How We Began

The Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality formed around a crisis in both schools and prisons. The School District served 35,000 students in 1999, in a fast-changing demographic area. There was little support for the 4,000 non-English speaking students, and few student role models for any of the 29 cultures and languages served.

Oregon’s Measure 11, combined with dismal dropout, discipline, suspension, and expulsion rates for low-income, non-English speaking and racial minority students equaled disaster for our youth.

These statistics led directly to the wide achievement gap of over 40 points between students of color and white students.

We had to take action

24 strong-minded, passionate volunteers of all colors and languages, with a single purpose of finding social justice and equality for our children, organized hundreds of community members through meetings, testifying in committees, volunteer civic involvement, media coverage, and rallies.

We raised awareness of the suffering of children and families, and the economic impact that their lack of upward mobility would create in our community.

We advocated for changes in:


  • disciplinary practices

  • cultural competency

  • professional development for staff

  • police involvement in schools

  • researched academic programs

  • special emphasis on non-English speaking students


Our earliest mission was

Equity, Accountability, Unity

  • To Promote Equity for Our Children in Salem/Keizer Public School District and in the Community

  • To Advocate for the Respect of Civil and Human Rights of All People in Our Community

  • To Seek Accountability from All Salem/Keizer Community Administrators, Policy Makers, Staff and Employees.

  • To Unite the Salem/Keizer Community and Speak with ONE Voice to END Discrimination and Inequality.

  • We Support and Network with all Statewide Organizations and Educational Advocates who Support OUR Mission