Closing the academic achievement gap is a big challenge, but people of faith have a real opportunity to make a difference. Moving the needle will only be possible if we work together. This issue is too big and too important for any one organization to tackle on its own.
In 2015-16 The Expectations Project partnered some of the nation’s leading faith-based organizations, across a variety of traditions, to address education equity. Collectively these organizations reach, equip and mobilize millions of clergy and people of faith across America.
TEP helped guide these organizations through a strategic planning process to help them think through how to empower their networks to address extreme disparities in public education.
Here an example of some of the things we were able to achieve together in 2015-16:
- National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) drafted an Education Equity Resolution which was unanimously approved by their board in September. In part, the resolution read, “Violating both biblical justice and the American dream, educational opportunities are provided in abundance to some and substantially denied to others. The benefits skew along racial and income lines. Due to our continuing patterns of residential segregation and neighborhood schools, a child’s zip code has become a more powerful predictor of academic success and lifetime income than either intelligence or hard work.” As a part of the rollout NAE included recommended actions for their members take to advance education equity. Click here to see NAE’s full resolution.
- National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) supported a wonderful event in Orlando through one of its member churches, Iglesia El Calvario. Over the summer, we ran a campaign called Zip Code ≠ Destiny. The zip code that produced the most pledges to take action on education equity won a concert featuring recording artists Kirk Franklin, Derek Minor, Propaganda and Sho Baraka. Orlando produced the most pledges and won the concert. Iglesia El Calvario hosted the concert and it was a great success. Learn more about the concert here.
- BeUndived works with congregation across America to get them invested in church-school partnerships. This year they have expanded their understanding of how churches can care for schools to include addressing systemic injustice and advocating for education equity. BeUndivided was so impacted by its partnership with The Expectations Project that it created new materials about how churches can move along a continuum of care for schools. See their plan and work here.
- African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) is one of the nation’s largest African American denominations with a global reach of 7,000 churches, 40 countries, 5 continents, 2.5 million members. In 2017 they will leverage their constituent’s presence in education to create resources and tools to help their educators use best practices that move local school districts and HBCUs towards closing the achievement gap.
- Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) spotlighted education equity as one of their main topics at their 2015 annual conference, attended by over 3,000 grassroots leaders seeking the shalom — a Hebrew word meaning peace, justice and wholeness — of their communities. CCDA created a plan to work alongside in education towards a more robust advocacy and systemic justice pathway.
- Sojourners reaches more than 3.5 million people annually through Sojourners magazine, sojo.net website, social media followers, and tens of millions of people through television, radio, and other news outlets. Sojourners would like to do an education equity campaign focusing in part on ending the school-to-prison pipeline and increasing restorative justice practices and trauma informed practices in schools.
- Reform Action Committee of Reformed Judaism (RAC) represents more than 900 congregations across America, including 1.8 million reformed Jews and over 2,000 reformed rabbis, and advocates on 70 issues. For decades RAC has been deeply engaged around civil rights and advancing racial justice. They believe academic success requires an education system that is fair and equitable for all students. They will pursue identifying, training, organizing and supporting social action advocates.
- Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) is the home denomination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and has 1,500 churches with a membership of 1.5 million. PNBC has committed to launching a campaign to raise awareness and train pastors and lay leaders to be advocates for educational equity issues, including the establishment of a Nannie Helen Burroughs (NHB) Educational Equity Toolkit.
- The Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) discovered that 50% of the 1,100 people in their alumni network are either already working, or interested in getting involved on education equity. IFYC seeks to provide greater educational resources to support their K-12 alumni, such as written materials, webinars, and digital networking.
- Cardus studied congregation-school partnerships in order to support the development of relationships between churches and schools. Cardus aims to continue research with a more comprehensive network in order to provide robust recommendations.
We are so grateful for our partners and the wonderful work they have done over the past year to advance the work of equity in education. We are excited to see the fruits of their labor, and the collective action in makes possible, as we move in 2017 together and beyond.