Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition & Sistas and Brothas United: Improving Schools Through Youth Leadership and Community Action
This report shares findings from a six-year research study on the impact of the two organizations’ education organizing on increased educational opportunities for students in the Northwest Bronx. In 1996, a small group of public school parents in the Bronx, New York, launched what became a ten-year struggle to improve overcrowded schools and aging school facilities in their community. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition took politicians, parents, and the media on tours of overcrowded and poorly constructed facilities; they staged rallies with elected officials and held press conferences; they catalogued sites for new school construction, developed innovative strategies for new school development, and met with federal officials to discuss the importance of school-facilities funds.
High school students joined in the effort. Through Sistas and Brothas United, they campaigned against widespread overcrowding in local high schools and mobilized to address the issues common to severely congested schools (increased violence, tense relationships, curtailed access to academic supports, disengagement and apathy). They worked with educators and the NYC Department of Education to open a new school, the Leadership Institute, that would teach young people the skills of leadership and community action as part of the school’s curriculum.
This report shares findings from a six-year research study on the impact of the two organizations’ education organizing on increased educational opportunities for students in the Northwest Bronx. This research found that the groups’ organizing work resulted in:
- greater equity in the development of district priorities to reduce overcrowding and reallocate resources, which included helping District 10 secure 14,000 new seats through new school construction and leasing and significantly reduce overcrowding in the district’s elementary, middle, and high schools
- greater community engagement, student engagement, and school accountability to the community around the issues of families’ concerns about school facilities and awareness of the relationship between school overcrowding and problems of school safety
- greater educational opportunity for students through improvements in school climate, traffic safety, and cafeteria and bathroom facilities, as well as new policies on school communication with parents, use of metal detectors, and training for school safety agents.
NOTE: The Annenberg Institute, with funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, conducted a six-year research study and developed a series of seven case studies based on our research. Each case documents the organizing efforts of a community group in a site and its effect on resource equity and district accountability for improved educational outcomes. Sites include Austin Interfaith, Chicago ACORN, Community Coalition (Los Angeles), Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project and Youth United for Change, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition & Sistas and Brothas United, Oakland Community Organizations, and People Acting for Community Together (Miami).