The SCHOOL FUND SOCIETY was a state organization of black citizens whose main objective was to find ways to ensure educational opportunities for black children in the state. Called together in 1835 by a concerned group of Clevelanders, the society grew out of the fledgling efforts of the city's black citizens to finance their own school because a state law, passed in 1829, specifically prohibited the attendance of black or mulatto children in public schools. Though the law provided for taxes collected from the property of colored persons to be appropriated for instruction for blacks (see AFRICAN AMERICANS), in practice funds were seldom used for this purpose.
Successful in opening schools for African Americans in Springfield, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, the School Fund Society also petitioned the state legislature to change exclusionary laws. The statewide convention to address educational concerns led to future meetings of black Ohioans, which came to be known as Conventions of the Colored People of Ohio. The conventions addressed many issues of concern, not the least of which were slavery in the South and repressive laws in the North that deprived blacks of their rights of citizenship. Among Clevelanders active in the convention movement were JOHN MALVIN, John L. Watson, WM. H. DAY, ROBT. B. LEACH, and John Brown.