FaithActs for Education was founded in 2015 because a group of Bridgeport pastors demanded a seat at the table.
It started when Pastor William McCullough of Russell Temple CME Church and Education Chair of the Bridgeport Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance asked God to show him the way. Since moving to Bridgeport four years earlier, he had changed his son Benjamin’s school four times, ultimately settling on – and financially sacrificing for – a private option. He understood that many of the families he preached to every Sunday faced the same problem without the means to make the same choice.
After a life-changing meeting with Dr. Howard Fuller, a national civil rights and education leader, Pastor McCullough committed himself to advocating for educational justice for the children of Bridgeport. After engaging with other education advocacy organizations, Pastor McCullough realized that faith leaders were often brought to the table to lend their voices publicly, yet were not involved in decision making or strategy setting.
Our Executive Director, Jamilah Prince-Stewart, walked away from her job and only income source to found FaithActs. She had no road map. But she saw the need. Jamilah saw an education reform movement that was missing key voices from the communities that suffer most from education inequity. And she knew we could create something that could transform the education landscape and give our people the power to control our own destinies.
We built FaithActs to equip our people – thousands of congregants across 100 predominantly Black churches – to make demands that leadership must abide.
Throughout the years we’ve kept central the key principle that we will do things with people, not to people. We say we don’t move without our people, and we mean what we say. The result is an organization that centers community voices and regularly secures high level of engagement from populations others in the space have historically struggled to engage. And we do it because we’re designed to.
We’ve turned out thousands of voters, demanded stronger governance from the Board of Education, prevented busing cuts for thousands of elementary school students, and secured millions of additional dollars for public education in Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven. We advocated successfully for the passage of public acts concerning minority teacher recruitment and retention and the inclusion of Black and Latino studies in the public school curriculum. We also raised more than $300,000 to provide immediate pandemic relief to 875 families and 60 churches.
And we are just getting started.