What will the Hazen Foundation Support?
Hazen's funding of the past 10 years has helped to develop the field of Education Organizing from a few dozen disparate groups organizing low-income parents to demand improvements in low performing schools to well over a hundred community organizations working with parents, students, community members, teachers, teacher unions, school administrators, public officials and other key players to get at the heart of education reform: quality teaching and learning that results in equitable student outcomes. While we recognize that there is no single solution to the problems confronting the public schools and that education organizing alone cannot increase student achievement, we know that the engagement of organized parents, students and community organizations in the work of education reform is helping to change the conditions under which students of color from low income backgrounds are expected to learn. Their efforts are proving effective in addressing some of the critical issues that typically plague schools serving students of color from low income communities: overcrowded classrooms, few qualified teachers, low expectations and watered down curricula, inadequate learning materials, and deteriorated facilities. Equally important is the role that organized parents, students and community residents play in holding schools and school systems accountable for quality education and equitable learning outcomes, as well as maintaining community ownership of these public institutions.
During 2005-2009, the Foundation will allocate approximately $5 million in public education grants using an integrated strategy that includes:
1. Targeted, Sustained, Funding in Four Sites - Over the next five years, Hazen will use its financial resources primarily to support existing education organizing groups in four sites: Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County, the Delta Region of Mississippi, and New York City. The Foundation will work with education organizing groups that have the capacity or potential to undertake longer-term organizing campaigns focused on quality of education issues at the district and system's levels from a perspective of racial and social justice. The aim is to leverage our knowledge, experience and resources to bring about concrete improvement in the quality of education and student outcomes in low performing schools and school districts in these four sites. In each of these sites we envision making grants for one to five year periods in support of:
- Existing education organizing groups that have substantial work underway that is focused on teaching and learning, or are poised to move their work in this direction;
- Coalitions or partnerships led by Hazen grantees that seek higher-level systemic impact;
- On a limited basis, promising new or emerging education organizing initiatives, particularly efforts that engage new constituencies;
- A limited number of technical assistance and capacity building initiatives focused on strengthening the work of education organizing groups.
2. Alliances & Movement Building - We will continue to create opportunities for education organizing practitioners to come together to delve into the content of education practice and reform, to build their power and legitimacy as actors in education policy development, and to work more closely with each other locally and nationally to define a shared vision of quality education and a collective agenda for constituency-driven school reform. To this end, during 2005-2009, the Foundation will:
- Support national training opportunities for education organizers and leaders such as the "Organizing for Educational Excellence" Training Institute, and work with other funders to adapt or develop similar local and regional efforts;
- Help create strong networks of education organizers and leaders locally and nationally to facilitate relationship building and ongoing communications, as well as to identify common goals, strategize and work together to achieve those goals;
- Help link, build and strengthen relationships between practitioners and leading school reform thinkers for mutual learning and support as well as to increase the effectiveness of education organizing groups to impact policy issues that enhance equity and student achievement at the local and system's levels;
- Encourage education organizing groups to develop relationships with potential allies by supporting meetings, convenings or other venues for building trust, articulating shared values and developing a common understanding of the issues that require change.
3. Leveraging Support for the Field - Hazen will work to develop a strong base of funding for education organizing locally and nationally, as a way to enable the organizations engaged in this work to achieve and sustain long-term educational change. Over the next five years, the Foundation will:
- Help to create collaborative funding opportunities and/or vehicles for strategic, joint, funding of education organizing at the national level in collaboration with interested funders;
- Conduct outreach to local and regional funders active around education reform to increase their understanding of and support for education organizing;
- Continue to assist funders that support education organizing to identify ways to make longer-term, substantial funding commitments to education organizing initiatives and groups that are showing results, and assist with efforts to generate resources to sustain the work over time.
Over the next five years, the Foundation envisions providing sustained funding and working collaboratively with a core group of grantees in Los Angeles Unified School District, Miami/Dade County, New York City and the Delta Region of Mississippi to bring about concrete improvement in the quality of education and student outcomes in low performing schools and school districts in these four sites. To achieve this, during 2005 Hazen staff will conduct meetings with existing education organizing groups, funders and allies in each site to identify an initial cohort of potential grantees to be recommended for funding to the Foundation Board of Trustees; additional groups will be added to the cohort in subsequent years. Organizations to be considered for funding will be groups that:
- Demonstrate a high level of effectiveness in their education organizing;
- Have a clearly articulated vision, strategy and action plan for their work;
- Are committed to the values of public schools as the most viable venues for equitable education, and as a democratizing force in our society;
- Seek to build public and political will for sustained investment in the education and development of young people, particularly youth of color and low-income youth; and,
- Express a willingness to work with other local community organizations and the Foundation in achieving common goals.
It is expected that the Foundation will also support a limited number of new and emerging education organizing initiatives in each targeted site - particularly sites where there may be fewer established education organizing efforts.