Dear Partners,

We write to you as funder organizers, funder intermediaries, and community organizing groups committed to removing all types of police from all school campus communities. We are alarmed by this week’s police raids of college encampments across the country. The young people engaging in their right to protest, continuing the legacy of youth-led anti–war movements by demanding their colleges and universities divest their dollars from Israel’s genocide of Palestinians, are being brutalized and experiencing human rights violations perpetrated by U.S. militarized police forces. Youth are not just the future of our democracy and of racial and social justice, they are our now.

The police murder of Michael Brown in 2014, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and hundreds more people before, and since, highlighted this country’s policing problem for the world to see. The public’s attention was focused for a few short years on what organizers have highlighted for decades: the need to replace policing tactics with community care. Now we have returned to a status quo, as demonstrated by this week’s atrocities.

Police violence and repression have long been a primary reaction to unrest, and are quickly becoming the only response. In lieu of fulfilling their duty to listen, politicians and university administrators are using police to punish and silence these students. Police are well prepared to quell any form of protest because of ballooned funding to police departments, training in violent riot-busting, unfettered and unvetted access to media, close ties to elected officials, and deep financing of political campaigns by law enforcement lobby groups. 

This increase in investments in policing and surveilling communities, most especially communities of color, is playing out not only in public and private spaces but also in our schools – leaving Black, brown, transgender, queer, and two spirit children to contend with adults and systems refusing to keep them safe at younger and younger ages in schools and communities.  We believe in a world where students feel safe to express themselves and organize, including through civil disobedience, without the threat of violence and unjust punishment. 

We urge philanthropy: defend our young leaders as they put their lives on the line to make history by exercising the very rights that keep us free in the face of violence at the hands of police. 

Philanthropy too often fails to fund movements that are organizing to uphold civil and human rights and defend our freedoms from state-sponsored violence and police repression. Our sector funds when issues are popular – the racial justice uprisings calling for police accountability and the value of Black lives being the most recent major example, and then  pulls back when a specific uprising moment passes, leaving movement organizations at the whim of the larger systems that they are fighting. These larger systems include the criminal legal system and an education system that time and again brings more cops into schools rather than teachers, counselors, books, and a robust education – the same systems that the students in the encampments are now fighting.

Funders for Justice, Communities for Just Schools Fund, Chispa, and the Alliance for Educational Justice invite our partners across philanthropy to support the organizers exercising their democratic freedom of speech and right to assembly by doing the following:

  1. Join the call for an immediate ceasefire and end to genocide by signing onto the Funders for Ceasefire Open Letter.
  2. Double down investments in base building and community organizing infrastructure, especially for young people and students.
  3. Follow the leadership of student and youth-led frontline organizations, especially students leading and launching encampments calling for divestment on school campuses.  
  4. Tap into the networks of decision makers in government and academia to uplift the demands of students to divest from the war economy. 

In Community,

Lorraine Ramirez, Funders for Justice

Manuela Arciniegas, Communities for Just Schools Fund