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Community Building

The Sheff Movement is a coalition of parents, students, educators, and community members working to expand awareness about Connecticut’s successful voluntary, two-way interdistrict school integration programs and promote improvement and expansion of these programs. Our ultimate goal is to promote quality integrated education for all children.  We do this primarily through outreach, advocacy, and community building activities.

The Sheff Movement coalition’s efforts play an important role in supporting families whose children participate (or would like to participate) in our region’s integration programs. Our ultimate goal is to make quality integrated education available to all students and families who want it.

To that end, we aim to:

  1. Increase public awareness about Sheff v. O’Neill and, more generally, the importance of integration;

  2. Ensure that parents and policymakers have access to data and information that helps them make sound decisions about whether to support and/or participate in our region’s integration programs;

  3. Identify policies, practices, and attitudes that undermine ongoing efforts to provide quality integrated education for all children and take steps to improve them;

  4. Grow a network of parents, educators, and community members who are willing to share their perspectives and experiences; and

  5. Provide a space for families, students, educators, and supporters to coalesce around a shared commitment to quality, integrated education for all.


An important part of the Sheff Movement’s work is educating the broader community about the history and achievements of our regional, voluntary two-way integration system. Many of the families who benefit from these schools and programs do not know that they are part of a regional system that grew out of an earlier generation’s struggle for justice and equity. Our experience is that understanding that history inspires people to become engaged in the effort to maintain a public commitment to quality integrated education and to continue expanding these opportunities to reach more families and students throughout the region.

Our outreach activities include:

  • Presentations to PTO/PTA meetings, and other school and community groups

  • Delivering presentations and sharing literature at public gatherings and events

  • Building and sustaining relationships with educators, school leaders, parents, and students


The Sheff Movement pursues a variety of advocacy strategies to ensure that policymakers have accurate and up-to-date information as they prepare to make decisions that will affect the region’s voluntary, two-way integration system. Our most effective resources are the parents, educators, and students who can share their experiences, voice their support, and remind policymakers that these programs provide tangible benefits to families throughout the region. Organizing these opportunities for parents and students to reflect upon and speak about their personal experiences also increases their knowledge and skills, and builds a sense of shared commitment to securing quality integrated education for all children.

Our advocacy strategies include:

  • An Advocacy Day that brings together parents, students, educators and allies from across the region to meet with legislators and provide a visible presence at the Capitol

  • Building a network of active supporters who can respond quickly with phone calls or letters to elected officials

  • Publishing opinion articles in local and regional news outlets

  • Preparing and distributing fact sheets and other informative materials to policymakers


The Sheff Movement provides a space for families, students, educators, and supporters all across the region to coalesce around a shared commitment to quality, integrated education for all. We firmly believe that creating opportunities for people–parents, business leaders, community advocates, and policymakers–to see integrated schools in action will lead to increased understanding about why quality, integrated education is worth our time, effort, and resources. Our programming is designed to support and celebrate the work of parents, educators, and students across school and district boundaries.

Here are a few examples of our community building activities:

  • The Sheff Movement’s monthly meetings, which are open to the public and draw supporters from around the region, provide a regular opportunity for parents, educators, and community members to connect with one another and help us create a path to quality, integrated education for all children.

  • Throughout the year, we also support programming in Sheff schools to recognize, celebrate, and support efforts to develop and sustain welcoming, engaged, dynamic, and academically successful learning communities. These events shine a spotlight on the opportunities that Greater Hartford’s integration programs are providing to students, families, and educators.

Get involved.

There are lots of ways you can support our work. Here are a few:

  • Join our mailing list – We’ll keep you informed of events, new research, and how you can help.

  • Share the news – Forward our emails to friends, colleagues, and family.

  • Attend our monthly meetings and other events (and invite us to yours!) – Come to our meetings/events and bring your friends, colleagues, and family.

  • Speak up! – Public officials and policymakers (legislators, school boards, superintendents, etc.) need to hear from constituents who support integration measures, including magnet schools. Take the time to share your perspectives and experiences—help us highlight successful voluntary integration programs and offer ideas on how to improve them. Here are some examples:

    • Contact your state legislator, saying you support Sheff school integration programs and asking what you can do to help. Contact us to learn more about our advocacy agenda. 

    • Engage with your Board of Education. Voice your support for integration programs when you can. For example, many suburban towns and schools have room to welcome more Hartford children in the Open Choice Program.

    • Respond to news and write a letter to the editor of your town paper or call your elected officials.

    • Talk to your neighbors and friends about these issues.

  • Donate to the Sheff Movement coalition – Your financial support of the Sheff Movement coalition is greatly appreciated, and helps us continue to mobilize people around the goal of quality, integrated education for all children.

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