Program Focus Areas

The mission of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund is to achieve equity in education by working with those affected and inspire all to end racism and poverty.

We understand this mission is part of the larger work of bringing about justice. We focus on education as both a process and tool for personal and social transformation, in addition to being a central institution in our society. We work with those most affected to center their experiences and wisdom and as indispensable partners in designing the solutions needed.  We focus our work in Connecticut as our home state and a state of stark inequity.   

In 2018 we created three separate, but interconnected Program Focus Areas for our work: Building Community Power; Disrupting Institutional Inequity; and Transforming Key Systems. Organizations are invited to apply for one of the three Program Areas.  The intent is that all areas be connected and addressed at some level. We view these Program Areas working together as necessary for transformation. Ultimately, we believe the foundation for transformational change lies in building community power.

Below are descriptions of the three Program Focus Areas along with criteria and descriptions of the types of activities that would likely be supported.  If you believe your work aligns, we encourage you to begin the process to apply for a grant in one of the following areas:    

I. Building Community Power Grants 

Building Community Power grants will support groups that are investing in communities of color living in poverty to build power and lead a broader coalition to confront racism and poverty in our schools and society.  

Criteria for support in this area:

  1. Offer support, skills, and training for grassroots to challenge narratives, practices, and structures;
  2. Are led by grassroots and provide necessary support; 
  3. Have an explicit focus on the intersection of racial and economic equity; 
  4. Focus on building trust; and
  5. Build solidarity among communities most affected by poverty and racism.

Strategies in this area will be focused on the power of grassroot residents, youth, students, parents, and teachers to confront racism and poverty in their neighborhoods, schools, and society.  This work might be described as: 

  1. Organizing 
  2. Mobilizing or Activism 
  3. Capacity and skill building (preparing people to exercise thier power) 
  4. Political education
  5. Community building, spaces and events that bring community together for relationship and trust building
  6. Building trust

II. Disrupting Institutional Inequity 

Disrupting Institutional Inequity grants will support groups that are disrupting narratives, practices, and structures typical of the ways education and other institutions perpetuate racial and economic disparities. 

Criteria for support in this area:

  1. Invite critique of policies and practices;
  2. Identify and change policies and practices;
  3. Provide support and cover for equity work within institutions;
  4. Leadership represents the community served; and
  5. Community residents are equal partners.

Strategies in this area will be focused on schools, districts, and institutions involved in examining and pursuing changes to educational policies, practices, and structures that perpetuate racial and economic disparities.  This work might be described as: 

  1. Examining and pushing for changes in an organization’s/institution’s policies, procedures, and practices that disadvantage people of color and people living in poverty.
  2. Confronting unjust events fueled by the racism, elitism and/or white supremacy. 
  3. Challenging the racial and/or economic status quo.
  4. Holding leaders accountable for their commitments to communities of color and people living in poverty.
  5. Engaging organizations and institutional leaders in equity training and structural racism analysis.
  6. Creating pathways for people of color to enter and flourish in educational institutions

III. Transforming Key Systems

Transforming Key Systems grants will support work that is providing new solutions and methods for changing educational structures needed for the success, and ultimately the liberation of marginalized communities.

Criteria for support in this area:

  1. Communities most affected by racism and poverty implement solutions that create new systems and practices;
  2. Offers cover for groups engaged in changing systems;
  3. Communities most affected by racism and poverty create systems and practices grounded in a new narrative;
  4. Establish mechanisms whereby communities most affected by racism and poverty can hold leaders accountable (local, state, officials);and
  5. Implementing strategies that build systems or institutions that increase the economic sustainability of communities of color.

Strategies in this area will be focused on efforts that elevate community power and include institutional leaders in understanding and reinventing detrimental systems so that they accelerate the advancement of people of color and people living in poverty.  This work might be described as:

  1. Changing laws and policies at municipal and state level institutions that oppress people of color and people living in poverty.
  2. Advance and implement policies and practices that center the well-being of people of color and people living in poverty.
  3. Advance and implement policies that create opportunities and social mobility for people of color.
  4. Generate systems and institutions that will create prosperity for people of color and people in poverty.
  5. Implement strategies that build social and financial assets and the wealth of communities of color.