Keeping Students First: Building Community Labor Partnerships for Strong Schools

Grassroots Education Series
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Keeping Students First:
Building Community Labor Partnerships for Strong Schools

Tuesday, April 24th at 2:00pm ET/1:00pm CT

"One of the most inspiring sights of the historic West Virginia teacher strike was seeing educators taking the time to assemble bags of food to deliver to students while schools were closed. In a state in which one in four children is in poverty, the food drive helped struggling families while the strike was ongoing — but it was also an indicator of the kind of labor-community cooperation and solidarity that can achieve important victories, even in the face of daunting political odds."

— Dr. John H. Jackson
Schott Foundation President & CEO

When parents, youth, community members and educators join together, they can move mountains.

From West Virginia to Oklahoma and a growing list of states across the country, educators are making demands that go far beyond fair wages and benefits: they are advocating for newer textbooks, smaller class sizes and pushing back against the austerity measures and harmful policies that undermine student-centered learning environments. Local communities are locking arms with educators and joining those efforts.

Amidst this groundswell of grassroots education organizing and mobilization across the country, Schott Foundation and Building Movement Project are proud to release a groundbreaking new report, Keeping Students First: Building Community Labor Partnerships for Strong Schools.

Keeping Students First is designed to support community and labor groups that are ready and willing to engage in meaningful relationship building and collaboration to address systemic opportunity gaps that have contributed to achievement gaps, especially for youth of color.

The report explores what happened in two cities—St. Paul, Minnesota and Austin, Texas—where both unions succeeded by bringing the community into strategy development and partnership in a meaningful way.

Join Schott Foundation, Building Movement Project and advocates on the forefront of building community labor partnerships locally and nationally as we discuss this moment in grassroots education organizing and lift up important themes and lessons learned from both cities.

Our speakers will include:

Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, Co-Director, Building Movement Project

Keron Blair, National Director, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools

Dr. Cassie Schwerner, Senior Vice President of National Partnerships, Schott Foundation for Public Education (moderator)

Come with questions, insights, and calls to action during our Q&A session at the end!
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #GrassrootsEd.

Register Today:

About the Speakers

Sean Thomas-BreitfeldSean Thomas-Breitfeld

Sean Thomas-Breitfeld joined the Building Movement Project (BMP) in 2013, as Co-Director. Prior to joining the BMP staff, Seanspent a decade working in various roles at the Center for Community Change, where he developed training programs for grassroots leaders, coordinated online and grassroots advocacy efforts, and lobbied on a range of issues, including immigration reform, transportation equity and anti-poverty programs. Before joining the Center, Sean worked as a policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza, where his work focused on employment and income security issues.


Keron BlairKeron Blair

Keron Blair is an organizer with ten years of experience working for social change. Keron is currently the national director of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS). AROS is a national alliance of students, parents, and teachers working together to save public education and to ensure that all children have access to high quality schools that prepare them to participate fully in society. Prior to his tenure with AROS, Keron was the membership director for United Working Families in Chicago. He was also the field director for Raise Illinois, a statewide campaign to raise Illinois’ minimum wage, and Illinois Unites for Marriage, the campaign that secured marriage equality in Illinois. 


Cassie SchwernerCassie Schwerner

Dr. Cassie Schwerner joined The Schott Foundation for Public Education in 1997. In her current role as Senior Vice President of National Partnerships, Dr. Schwerner manages Schott's national campaign partnerships and oversees the Healthy Living and Learning Communities (HLLC) initiative, as well as Schott’s development department.

Cassie serves on the steering committee of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), a national coalition of parent, youth and community organizations and labor groups fighting for educational justice and equity in access to school resources and opportunities in communities across the country. She recently completed a six-year term on the Board of Directors of Grantmakers for Education and stewarded the Schott Foundation’s involvement as a founding member of the steering committee for Communities for Public Education Reform, a national donor collaborative that has generated more than $30 million for the field of education organizing. She recently joined the board of New York Appleseed.

Cassie received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Boston College, where she specialized in social movement theory.