A strong and expanding field of nonprofits are organizing grassroots communities around education issues in Denver and Aurora public schools, with support from a coordinated set of grants made recently by a locally based and operated coalition of education funders.
The Colorado Education Organizing (CEO) Funder’s Collaborative gave grants totaling $310,000 to seven local nonprofits. The collaborative includes the Denver Foundation, Gates Family Foundation and Rose Community Foundation, which pool funding to provide support for organizations in the field.
“Building capacity for grassroots organizing ensures that community voices inform education policy decisions and that the community feels a sense of belonging and ownership of their local school district and its outcomes,” said Janet Lopez, Senior Program Officer for Education at Rose Community Foundation. “Additionally, schools recognize the link between community engagement and academic achievement of their students, which is our ultimate goal in this grantmaking.”
The 2018 grants include several newly formed organizations in the field, which demonstrates momentum for community-led organizing around education issues.
Collinus Newsome, Director of Education at the Denver Foundation said “This year’s grant cohort includes both established and emerging grassroots organizing efforts. With all of these grantees, we hope to see an education organizing field that is proactive, as exhibited by strong bases that can be activated quickly and easily.”
Collaboration among funders can breed and incent collaboration among grantees, thus building their collective power and increasing the sustainability of their work. And general operating support for grassroots organizations helps ensure that they are fiscally sound, politically savvy, strategic, nimble, and have a strong network of support.
The 2018 grantees are:
- African Leadership Group, for ongoing advocacy training and civic engagement opportunities for the African immigrant community, with an emphasis on improving the public education systems in Aurora and Denver
- Colorado Youth Congress, for the infrastructure and training needs for youth-led systems change campaigns
- FaithBridge, a faith-based organization founded and led by a diverse, multi-generation group of leaders who live in the communities served, to empower families to demand a holistic and equitable educational experience for their children
- RISE Colorado, to engage families in organizing coalitions, supporting them as they surface issues most impacting their children’s education, and work towards solutions, as well as support families as they move into leadership positions in their schools, district and Aurora community
- Together Colorado, to continue activating parents to push hard for district quality, transparency and accountability, more and equitable per-student funding, equitable transportation access, quality teacher recruitment and retention, better academic standards and student performance
- Transform Education Now (TEN), to uplift community voice and position parent leaders to initiate community change to transform Adams 14 school district
- Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA), for work within schools and youth activism grounded in equity for the issues of concurrent enrollment, transit, and the multilingual peer ambassador program
“One of the most exciting aspects of this project is the opportunity to build the field of community organizers in education,” said Ana Soler, Senior Program Director for Education at the Gates Family Foundation. “We hope that this will lead to helping these organizations have a stronger impact, both in the community and on the system.”
About The Denver Foundation
The Denver Foundation is a community foundation that inspires people and mobilizes resources to improve life in Metro Denver. In 2017, the Foundation and its donors awarded more than $66 million in grants. The Denver Foundation has three roles: stewarding an endowment to meet current and future needs for Metro Denver, working with community leaders to address the core challenges that face the community, and managing more than 1,000 charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit www.denverfoundation.org.
About the Gates Family Foundation
The Gates Family Foundation is committed to advancing long-term quality of life for all Coloradans, through support for educational equity, vibrant and sustainable communities, and stewardship of our state’s extraordinary natural resources. Gates is one of Colorado’s oldest private foundations, having committed nearly $400 million to philanthropic activities since 1946. For more information, visit www.gatesfamilyfoundation.org.
About Rose Community Foundation
Rose Community Foundation strives to enhance the quality of life of the Greater Denver community through leadership, grantmaking and donor engagement – stewarding philanthropic resources and investing in strategic and innovative solutions to enduring challenges and emerging issues. Since its founding in 1995, the Foundation has granted more than $270 million to organizations and initiatives focused on Aging, Child and Family Development, Education, Health and Jewish Life in the seven-county Greater Denver area – recently adding a cross-programmatic community action overlay of support for nonprofit organizations serving immigrants, refugees and communities vulnerable to discrimination and hate crimes. For more information, visit www.rcfdenver.org.