The crises affecting our nation and the world are requiring foundations to become more organized, focused and responsive in their efforts. The work of social justice is complex — and a traditional, siloed approach from philanthropy will not bring about transformational change around issues that are so inherently intersectional. Advocacy groups deeply ingrained in communities understand this all too well, and they often work to address multiple issues simultaneously; they face real challenges when they feel pressured to make their work “fit” into the context of a grantmaker's preferred issue. This narrow approach from funders can negatively impact the ability of these organizations to do the work necessary to truly affect change – and ultimately, it limits the effectiveness of philanthropy, as well. One approach to moving beyond a single-issue focus is to join efforts with other foundations to leverage the reach of our support.
Cross-sectional work benefits the community. Supporting grassroots organizations in this way can allow funders to achieve impact beyond their respective missions, exponentially contributing to the broader movement toward equity.
Funders can foster collaboration within philanthropy—including partnerships with funders whose values may intersect with our own but would typically support work in different issue areas. For example, school climate and issues of student discipline have been framed primarily as education issues, but they have strong intersections with juvenile justice, health, policing in schools, and gender equity, as well. By aligning our efforts as funders across areas, we can have a wider impact on social justice issues
The Schott Foundation acts as an intermediary between philanthropy, grassroots organizations, labor partners, policymakers, and communities—directing grantmaking dollars from large, national foundations to support education justice campaigns across the country. Schott is able to package those grantmaking dollars along with additional supports in communications, policy advocacy, and network building, so that grantees can work to ensure that all children have an opportunity to learn, regardless of zip code, race/ethnicity, or income.
Recently, through a collaborative partnership with the Schott Foundation for Public Education and the Arcus Foundation, funding was provided to BAGLY, the Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Youth, in Boston, Massachusetts to advocate for the rights of Trans students in Boston Public Schools. Through focus groups with Trans youth, we heard a number of ways schools and districts can work to ensure that our schools are safe, supportive, inclusive places for truly everyone. In order to make this research accessible, Schott designed an infographic to highlight the “superpowers” of Trans youth.
Through partnerships with other regional and national funders like the Arcus Foundation, Schott has been able to leverage over $7 million over the last three years for the social justice movement to advocate for systemic, holistic solutions to improving public education for all students.
Systems and policies are most effective when they are shaped and driven by stakeholders. Schott’s grantees are mobilizing communities, crafting policy and making real, systemic change. From local to statewide and national coalitions of parents, students, teachers and labor unions, the Schott Foundation for Public Education is proud to support and advance grassroots campaigns for public education.
| Andrea Garvey is the Operations Manager for the Schott Foundation for Public Education and an EPIP Boston Chapter Leader