Non-profit

Communities for Just Schools Fund

Project of:

New Venture Fund

Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) is a left-of-center entity that advocates for issues relating to public schools. The organization is a fiscally-sponsored project of New Venture Fund, a funding and fiscal sponsorship organization managed by the left-of-center consulting firm Arabella Advisors. [1] The project has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from Open Society Foundations, a left-of-center private grantmaking foundation founded by liberal megadonor George Soros. [2]

History

Communities for Just Schools was founded in 2010 as a fiscally sponsored project of NEO Philanthropy, a funder of numerous left-of-center and liberal project organizations. Originally named the Just and Fair Schools Fund, the project served as a grantmaking entity with funds going to organizations primarily focused on identity politics-based issues. The project claimed to aid “youth of color, LGBTQ youth, and immigrant youth,” whom the organization claimed to be “systematically denied” chances to succeed in public schools. [3]

The New Venture Fund took over as fiscal sponsor of the organization in 2015, shifting its mission by increasing grantmaking to smaller organizations and partnering with a broad array of left-of-center and liberal organizations to push race, gender, and other identity-based issues broadly related to education. [4]

Grantmaking

Communities for Just Schools makes grants to various organizations. Though most of the recipients of grants are given to small organizations based in education issues, it also gives a significant amount to long-established and monetarily prominent left-of-center organizations.

CJSF partners with a number of national, state, and local level advocacy organizations to support its own advocacy for education issues. A number of prominent left-of-center and liberal organizations are listed as partners. Most notable of the organizations listed as “community partners” of CJSF are the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the legal policy advocate of the NAACP which uses litigation and legal advocacy to push a left-of-center agenda focused on minority interests; Californians for Justice, a left-of-center organization focused on identity-based issues as related to lower education; and Black Organizing Project, a left-of-center organization that pushes policy ostensibly to benefit African Americans in Oakland, California. [5]

People

Allison R. Brown is the executive director for Communities for Just Schools. She previously worked as a civil rights attorney with the Educational Opportunities division of the United States Department of Justice. She also served as a program officer for Open Society Foundations. [6]

Thena Robinson Mock is a program director for CJSF, coordinating strategic partnerships and managing grantee portfolios. Mock previously worked as a civil rights attorney focused on what she claimed to be a problem of “criminalization of students of color, black girls, and queer & trans youth of color.” She also served as a staff attorney for the New Orleans branch of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a controversial left-of-center watchdog of extremist groups. [7]

Funding

Communities for Just Schools receives funding from left-and-center and liberal grantmaking foundations. Most notable among these organizations are Open Society Foundations, that made grants totaling $700,000 since 2017;[8] the Ford Foundation, that made grants totaling $5.65-million since 2015;[9] the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, that made tens of millions of dollars in grants to CJSF’s parent New Venture Fund; and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that made grants totaling $1.6 million since 2016. [10]

The organization also receives significant funding from numerous other left-of-center and liberal organizations such as the Arcus Foundation, an identity-politics organization advocating for LGBT interests; the NEA Foundation, the 501(c)(3) organization associated with the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the United States; and the NoVo Foundation, a left-of-center organization funded by Warren Buffett’s son Peter advocating for more lenient abortion legislation, LGBT issues, and liberal economic policy. [11]

References

  1. “About Us.” CJFS. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.cjsfund.org/about-us. ^
  2. “Grants Awarded: CJSF.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/past?filter_keyword=communities+for+just+schools+fund. ^
  3. “ARCHIVED: Just and Fair Schools Fund.” NEO Philanthropy. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://neophilanthropy.org/collaborative-funds/archived-just-fair-schools-fund/. ^
  4. “About Us.” CJFS. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.cjsfund.org/about-us. ^
  5. “Community Partners.” CJSF. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.cjsfund.org/community-partners. ^
  6. “Staff Profiles: Allison R. Brown.” CJFS. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.cjsfund.org/our-team. ^
  7. “Staff Profiles: Thena Robinson Mock.” CJFS. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.cjsfund.org/our-team. ^
  8. “Grants Database: CJFS.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/past?filter_keyword=communities+for+just+schools+fund. ^
  9. “Grants Database: Ford Foundation.” Ford Foundation. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.fordfoundation.org/work/our-grants/grants-database/grants-all?search=%26SearchText%3Dcommunities%20for%20just%20schools&page=0&minyear=2015&maxyear=2020. ^
  10. “Grants Database: New Venture Fund, CJSF.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.” Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.rwjf.org/content/rwjf/en/how-we-work/grants-explorer.html#k=communities%20for%20just%20schools. ^
  11. “Donor Members.” CJFS. Accessed May 25, 2020. https://www.cjsfund.org/donor-members. ^
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