New York Appleseed’s Mission Statement Annotated
New York Appleseed advocates for integrated schools and communities in New York City and New York State. With evidence-based advocacy and close work with stakeholders, we achieve direct impact in the community and beyond. We extend and magnify this impact across North America through participation in the Appleseed network.
Integrated schools and communities are those that:
+ Achieve Racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in composition;
+ Appoint leadership Representative of this diversity;
+ Facilitate Relationships across people of different backgrounds;
+ Practice Restorative justice; and
+ Share equitable access to Resources and opportunities.
Our work has primarily focused on traditional public schools with occasional advocacy around charter schools. We have not advocated around independent schools in New York.
“integrated … communities”
We chose “communities” to encompass the broad range of geographies in which we work, including everything from individual neighborhoods; community planning districts, community school districts, city council districts, and even boroughs in New York City; suburban jurisdictions; entire cities; and entire metropolitan regions.
“New York Appleseed … New York City and New York State”
While New York Appleseed’s office and staff are located in New York City and we have largely focused our efforts on New York City, we have always advocated statewide as well. In the years to come, we hope to expand our programs to benefit more New Yorkers across the state. Our name New York Appleseed is deliberately ambiguous!
New York Appleseed advocates for policy solutions firmly grounded in the available evidence as to what actually works. Such evidence includes scholarly work, journalism, reports generated by other nonprofits organizations and research institutions, consultations with experts, and research that we undertake ourselves in collaboration with our pro bono partners like the law firm Orrick.
“close work with stakeholders”
One of the most important forms of evidence we use is the unique expertise of the people who are directly affected by the problems we address. By working closely with students, parents, teachers, principals, community members, and other stakeholders, we hold ourselves accountable to the intended beneficiaries of our advocacy.
“direct impact in the community”
Although we believe in the value of making clear statements of values, New York Appleseed ultimately is an organization that measures its success by actual policy changes affecting real lives. Reports, publications, press conferences, and other public appearances are valuable only insofar as they allow us to achieve direct impact.
A foundational Appleseed concept is the importance of structural change. Working with community stakeholders in 2012 to overcome DOE opposition to a pro-diversity admissions plan for PS 133 had direct impact in the community, but its real value was its significance as a breakthrough – contributing to a slew of developments across New York City, New York State, and, arguably, the nation.
“extend and magnify this impact … through our participation in the Appleseed network”
New York Appleseed shares its victories, failures, strategies, tips, documents, templates, and advice with 16 other Appleseed centers. Our goal is that other centers will use our experience and resources to enhance their own work. Texas Appleseed, in particular, has developed a school-integration initiative based on New York Appleseed’s work with IntegrateNYC, even as New York Appleseed has benefited from Texas Appleseed’s pioneering work to affirmatively further fair housing (i.e. to promote housing integration). Additionally, New York Appleseed’s positioning in the largest city in the United States -home to major media outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and important charitable foundations – offers unusual opportunities for our work to be visible and influential.
The Appleseed network includes 16 centers across the United States and one in México.
“Integrated schools and communities”
This idea of what it means to be “integrated” derives from the Real Integration (or “five R”) framework developed by students in our partner initiative IntegrateNYC. In the years to come, New York Appleseed will advocate for individual components of this definition in schools and communities while always keeping in mind the importance of addressing as many as possible together.
“Racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in composition”
This phrase refers to what most people think of as integration – that is, balanced or representative diversity. In a school, this concept would refer to the demographics of the students in the classroom and the school as compared to the relevant geography from which students are drawn. In a neighborhood, this concept would refer to the demographics of the residents of the neighborhood as compared to the entire city or metro area. And so on.
New York Appleseed also believes that our concepts of diversity must also include other populations – even though not specifically listed in our mission statement, including English Language Learners, Students with Disabilities, LBGTQ students, children in temporary housing, children in foster care, children identified as Gifted & Talented, and others.
“leadership Representative of this diversity”
Separate from the diversity of students and residents of schools and communities, it is important for leadership to be representative of this diversity. In schools, this refers primarily to the teaching faculty and the administration. In communities, this concept could refer to community boards, community education councils, and city councilmembers and their staff.
“Relationships across people of different backgrounds”
Real Integration requires that schools and communities not only strive for diversity, but attend to the quality of the relationships among people of different backgrounds. Schools and communities will necessarily pursue this goal in different ways tailored to their particular circumstances.
“equitable access to Resources and opportunities”
Real Integration is an important strategy for providing equitable access to resources and opportunities insofar as it prevents politically powerful individuals from concentrating the effects of that power on a small handful of schools and neighborhoods (what is sometimes referred to as “opportunity-hoarding”). Racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in composition (the first “R” above) by no means guarantees such equitable access and we advocate to be sure that diverse schools and communities are allocating resources and opportunities equitably within schools and communities.
Moreover, the Real Integration framework allows us to work for equitable distribution of resources and opportunity across schools and neighborhoods even before full Racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in composition is realized.