentional about putting our privilege to the highest use possible by making bold moves and taking strong stances to help achieve justice in our communities. In doing so, we are willing to bear the burden of the possibility of failure on behalf of less privileged people and communities.
- Through our partnerships with community, we actively endeavor to redirect power, privilege, assets, opportunities and resources toward the people and communities most impacted by systems of oppression rooted in white supremacy and capitalism.
- As we consider the many paths and obstacles before us on this long road toward achieving equity in education, we invite others to join us in considering: