In 2022, the “It Gets Better Project” allowed schools to “apply for up to $10,000 in grant funding to support school-based projects empowering LGBTQ+ students.” The project was called “50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices.” The organization specifically pointed out that “grant funding” even went to schools in “traditionally conservative areas.” IDEA North Mission College Preparatory is a school that applied for a grant and received a full $10,000. The “It Gets Better Project” stated:
We are so excited to finally be able to announce all of the grant recipients, with each school receiving the full $10,000 in funding. Fifty grants are being awarded in 40 states plus Washington D.C., including many traditionally conservative areas. Submissions were received from a wide range of small rural towns, average-sized suburbs, and large urban cities.
The organization claimed that these grants were made available to schools thanks to the “generous support of American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) through American Eagle and Aerie customer donations from all 50 states via their Real Rewards loyalty program, as well as in-store pin-pad promotion during Pride Month 2021.” In reference to IDEA North Mission College Preparatory, the “It Gets Better Project” stated about the grant:
This project is looking to create a region-wide Queer Youth Conference where Queer youth across south Texas can come together. The primary objective is to make schools safer and more inclusive. This will be tailored to the Queer Youth that are spread out through their high schools.
The “It Gets Better Project” also linked to an article from USA Today discussing IDEA North Mission College Preparatory receiving the $10,000. The news outlet reported: “A ninth grader in Mission, Texas is bringing a queer youth conference to his rural hometown after winning a $10,000 grant from the nonprofit group the It Gets Better Project.” The student is reportedly the president of the “Warrior Prism Alliance” club. USA Today described the club as “the school’s equivalent of a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) group.”
The student learned about the $10,000 grant from his club’s advisor Alexander Hernandez, who serves as “the school’s advanced placement computer science teacher.” When speaking about the purpose of the “Queer Youth Conference,” the student appeared to target parents:
(In our town) you know most people, coming into this whole entire school. It’s really difficult to just present ourselves to our parents, because they have this cultural division … The (conference) will provide a safe space and support for everybody.
The “It Gets Better Project” is an organization that promotes LGBTQ issues to children. The organization states that its mission is “to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth around the globe.” This includes through “storytelling and media.” The organization explains: “We work in all forms of media to bring messages of hope to LGBTQ+ youth, spark conversations about the challenges they confront, and inform and positively influence their sexual orientation and gender identity journey.”
IDEA North Mission College Preparatory is operated by the organization IDEA Public Schools. The organization claims to operate at least 120 public charter schools with more than 63,000 students throughout the country.
IDEA Public Schools appears to embrace the idea of racial equity. On a “core values” page, the organization states online: “We differentiate our support and resources, proactively address racism and discrimination, and advocate alongside our students and staff to empower them with the opportunities to succeed and ensure the respect they deserve.” The organization’s website then links to a video of students discussing “equity.”
The organization also has a “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” page online. IDEA Public Schools states: “To achieve our mission, we commit to be a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist organization, where we honor and include the voices, values, and beliefs of all our students, staff, alumni, families, and community members.” The organization further states:
To realize this vision, we work collectively to increase our cultural competency and capacity to productively engage across all lines of difference. This allows us to identify, disrupt, and rebuild more equitable policies and practices for all our students, families, and staff. We recognize and are committed to the continuous learning necessary to be an organization that strengthens diversity, uplifts equity, and honors inclusion.
This page has a section labeled “Anti-Racism and Anti-Bias.” The organization explains that “we recognize that racism, bias, and privilege exist in society.” IDEA Public Schools then states: “We are committed to recognizing the impact of racism and privilege, and commit as an organization to have equitable practices, policies, and structures.” The organization further explains what it will do to ensure “anti-racism” and “anti-bias” are implemented into schools:
- Continually examining mindsets, behaviors, and structures by engaging in ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings to build awareness, knowledge, and skills and engage in open discourse.
- Challenging the status quo and continuously examining our actions to ensure we do not have practices, policies, and systems that may contribute to inequities.
- Addressing the inequities that exist in our schools through acknowledging the broader social and historical context of the communities we serve and sharing power through inviting our students, families, and staff to be a part of the decision-making process in our schools.
- Advocating for our students and families by publicly engaging on issues that affect them and the communities we serve.
- Cultivating an environment of deep belonging by prioritizing relationship, understanding the strengths and assets of the communities we serve, and embedding those strengths and assets into our schools through living out our core values.
- Ongoing learning and development to close any gaps between our commitments and where we are currently, which requires humility to grow, adjust, and change—even if it’s uncomfortable.
IDEA Public Schools additionally has a “Chief College and Diversity Officer.”