The Center for Racial Justice in Education’s mission is to train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in our schools and communities. At the Center for Racial Justice in Education, we envision a world where all young people learn and thrive in racially equitable, liberating, and empowering educational spaces. Funded in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Center for Racial Justice in Education is excited to highlight the launch of its first-ever year-long racial justice initiative with NYC schools.
Please note, this program is no longer offered and has grown into our new Racial Justice in Organizations Program (RJIO). Click here to read more and apply today.
(Pictured: Staff of PS 244Q, one of our RJIS Partners, along with CRJE Team Lead, Steve Quester)
The Racial Justice in schools (RJIS) program will give schools the opportunity to enhance their understanding of how race and racism manifests in classrooms, educational institutions, and the lived experiences of students through professional development training and ongoing follow-up support provided by the Center for Racial Justice in Education over the course of one school year.
Schools will gain ongoing support in the form of personalized coaching/consultation to gain strategies for advancing racial justice through the implementation of a ‘racial equity assessment’ and a racial equity action initiative. Through this work, schools become part of a collaborative community of educators who are building an anti-racism practice in their classrooms and schools.
The RJIS initiative is open to six public elementary schools in New York City. Select schools will partner with the Center for Racial Justice in Education throughout one academic school-year to receive one full-day professional development training and ongoing follow-up support. Key program components include:
RJIS schools will participate in our flagship “Talking About Race in the Classroom” (TAR) training for all staff. This 6-hour workshop provides a space for educators to deepen their knowledge of the history and definitions of race and racism, as well as an opportunity to gain strategies for creating racial equity in classrooms and schools. Educators will enhance their understanding of how racism manifests in schools and in the lived experiences of students.
Through a community-driven and data-informed ‘racial equity assessment’ process, that could include surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups, the Center for Racial Justice in Education will assess the most pressing racial justice needs within the school community. Schools will gain a set of recommendations for building a stronger institutional foundation for racial equity work.
The racial equity assessment will culminate in a set of recommendations and strategies to support a school-wide culture of respect, equity, and inclusivity. With the direct support of the Center for Racial Justice in Education staff, schools will gain ongoing coaching and consultation support throughout the school year to support the implementation of at least one racial equity initiative based on the set of recommendations provided.
- New York City Public Elementary School
The program will recruit public district elementary schools within the five boroughs serving grades K-5 students.
- Demonstrated Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and/or Racial Justice Work
Selected schools will be able to share what steps they have already taken to further diversity, equity, and/or racial justice work in their school community, as well as a clear purpose for their work moving forward.
- Willingness and Capacity to Create an In-School Racial Equity Committee
Each school commits to establishing an internal racial equity team composed of 4-6 community members. The committee includes at least one classroom teacher, one administrator, and one non-teaching staff member. This committee will serve as the main contacts for communication and coordination with the Center for Racial Justice in Education.
- Time Commitment
Selected schools will agree to commit the following time to participate the project:
- one full-day of professional development with their racial equity team in August;
- one full-day of professional development with the entire school team in September or November;
- 2-4 hours per month of project work for the racial equity team.
Deepening of knowledge and understanding of race and racism.
- Common language that allows for difficult conversations about race and racism in each
specific school context.
- Educators identify harmful actions and discuss it with colleagues in a way that others can
Changes to classroom practices and interactions with students.
- “I’m trying to think more consciously [about] like, who am I favoring right now, and who am I
not?” – Teacher
Increased confidence with respect to naming and interrupting incidents of racism.
- “[RJIS] definitely empowered me and [has] given me the language.” – Teacher
Changes in School-Wide Policies and Practices. Some past successes include:
Revision of mission and vision statements to include racial equity language
- Creation of an equitable classroom observation checklist for principals and teachers to use
during classroom visits, which allowed them to assess progress toward becoming a racially
- Curriculum revisions in accordance with the Culturally Responsive Curriculum Scorecard
- Increased engagement with families
- Critical examination of behavior management systems and policies
- One school created a new “Dean of School Culture” position to align school culture with racial
- One school revised their special education referral policies using a race equity lens after
seeing that Black students were most impacted by referrals.
“RJIS has supported us to use curriculum that allows students to connect to their racial identities
through literature and math word problems.” –3rd Grade Teacher, RJIS School
“RJIS has been transformational for our community. We feel encouraged and supported to create a plan to address systemic racism in our community.” -Principal, RJIS School
“RJIS has supported us to get more comfortable having conversations about race with each
other because it impacts our students and families” –Teacher, RJIS School