MFEE To Award $150,000 In Grants to Promote Equity in Montclair Public Schools

The Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) has announced a one-time grant application process for each of the 11 Montclair Public Schools which will provide significant funding to promote racial and socio-economic equity within each school.

The MFEE Excellence in Equity Grant is designed to fund a project or initiative that is collaboratively-shaped by a diverse group of school stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, parents, and students (where applicable) to address inequities experienced by students of color and their families. Proposals will be evaluated on the quality of the project, demonstrated need for the project, and demonstrated buy-in across a wide swath of the individual school community.

“We at the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) believe strongly that without racial and socio-economic equity, there cannot be educational excellence. We also believe that Montclair is well-positioned to address the inequities that lead to a persistent opportunity gap amongst our students. Montclairians have the creativity, thoughtfulness, and will to make big changes, and MFEE is honored to provide the resources to support these changes in all 11 schools,” said Kamillah Knight, board member at MFEE.

It is anticipated that each elementary and middle school will receive up to $10,000 and that the high school, since it serves all of our public school students, will receive up to $50,000 in grant money. Examples of ideas that are being proposed include ongoing workshops for caregivers on how to speak to their children about race; asset-based programs that nurture BIPOC students; and professional development on tackling institutional racism in the classroom.

The first step in the Excellence in Equity grant application process is to submit a short online Letter of Intent (LOI) before November 30, 2020. The LOI is a way to highlight the issue at the school and an idea for addressing it. LOIs submitted after the November deadline will be considered as grant funding permits. Successful LOI applicants will be asked to complete a full proposal with a decision being made within about three weeks of submission.

The Excellence in Equity grant is being launched to build off the momentum of MFEE’s America to Me Real Talk Montclair initiative. The process uses the America to Me docuseries as a springboard for deepening racial literacy and to spark individual and collective action to disrupt racism. The films examine racial inequities in a Chicago suburban high school that looks and feels a lot like Montclair High. Over 800 people have participated in America to Me: Real Talk Montclair events since the program launched on March 1st, 2020, and Watch Group participants report positive reactions especially in the wake of racial justice activism.

“As our America to Me Watch Groups continue to grow, we see people inspired and looking for ways to seed meaningful change in their schools and communities,” says MFEE Executive Director Masiel Rodriquez-Vars. “MFEE is eager to launch the Equity Grant application process in our community. This work is more urgent than ever.”

Full Application materials, FAQ’s, and selection criteria for the Equity Grants are available on MFEE’s website: https://mfee.org/who-we-are/what-we-do/grants/mfee-excellence-in-equity-grants.html. We welcome applications from teachers, parents, administrators, students, and other stakeholders.

“Most of us [on the Board] chose to live in Montclair specifically for the strength of our public schools – and particularly for the opportunity for our children to be educated among peers of all backgrounds,” says Sarah Hudson-Plush, MFEE Board Member and chair of MFEE’s Grants Committee. “But we know that we have hard work ahead of us to create schools that are truly equitable across racial and socio-economic lines, and in which the opportunity gap between BIPOC and White children – and between families with means and those without – is eliminated. Our experience participating in the America to Me discussions – as well as our own experiences as parents and students in the MPS – led us to develop the Equity Grants. We can’t wait to see what they generate.”

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