Jul 29, 2020 · 5 min read

CZI Awards Grants to Support a Back-to-School Focus on Student Well-Being

CZI Gives $850,000 to Community Organizations Working Alongside Schools with Majority Black, Latinx and Indigenous Students

Photograph by MoMo Productions via Getty Images.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) today announced grants to five organizations that will partner with students, teachers, and families on projects that are race equity-centered, and will focus on strong connections and relationships. The grants are the latest in a series of commitments designed to foster student and educator well-being and connection in the wake of the unprecedented disruption of the nation’s schools due to COVID-19, along with heightened awareness of the racial injustices faced by many communities across our country.

“Whether students return to the classroom or continue distance learning in the upcoming school year, we must prioritize helping to repair student connections with their peers and teachers, which were impaired when school buildings closed suddenly earlier this year due to the pandemic,” said Sandra Liu Huang, Head of Education. “Emotional safety and caring relationships are prerequisites for learning, and we are excited to support engagement models, research, and guidance to help educators support the social-emotional needs of vulnerable students and families.”

The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated existing educational inequities and heightened anxiety and trauma for millions of students and their families. A recent survey conducted by the National Parents Union found that a majority of parents worry about their children’s—and their own—mental health and emotional well-being.

Five organizations will receive $170,000 each to partner with schools with more than 75% Black, Latinx, and/or Indigenous students. These supports will help schools with both in-person and remote learning, and will enable meaningful participation from students, teachers and families in the design of school recovery and community restoration plans that support mental well-being.

These organizations were chosen to receive the grants because they apply a clear racial equity lens to their work, are dedicated to supporting student learning and well-being, and invest in students most vulnerable to the social and academic inequities exacerbated by COVID-19.

  • Beloved Community will work with Libertas College Prep in Los Angeles to audit perceptions of family engagement from the spring and facilitate the design of an engagement process to ensure that families and schools remain in continued conversation throughout the fall and develop trusting relationships.
  • PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education) will partner with Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C. to engage families in defining the most pressing issues facing their school and identifying community-centered solutions.
  • Equal Opportunity Schools will partner with schools to design restart plans that meet the needs of Black male students and their families, supporting the facilitation of relationship and community building.
  • Kingmakers of Oakland will launch a listening campaign to identify needs of Black families and students at Piedmont Elementary School in Oakland, CA, supporting connections between the community and school.
  • RISE Colorado will partner with Village East Elementary in the Cherry Creek School District in Arapahoe County, Colorado, to engage students, families, and faculty through community circles, affinity groups, and other outreach strategies that build authentic relationships and connections.

Also, as part of our efforts to support students and educators in the upcoming school year, CZI:

  • Partnered with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to create back-to-school guidance for educators, grounded in the science of well-being. The guidance found in Restart & Recovery: Considerations for Teaching & Learning, provides a framework and supporting resources to assist school leaders in planning for the year ahead.
  • Expanded the scope of our partnership with Donors Choose in support of Bay Area teachers from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties who teach at low-income schools – where 50 percent or more of students qualify for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch. Initially given to support distance learning projects, the grant will now fully fund projects in all categories, up to the cost of $2,000 per project, while funds last.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CZI has committed more than $9 million to support teachers and students impacted by school closures. This includes grants to Healthy Minds Innovations, the National Parents Union, and additional support for teacher professional development and the expansion of broadband solutions.

CZI’s education work is focused on ensuring that every student can get an education that’s tailored to their individual needs and supports every aspect of their development. For more information about how CZI and our grant partners are responding to COVID-19, visit chanzuckerberg.com/covid-19.


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

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