As Interim President of the Stuart Foundation, I am pleased to support our Board of Directors during this time. It has been an honor to serve them over the past 11 years and I look forward to ensuring a smooth leadership transition.
I would also like to thank our staff, grantees and partners for their continuous efforts to improve outcomes for young people through education. In October, our Board approved 40 grants totaling $7.5 million to address issues facing the California public education system and seize new opportunities to improve policies and practice.
We feel incredibly fortunate that we can support this important work and I look forward to sharing progress updates with you.
Message from our Chief of Programs, Sophie Fanelli
As David noted above, we are very pleased to share that the Foundation’s Board recently approved $7.5 million in grants that continue to illustrate the deep values and goals we share with our partners: a clear commitment to strengthening and supporting our public education system to focus on the whole child, to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps, and to serving young people furthest from opportunity. We remain committed to ensuring that each and every child receives what they need to learn, achieve, and thrive, regardless of race, zip code, ancestry, gender, or cultural background.
These grants will support work organized in the Foundation’s four mutually reinforcing portfolios, that focus on systems change at all levels, from classrooms and communities to the state capitol: School Finance & Accountability, Educator Leadership, Adolescent Learning, and Creativity & Arts Education.
To support and learn from our partners we rely on an incredible team of passionate program officers and staff, and I am excited to announce that Shane Safir has joined us as a Senior Program Officer and will be leading our Educator Leadership Portfolio. Shane brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to education equity, having worked in public education for over 20 years at every level of the school system. The founder and co-principal of June Jordan School for Equity in San Francisco, Shane recently wrote The Listening Leader, which is inspiring school, district and teacher leaders to make substantive change and increase equitable student outcomes. Shane is joining us part-time and will continue to maintain her consulting and coaching practice focused on equity-centered leadership and school transformation.
As a team we are committed to learning with and from you, and to deepening our relationships with partners and communities across the state. We are clear that meaningful and sustainable progress on our shared goals is inextricably intertwined with the strength and depth of our relationships, and that solving complex problems requires a collaborative stance. To that end, the Foundation will expand two funds to offer additional support to current grantees and partners, a Capacity Building Fund and a Communications Fund, to allow nonprofits to focus on organizational health, long-term sustainability, and to amplify their work and stories.
As we near the end of 2018, it is hard not to feel like these are trying times. We mourn with the Pittsburgh community over the hateful attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27. We grieve with the families of those lost at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, and for the black senior citizens who were killed in Louisville, Kentucky. And we mourn as wildfires are now raging throughout our state. Yet young people are giving us hope and are making clear that transformative change will come from them. The last midterm elections saw a higher youth voter turnout than in the last thirty years, and students across communities are speaking out and mobilizing to improve their schools and reach their dreams.
Our Adolescent Learning portfolio is focused on the moral imperative of transforming the educational experience of teenagers without reinforcing artificial silos of academic learning, social and emotional learning, and student voice and engagement. We are supporting approaches that address two critical issues: 1) the conditions that schools and school districts set for students to feel safe, engaged, seen and heard (culture and climate), and 2) how teachers teach, what students learn, and how students show what they know and can do in the real world. In October, our Board approved a new and explicit focus on Learning for Democracy in this portfolio which re-prioritizes civics education and youth voice as part of our strategy. After having heard young people lift up their voices across the country, we also believe that, more than ever, schools need to be the place where they have a voice and where they learn how to use it powerfully. As Grace Lee Boggs stated boldly, “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.”