Orange County Justice United is a broad based community power organization that develops civil sector leaders with the capacity to organize and win

  • Latest from the blog


    Thank you! Here's What's next

    Justice United Members and Supporters: 

    Thank you! Your investment of time, talent, and money this spring has allowed Justice United to address the top concerns in our communities.

    Together over the last six months we organized five public actions and won tens of thousands of dollars in public investment to launch a new affordable housing pilot program (master leasing). Thanks to this program five extremely low income families and individuals now are living in housing that they could not otherwise afford.

    At this point we also appear to be on track to win funding for key diversity hiring and equity initiatives at Orange County Schools. The final budget for the district will be approved soon. 

    Over 30 JU leaders met last night to evaluate our public actions this spring and pledged participation in upcoming actions and events. The pledge sheet from the leaders meeting is available here

    Please read below to learn more about what's next.

    Please save the date for these important upcoming events! 

    Press Conference
    Monday, July 1, 7:00 PM
    Hillsborough (location TBD)
    Confirm your attendance here

    Join us to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year for Orange County Schools with a capstone, press conference action. Justice United leaders will react to the final budget approved by the Board of Education, and will lay out our community-led vision for 2019/2020. 

    JU leaders are monitoring the current budget process. We have called on the Board of Education to prioritize funding for key diversity and hiring initiatives including: the strengthening of the teacher hiring pipeline through a "Grow Your Own" teacher assistant to teacher program. 

    Relational Meeting Event
    Tuesday, July 30, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
    Hillsborough (location TBD)
    Confirm your attendance here

    This event will allow for fellowship over dinner and two, 30 minute long conversations between participants (training will be provided to help participants navigate these conversations). It is based on Justice United's successful April 2 event that brought together over 50 members of our diverse institutions. The goal is to increase our countywide power base by strengthening relationships across Justice United's broad membership. 

    Issue Briefing at Your Institution
    After service, or at other appropriate times
    Turnout goal: At least 10 members

    Learn how your congregation has taken action through Justice United to make change in the community, and to advance your institution's mission and values. This briefing will be co-led by leaders from your institution and Justice United organizer Devin Ross. More information about each briefing will be publicized internally within participating members institutions. 

    Contact Devin at devin@ocjusticeunited.org to plan an issue briefing in your community. 


    Read more

    Fund Diversity, Fund Equity

    Justice United calls on the Orange County Schools Board of Education to FUND DIVERSITY and FUND EQUITY initiatives at Orange County Schools. 

    On April 11, Board members Brenda Stephens, Sarah Smylie, and Superintendent Todd Wirt attended a Justice United meeting to brief JU leaders on new initiatives to address their concerns on increasing teacher diversity and bi-lingual front office staff at Orange County Schools.

    These initiatives include:

    • A new HR position to focus on diversity recruitment and hiring (listed as "Human Capital Management"). This new position will coordinate district recruitment efforts and outreach to university partners, and will lead a recruitment task force to address district hiring barriers and challenges facing teachers of color;

    • Tuition assistance for Orange County Schools staff pursuing one year alternative teacher preparation program that results in teacher certification (listed as "Recruitment and Talent Management").

    • Professional development series to cover equity, inclusion, and cultural awareness throughout the district (listed as "Staff PD Joint Venture").

    [see 2019/2020 Continuation/Expansion Budget Request here]

    We believe that these initiatives have the potential to increase and retain a more diverse staff - a key concern for Justice United members. 

    The County Manager has recommended a per pupil funding increase that is sufficient to pay for these initiatives - but not the full budget expansion requested by the Board of Education, which includes other items such as Maternity / Paternity Leave and restoring TA Workdays.

    If the Board of Education does not get their full expansion request they must prioritize the funding of these initiatives in order for them to become reality. Justice United calls on the Board of Education to fund diversity and fund equity first! 

    Superintendent Wirt briefs JU leaders on diversity hiring and equity initiatives (April 11)

    Justice United leaders call on Board of County Commissioners to approve funding for initiatives (May 14) 

    Read more

    Superintendent Wirt Resigns

    Last night Superintendent Wirt announced his resignation at the Orange County Board of Education meeting, effective June 30 (press link). This is an unexpected development, and it gives our May 9 Assembly even greater urgency.

    Now, more than ever, we need your support. Please read below for important background to this announcement, and to learn how you can help us take effective action on May 9. 


    Less than two weeks ago Dr. Wirt joined Orange County Board of Education Chair Brenda Stephens and Vice Chair Sarah Smylie at Justice United's Countywide Leaders Meeting to hear our reactions to strategies that they have developed to address concerns on the lack of teacher diversity and the need for more front office, bi-lingual staff within Orange County Schools. Read the report from our meeting here.

    These strategies have the potential to strengthen the school system's hiring pipeline sufficient to increase teacher diversity and bi-lingual staff. However, in order for this to become a reality the Orange County Board of County Commissioners must first approve a per pupil funding increase requested by Orange County Schools which will pay for these initiatives. 

    Orange County will hold two public budget hearings the week following our Assembly on May 14 and May 16. This is our opportunity to show up and support the OCS funding request for these hiring strategies. 

    Justice United has invited Board Chair Stephens and Vice Chair Smylie to attend our May 9 Assembly to brief our membership on these strategies. Following their presentation we will caucus to pledge support for their budget request. 

    Dr. Wirt's unexpected resignation has given our Assembly greater urgency. Now is the time to act to get this deal funded, before we encounter the inevitable delays associated with the Superintendent's transition.  

    How You Can Help

    Please follow these three steps to help us take action to address this key community issue: 

    1) Confirm your attendance today for our May 9 Assembly

    2) Recruit others from your institution to attend. Our goal is to deliver 300 members to this action. Turnout pledges from your institution are available here for reference

    3) RSVP to attend one or both of the public budget hearings to support the Orange County Schools budget requestWe will discuss this request at our May 9 Assembly. 

    Public Budget Hearing 1, May 14, 7:00 PM, Whitted Building, Hillsborough

    Public Budget Hearing 2, May 16, 7:00 PM, Southern Human Services Center, Chapel Hill

    Additional Resources: 

    Bi-lingual assembly flyer. Download and distribute within your community.

    Orange County Schools Goals for Hiring and Diversity (presented to JU on 4/11/19)

    Questions? Email Justice United Organizer Devin Ross at devin@ocjusticeunited.org, or text/call at 919 358 5828.


    Read more

    Report from Meeting with Board of Ed.

    On Thursday, April 11 Orange County Schools Board Chair Brenda Stephens, Vice Chair Sarah Smylie, and Superintendent Todd Wirt attended Justice United's Countywide Leaders Meeting to report on their progress increasing teacher diversity and bi-lingual, front office staff. 40 Justice United members were in attendance at the Cedar Grove Community Center. 

    Their report covered the following:

    • Line item detail on the $180,000 cost associated with the Equity Department (down from $350,000);
    • Clarity on how the $206,000 mentioned in the 2020 Superintendents Recommended Local Budget will be used for Recruitment and Talent Management;

    • Discussion of how staff and community members will be selected for a Recruitment and Retention Task Force, and the role of this task force;

    • The Board's strategy for hiring bi-lingual front office staff in every school.

    After the OCS leadership left JU leaders continued our meeting to evaluate the report and to develop our strategy for our public assembly on Thursday, May 9, 7:00 pm at Lattisville Grove MBC (1701 Jimmy Ed Rd, Hurdle Mills). 

    These developments appear to be promising, and have potential to begin to address our concerns. However, in order for any of the above developments to become reality the Board of County Commissioners must first approve a per pupil funding increase requested by Orange County Schools which will fund these initiatives.

    There will be two public hearings on Orange County's budget the week following our May 9 Assembly. Following our assembly, Justice United could organize turnout and support behind the Board of Education’s budget request to each of these hearings. 

    JU leaders invited Board Chair Stephens, Vice Chair Smylie, and Superintendent Wirt to attend our assembly on May 9 to be recognized for their progress addressing our concerns. Our action will be an opportunity for OCS leaders to make the case for supporting their per pupil funding increase.  

    Justice United leaders pledged to deliver 307 members to support this action. Have you confirmed your attendance to this important assembly? Please follow this link to RSVP today.

    Read more