Grantmaking 1999-2005

  • 1999
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • In 2005, SEF paid for four young women of color activists from Philadelphia to attend the INCITE! Color of Violence conference in New Orleans, LA.


Homeschoolers and Dropouts
For parents who take their children out of schools or young people who choose to leave schools (with or without parental support), self-education is the key to creating an empowered and inspirational future. People drop out of schools and take their children out of schools for so many different reasons! For some it might be bad school conditions, visions of a better way of learning, lack of support for different learning styles, factors in our personal lives causing us to have too many absences, or being uncomfortable or unsafe as an openly gay or lesbian youth. Some young people consider themselves “Rise Outs”, choosing a better path than traditional schooling. Some consider themselves to be Pushed Out, by the factors that make schools unsafe for so many youth. Whatever the reasons, we at SEF are dedicated to the idea that there is life beyond schooling, that education is a life-long process which is most useful when people learn at their own paces, in relevant settings, and driven by their own curiousity and love of knowledge. Several organizations recognize the limitations of schools and support dropouts and homeschoolers in their self-education rather than insisting that they return to school. These organizations directly challenge the notion that one needs a formal education to be successful.

Student-Led School Reform
Whoever said that self-education only takes place outside of schools? Across the country high school and college students are organizing on their campuses to demand changes in their educational institutions. Student-led campaigns for school reform directly counter the disempowerment that schools perpetuate by introducing the idea that students can actually have a say in their own education! Here’s a quote from a student-member of the Philadelphia Student Union: “We believe that all young people, regardless of race or where they live, deserve a high quality education. If schools are to truly change, we the students must be behind the changes. Schools cannot work until students want to be there and feel a sense of ownership. This will not happen until we are valued, respected and listened to.” We couldn’t have said it better!

Incarcerated Self-Educators and their Supporters
Prisoners’ access to state-provided educational programs has drastically diminished in recent years. The few programs that are available often do not meet the educational and political objectives of incarcerated populations. Many prisoners have had to look for support from other sources to further their own education. In response to this need books-to-prisoners programs have been started throughout the country. There are also a growing number of state and national-level campaigns to urge the government to prioritize the funding of preventative and proactive programs and education rather than the growth of the prison industry. Besides funding progressive prisoner education programs so that they can better provide prisoners with good political reading material, SEF’s prison-related programs also include:

  • Compiling a comprehensive directory of progressive, prisoner-driven prison education programs.
  • Facilitating prisoners’ political education study groups by typesetting, copying and distributing materials for them.
  • Producing literature that will be useful to prisoners, prison activists and the general public.
  • Developing a program through which youth from a drop-out community center will work with prison activist groups. We have a number of ambitious

Independent Media-Makers and Distributors
As the ownership of mass media becomes increasingly consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer corporations, the access to media production and distribution becomes increasingly limited. Mass media is arguably one of the most influential “educators” for young people. The films, TV shows and music videos we watch shape our sense of self and worldview. Most people feel somewhat alienated by these carefully constructed images, unable to find realistic reflections of ourselves. A growing number of independent media makers and distributors have emerged nationally with a mission of democratizing the media by teaching media production skills to people who otherwise would have little access to such resources as well as creating venues to display and distribute this work

Popular Education and Grassroots Community Organizing
Grassroots level organizing and education campaigns can be centered around a variety of issues such as a welfare rights union or a neighborhood group fighting environmental racism. What is intrinsic to the process of organizing is the sharing and learning of skills that occurs between the people involved. It is a realm in which degrees do not necessarily equal expertise and experience becomes the most valuable method of learning. It also provides people a chance to be directly involved in decision-making processes and learn that we can have a direct effect on things that impact our daily lives.


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