Coalition for Community Schools - Because Every Child Deserves Every Chance

Community Schools and Community Organizing


February 12, 2015 at 3 PM EST

Join us to learn about organizing campaigns in NYC and across the country that are shaping the expansion of community schools. Hear especially from organizers and parent leaders in NYC who were at the forefront of organizing efforts that led to the City’s recent commitment to create 128 new community schools. Presenters will talk about the coalitions that were formed, the impact they had on the current mayor's education agenda, and the follow-up efforts to ensure successful implementation, including a new community schools policy to help ensure quality and sustainability of the city's community schools.


  • Claudette Agard, Parent Leader, Coalition for Educational Justice
  • Jitu Brown, National Director, Journey for Justice Alliance, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
  • Natasha Capers, Coordinator, Coalition for Educational Justice
  • Barbara Gross, Principal Associate, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Miss it? Watch it, here! 
Prensenter Bios:
  Claudette Agard, Parent Leader, Coalition for Educational Justice

Jitu Brown

Jitu Brown is the national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance, a network of 30 grassroots community based organizations in 23 cities organizing for community driven school improvement; and he was formerly the education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO).  Jitu studied at Eastern Arizona College and Northeastern Illinois University, majoring in communications with a minor in Spanish. 

Jitu started volunteering with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) in 1991, became a board member in 1993 and served as the organization’s board president.  He joined the staff as education organizer in 2006.  He helped develop the Mid-South Education Association, a grassroots advocacy group that has successfully organized to stop several school closings in the area and secured resources for neglected neighborhood schools. 

Jitu also teaches African-American history at St. Leonard’s Adult High School. Jitu has taken youth leaders from KOCO to the United Nations, to the Passamaquoddy Native American reservation in Maine and to the UN Conference on Racism in South Africa.

Natasha Capers is the Coordinator and Parent Leader for the Coalition for Educational Justice. She began her work with CEJ when her children's school was placed on NYC Department of Education's list for closure.  Natasha resides in Brownsville, Brooklyn and is the 2nd Vice-president of the District 23 Community Educational Council.  Natasha fights for educational equality and justice on the City, State and National levels.  Currently, she is an active member of the Alliance for Quality Education and Journey for Justice, an alliance of grassroots community, youth, parent and intergenerational groups from 18 cities across the nation.

Barbara Gross provides facilitation, coalition building, strategic campaign and organizing support to community and parent groups across the country. She has worked as a community organizer, trainer, and educator. She began as an organizer for ACORN in 1980 and moved to Bronx Educational Services (BES) in 1987, where she taught adult literacy and trained literacy providers around the country in learner-centered approaches to adult education. In 1992, in response to concerns of BES learners, and together with them, she conceived of The Parent Organizing and Education Project, the predecessor for Mothers on the Move, which Barbara co-founded and where she worked as co-director until 1998. Before working at the Annenberg Institute, she was a senior project director at New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy.  Barbara holds a B.S. in political science and education from Cornell University.

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