As the Memorial Fund settles into a deeper sense of purpose regarding its mission to achieve equity in education by working with those affected and inspiring all to end racism and poverty, our grantmaking will continue to pay attention to how the organizations and projects we support are leading to transformation and to disrupting patterns of inequity in education. In partnership with our grantees, we will deepen our understanding of what transformation and disruption efforts look like, and work to identify meaningful measures of success.
Please see our past grants to get a sense of where we are beginning to direct our priorities for funding.
The Equity Ecosystem Grant was given for one year to organizations that are applying an equity lens to their work and helping others to do the same. This means that their focus is on introducing equity-promoting practices, as well as changing institutional cultures, policies and practices that perpetuate inequities in our schools and communities.
Aspects that support the creation of an equity ecosystem where equity in education can become a possibility are:
- Working directly with or on behalf of people at the grassroots level who are of color and live in poverty,
- Paying attention to the role of systems in perpetuating inequity,
- Working with social justice networks like organizers, unions, grassroots organizations, and groups of interest like teachers, parents, and students,
- Developing authentic relationships between leaders in organizing, advocacy and activist space that can lead to higher impact efforts,
- Offering training, engagement and advocacy for a particular sector of the population involved with, or directly impacted by, racism and poverty.
- Developing tools, curricula, and processes with schools, educators and early childhood providers that help to build their capacity to use an equity lens and to create remedies at every level of the system.
The Community Organizing for Equity in Education Grant was extended to organizers in seven communities: Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Meriden, and Waterbury. This opportunity addresses the lack of foundation support for organizing in Connecticut, and in part, our emergent theory that an improved education system is more likely when people most affected by race and poverty use their civic rights to make it happen.
“We don’t move without our members. As organizers, it’s not our job to decide what issues to take on. It’s our job to ask tough questions and provide our members with the tools they need to win.”
Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Executive Director of FaithActs, a Community Organizing Grantee Organization
The Community Organizing grants provided operations funding for two years to advance community organizing efforts focused on:
- Eliminating structural barriers to positive educational experiences and opportunities
- Changing neighborhood conditions that adversely affect the social, economic and health outcomes of residents, and
- Transforming education systems such that students can attain lasting prosperity.
The Organizing Environment Grants were offered for one year to groups that are newer to organizing, as well as groups with a more constituency based membership than a grassroots base.
“Our goal is to create liberated spaces where youth and adults can learn from one another in a manner that encourages participation and challenges the systems and the status quo.”
Addys Castillo, Executive Director of the Citywide Youth Coalition, Organizing Environment Grantee
These groups are clearly contributing to the environment in which community organizers are operating, by:
- Training and coaching organizers, faith-based, and community leaders,
- Developing and cultivating youth, parent and teacher leaders, by providing political education and civic engagement skills, and,
- Creating space for the purpose of building community.
In 2018 and beyond, the Memorial Fund will continue to be in relationship with current and potential grantees, and others in the communities most impacted by inequity in education, to refine our understanding of how to best use our resources to create relevant grant opportunities. The Memorial Fund’s intention is to offer opportunities for support that value and honor the experiences of people most affected by racism and poverty and that center their expertise in making the decisions that are best for themselves, their families and their communities.