© 2023 People of Color in Independent Schools
The overlapping crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the history of racial violence, including the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others, demands that POCIS reiterate its commitment to advocating for and elevating the voices of people of color in independent schools. We recognize that independent schools began as predominantly white institutions with missions that did not include the culture or success of people of color. POCIS was created in 1995 as a direct call to action to advance the learning, leadership, and success of people of color in independent schools. In alignment with our mission, we believe that the work of achieving racial equity is a mandate that educators of all racial backgrounds, especially our white colleagues, must engage in. That mandate is uncompromising and will always be necessary and urgent.
As schools work to dismantle systems of oppression and reaffirm commitments to antiracist ideas and practices, POCIS is committed to developing programming to help schools achieve their goals:
Through these and other practices, we commit to supporting our member schools and charge schools to be equitable places where all children and adults can achieve success in reaching their academic and social potential. As the Honorable John Lewis reminds us, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
People of Color in Independent Schools of Northern California (POCIS) was founded by local independent school educators who were inspired and moved by the call to action made at the 1995 NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC) in Baltimore.
These driven and dedicated educators joined together to provide support for San Francisco Bay Area Independent Schools’ affiliates who were interested in issues of diversity and equity. As a self-sustaining board, founders planned, organized, and funded events to support students and educators of color in independent schools.
After building a solid reputation and approaching over 50 local independent school heads with a membership opportunity to good to refuse, POCIS began its growth from a grass roots group of educators to the well established non-profit we know it to be today. In 2002, POCIS officially received its non-profit – 501c3 status and established itself as an official non-profit corporation. At its inception, POCIS sponsored a number of events at local schools to support families, students, and school faculty and administrators.
Its purpose: “To promote a positive effort by teachers, administrators, parents, and students who believe that diversity, equity, and social justice are endemic to quality education for all. The cultures, diverse heritages, languages, knowledge, and insights of people of color contribute to creating inclusive, and affirming institutions. The corporation supports the increased diversity in student enrollment, in faculty, and administration and at the board level, as well as in contracts for goods and services with women and people of color. This corporation also supports school climates where the academic and social wellbeing of all students and adults of color is assured.”
For the past 15 years, POCIS has been an active and constant presence in Northern California Schools. POCIS continues to support and serve educators, families, and students in the pursuit of equity and justice.