Report: Nonprofit paying $1,400 per student to become social justice warriors had long ties to Valley school district

Californians for Justice is under the microscope after a report of paying students and parents in Long Beach $1,400 and upwards of $20,000, respectively, to serve as social justice warriors.

A California social justice activist group contracted with Fresno Unified for leadership programs is underfire for its contract with another California public school district to develop “political activists” using taxpayer resources.

The contracts between Fresno Unified and Long Beach Unified School Districts and Californians for Justice was first reported in The Free Press last month. 


The backstory: Californians for Justice is a statewide youth-powered organization fighting to improve the lives of communities of color, immigrant, low-income, LGBTQ and other marginalized communities, according to its website

  • CFJ was founded in 1996 and has long been involved at FUSD. 
  • According to its website, CFJ convinced FUSD to improve the student-to-counselor ratio from 800 students per counselor to 450 students per counselor in 2007. 
  • In 2011, CFJ got Fresno Unified to hold Know Your Rights Assemblies and to expand an A-G certified Race and Social Justice course to all district comprehensive and continuation high schools. 
  • Two years later CFJ teamed up with youth advocacy group Students United to Create a Climate of Engagement, Support and Safety to get Fresno Unified to adopt and implement a restorative justice framework in the district’s high schools. 

The big picture: Fresno Unified paid CFJ $150,000 from June 2020 to June 2023 for leadership programs. 

  • CFJ was paid $50,000 per year, according to district documents
  • The scope of work document for the October 2022 to June 2023 agreement said Fresno Unified has committed to equity by creating an opening for deep and genuine partnership to achieve authentic student voice in curriculum content and instruction practices. 
  • CFJ was contracted to “provide thought partnership, design, evaluation, and facilitation of four Student Task Force meetings with representation from all FUSD High schools,” per the document. 
  • The key objectives for CFJ were to develop findings and recommendations for advancing culturally responsive teaching to one high school subject – which was to be determined – and to develop student leadership and set the groundwork for implementing findings and recommendations through school pilots. 

Elsewhere in California: Along with Fresno Unified, CFJ has been active in other parts of the Golden State and has paid high school students. 

  • The Free Press reported that Long Beach Unified School District paid CFJ nearly $2 million from 2019 to 2023 to facilitate equity and leadership development training for students and teachers. 
  • Nearly 100 high school students were paid $1,400 each to learn activist advocacy for racial and social justice, and the contracts also allocated $20,200 for 13 parents who participated in the program. 
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