Public schools are the heart of our communities. That’s the core belief that led us through the good, the bad and the everyday moments of 2019. From lessons learned to shared victories, we couldn’t have done it without our students, staff and community leading together to build a brighter future for California. To celebrate that energy and dedication, please join us in taking a look back at some of the highlights in our work over the last year.
#1: Breaking New Ground on Relationship Centered Schools:
- CFJ Long Beach trained 100 teachers on implicit bias in a first of its kind, district-wide professional development and helped launch the first Equity & Inclusion Design Team meeting for the district.
- CFJ Organizers and youth worked to bring more student voice to Fresno Unified. Youth at McLane High helped facilitate campus advisories while our Edison High chapter celebrated its second year as the largest chapter in the state.
- CFJ staff and students in Oakland walked out of classrooms and marched together with teachers in a sign of solidarity and commitment to leading together for a brighter, more relationship-centered future in our schools. Youth leader Belize co-wrote an op-ed for the SF Chronicle giving their perspective on what was at stake for Oakland during the strike, and what it means for public schools across the state.
- Students at our Independence High chapter in San Jose celebrated year two of the Student Equity Committee. The committee elevates youth voice, equity and relationship-building and is supported by site admin like IHS principal Mr. Berg.
- This year we also took our Relationship Centered Schools to the national stage and shared how youth organizing and racial justice are key to the future of Social Emotional Learning.
- Our team presented at several statewide and national conferences including the first-ever CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) Conference in Chicago.
#2: Gearing up for a Historic 2020 Initiative: Schools & Communities First
- Californians for Justice joined the Schools & Communities First Executive committee and is playing a key role in education and youth organizing around the campaign.
- Oakland youth leaders participated in local visioning and planning sessions, helping to dream up what they could do for their community with more resources.
- In Fresno, our team kicked off the SCF campaign in the Central Valley with a rally and signature gathering event.
- Org-wide our staff have collected hundreds of signatures and engaged youth voters of color across the state to ensure they are informed on what this historic initiative means for our communities.
#3: Building Power Across the State
- We held a new version of our annual celebration–State of the Youth–with Assemblymember Ash Kalra in San Jose. We honored grassroots ally organizations SIREN, GSA Network and SOMOS Mayfair for their work to transform our communities and promote youth leadership. We also heard about the future of education in California from State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, and challenged our guests to share their own radical dreams for our schools and communities.
- We joined 17 other organizations from across California to form the Shared Story Table as part of the Partnership for the Future of Learning to build a powerful new narrative of public education in our state. Together with grassroots, policy and research groups, we worked hard to establish a new way of talking about our schools and how we can create an “Education System Built for Us All.”
- This summer more than 50 community leaders, educators and allies gathered in San Jose to learn how our fight for education justice is rooted in the fight for integration and liberation across the movement. From housing rights to climate change and gender justice, our SJ staff and students spoke out on how we all need to Lead Together for real change.
#4: Celebrating Youth Voice in Democracy
- In 2019 we continued our integrated voter engagement program and polled more than 8,500 youth of color to see if they agreed that corporations should pay their fair share of taxes in California.
- We established civic engagement and phone-banking teams in each of our four regions, including hiring and training an all-alumni civic engagement team in Oakland.
- CFJ youth from San Jose to Long Beach attended Univision’s Presidential Forum this fall where they heard directly from candidates on key issues like racial justice, education and housing rights.
- After 15 years, hundreds of youth and millions of memories, we said goodbye to our San Jose office and moved right next door! The shift accommodates our growing staff while staying true to our roots in the Eastside. Plus, we’re still right across the street from one of our main schools in the district — Independence High — where dozens of CFJ youth, alumni and staff have attended over the years.
Folks were also working hard behind the scenes to keep our magic alive in 2019. CFJ hired and oriented 11 new staff members, managed our biggest budget yet — over $3 million — and officially became a fiscal sponsor for a movement building network: Youth Organize! California.
All told, Californians for Justice saw more than 250 student leaders progress through our unique youth organizing model, engaged with thousands of youth voters of color across the state and helped shape the narrative of how California’s public schools are the heart of our communities.
We look forward to the new challenges and opportunities presented in 2020 and can’t wait to Lead Together with you!