The Equity Collaborative Grant: CPS Works Toward Inclusivity

Elaine Wen, Metro Editor

The word “equity” is thrown around a lot in Cambridge: a buzzword in history classes, from teachers, and in the district. But many ask what is actually being done to promote this concept. One of Cambridge Public School’s ideas is the Equity Collaborative Grant (ECG). Released in December 2019, students were invited to apply for a grant between $500-$5000 with a project proposal that they thought would advance equity within Cambridge. With projects from creating a kosher option for school lunches to installing a formal land acknowledgment on the Kennedy Longfellow School, the proposals of the 23 grant recipients have all officially begun.

Opening the program orientation event, Manuel J. Fernandez, the Chief Equity Officer for CPS, stated, “Equity is a bumper sticker, a yard sign, a screensaver that doesn’t really mean anything.” However, with the collaboration, “We’re trying to turn equity into a verb.” The ECG opened access to funding for many different student organizations and groups that have historically been difficult to obtain in CPS. Eden Abraham ’25, a sophomore representative who received the grant as a part of the sophomore Student Government, said they made the decision to apply “because events are not accessible for certain students and we wanted more equity in the events happening,” citing the high price tag on Winter Ball as an example. Many students were unable to pay the $50 ticket price, leading to the cancellation of the dance due to insufficient sales. Abraham expressed that, “[Student Government] didn’t want this to happen again.”

Equity cannot be achieved without ideas, and ideas cannot be brought to fruition without equity.

Not only does the grant provide financial support for school clubs, but also allows for students to pursue their own projects. Isabella Leith ’24 and Genesis Gonzalez ’24 received the grant in 2020 and 2023 to create a project that assesses interracial friendships. Leith expressed to the Register Forum, “The good thing about [the ECG] is that it allows students to do something they’re interested in, but on their own timeline.” Students identify many flaws in CPS, and the grant gives them financial support to tackle them head-on. In previous years, students have used the money to incorporate more African American studies into CRLS’ history curriculum or ameliorate the Level-Up TA Program. 

Though only a small step towards a larger concept of inclusivity for Cambridge Public Schools, the Equity Collaborative Grant is nevertheless a step in the right direction. Ms. Sam Musher, the Youth Advocacy Specialist for the Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging told the Register Forum, “The Equity Collaborative exists because Cambridge Public School students, staff, and families are experts in their own lives—they know best what we need to make our schools and community more inclusive.” However, it is critical to note that equity cannot be achieved without ideas, and ideas cannot be brought to fruition without equity. And while many amazing ideas are being brought to light with this grant, Leith still advises, “There is still a long way to go until we are actually making a change.”

This article also appears in our February 2023 print edition.