The Education Trust – West published Black Minds Matter in October 2015 as a rallying point for engagement and action to the educational challenges and successes of Black children. This resource page mirrors the Black Minds Matter report and outlines promising programs across the state from early childhood to TK-12 through postsecondary education. The resources by no means include every program that serves African American youth and children in California but rather provides a snapshot of school and community programs that have documented success in supporting students and families. California is uniquely positioned to lead the way in innovative policy and culturally responsive and educational practices. We hope that this resource webpage will support advocates to connect, share, and replicate promising practices in their respective communities.
Berkeley Unified School District – Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Contact: Maggie Riddle, Director of K-8 Schools
Berkeley Unified School District offers teachers training on race and racial identify to help them infuse racially, linguistically, and culturally responsive practices into their work with students, families, and co-workers. This approach stems from the understanding that teachers do not automatically know how to deal with race-related issues. The district utilizes a “train the trainer” model in which teachers receive training from colleagues who have been tapped as “equity teacher leaders.” Additionally, principals participate in professional learning communities to discuss issues of equity.
Black Girls CODE
Contact: Kimberly Bryant
Black Girls CODE is a nonprofit organization based in Oakland that offers a variety of programs to Black girls ages 7-17 with the goal of sparking their interest in tech careers. The program operates in 10 cities across the country and offers volunteer-run workshops, multi-day hackathons, afterschool programs, summer camps, and mentorship opportunities. Within these opportunities, participants are exposed to subjects like computer science, robotics, web design, and coding.
The Calculus Roundtable
Contact: Jim Hollis, Director
The Calculus Roundtable is dedicated to increasing the number of students of color engaged in higher level math and science learning. The organization is a response to research in nine Bay Area counties revealing less than 100 Black students enrolled in Calculus. Partners include afterschool programs, community college districts and county offices of education which extend learning pathways for over 5500 students to date. Curriculum is centered on the use of real world math to solve social challenges such as designing water wells with The Water Project and studying infection diseases with a major university. Technology, mentorship, teamwork, and culturally relevant instruction are key tools and strategies. The Calculus Roundtable also provides Supplemental Educational Services (SES) to eligible students in Title I schools, school improvement plan execution and online AP/IB replacement classes.
CAAAE Greene Scholars Program
Contact: Debra Watkins
The California Alliance of African American Educators Greene Scholars Program aims to increase the number of African American youth choosing STEM career paths. It provides them hands-on STEM workshops, science fairs, engineering competitions, leadership programs, test preparation, tutoring, and field trips. Since 2001, the program has served about 450 students, 90 percent of participants have graduated from college in four years, and 60 percent have obtained degrees in STEM fields — eight times the national average for Black students.
L.A.’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow)
Contact: Regino Chavez
Phone: 213.745.1900213.745.1900 x52995
L.A.’s BEST is an afterschool program that free provides academic enrichment, homework assistance, and recreational activities to 25,000 high-need students across in the Los Angeles area. These students are served across almost 200 school sites with low test scores and high crime rates. Since its inception more than 10 years ago, participants’ grades have improved, and they are less likely to become involved in crime or drop out of school.
Los Angeles Unified School District – Chronic Absenteeism Reduction Efforts
Contact: Alicia Garoupa
Los Angeles Unified has been engaged in a series of efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism across the district through a data-centered approach. In 2011, it launched an Attendance Improvement Program to improve attendance that focused on kindergarten and 9th grade. The district added counselors at 75 school sites to track data, create incentive programs, and reach out to families. In 2012, it launched an attendance awareness campaign called “I’m in.” Through these and other strategies, the proportion of kindergarteners attending school regularly increased significantly, and chronic absenteeism rates for TK/K African American students in program schools were more than halved from 2012 to 2013.
Oakland Unified School District – Office of African American Male Achievement
Contact: Christopher Chatmon, Executive Director
Oakland Unified established its Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) in 2010 to address the epidemic failure of African American male students in the district. The AAMA office closely collaborates with staff overseeing the district’s community schools partnerships, its Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) programs, its teacher professional development programs, and curriculum development efforts. AAMA’s hallmark program, the Manhood Development Program (MDP), enrolls over 400 Black male students at 16 schools. The elective course is designed to address and counteract the often negative narrative about African American males, help students develop a strong sense of self, and help to close the achievement gap between Black young men and their White male counterparts.
Sacramento City Unified School District
Contact: Stacey Bell
Sacramento City Unified offers a variety of in-school and expanded learning youth development initiatives for students of color, and African American students in particular. The district embraces a social justice youth development framework and partners with local service providers for a number of its programs. One key program SCUSD offers is the Men’s Leadership Academy, available to students during and after school. The program focuses on leadership development, culturally relevant content, and restorative justice practices. It has also created a parallel Women’s Leadership Academy to address issues facing girls of color. Another program the district offers is Blacks Making a Difference, an intensive mentoring and support program designed to help students establish a positive sense of identity, provide students with academic support, and expose students to college and career opportunities.
San Bernardino City Unified School District – Office of Equity & Targeted Student Support
Contact: Charles Brown, Jr., Director
The San Bernardino Unified School District formed a Task Force for African American Student Achievement in the summer of 2014. As one of its initial efforts, this task force issued a report and recommendations in collaboration with the community’s African American Education Collaborative – a coalition of nearly a dozen community, faith based, and civil rights organizations. The Task Force proposed a collective impact strategy that aims to improve outcomes in several school clusters. Action Plan Teams of district and school personnel, community and business leaders, parents, and students are tackling the key focus areas of parent engagement, student support, college readiness, and cultural competency training. These teams are studying the issues, collecting data, and proposing specific strategies.
San Francisco Unified School District – The African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative
Contact: Landon Dickey, Special Assistant
African American students account for 50 percent of SFUSD’s suspensions and 65 percent of African American students graduate compared to 82 percent of students overall. To address these disparities, SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza commissioned a study which resulted in the development of an African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative and created a new grant-funded Special Assistant position to lead the plan’s efforts. This initiative complements other district efforts to support Black students, such as the African American Postsecondary Pathway Project, which is a partnership between the district and community-based organizations designed to prepare high school seniors for post-secondary options and the workforce. The African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative revolves around three focus areas: building community support and trust, reducing implicit bias among teaching staff, and identify and replicate promising programs.
The Alameda County Public Health Department’s (ACPHD) Building Blocks Collaborative – Best Baby Zone
Contact: Rachel Berkowitz, Community Engagement & Operations Program Specialist
The Best Baby Zone in the Castlemont neighborhood of East Oakland is another example of a collaborative program designed to mitigate low birth weight and premature birth disparities. The Best Baby Zone is a community-led collaborative of various community partners working together to provide supports for families with young children aimed at improving community, health, and life outcomes. The initiative includes an Early Childhood Hub on the Castlemont High campus and a program that provides families of new infants a home visit from a nurse or case manager. Mini-grants are also awarded by a bilingual resident advisory panel to fund a variety of community-informed programs such as wellness and birth-support classes, parent leadership development, and violence prevention and support groups. The monthly Castlemont Community Market was also established to provide East Oakland residents and local entrepreneurs with a space to sells and purchase goods and energize the neighborhood economy.
Brighter Beginnings – Hello Baby Program
Contact: Angelica Ayala, Program Manager
Brighter Beginnings is an East Bay Area organization that offers a variety of early childhood home visiting programs. Hello Baby is a home visiting program designed to support expectant and new parents. A Parent Child Educator visits homes to provide resources and information on parenting, development milestones, nutrition and supports with basic service needs. The program was designed around the Strengthening Families framework which uses a communal, strengths-based, family-informed approach to meet each family’s unique needs.
The City of San Francisco’s Preschool for All Program
Contact: Laurel Kloomok, Executive Director
San Francisco makes preschool available to all of the city’s 4-year-olds. Low-income families receive free preschool or partially subsidized tuition. Preschool for All has significantly improved preschool attendance rates in San Francisco, especially among African American and Latino children. The program now serves 75 percent of all 4-year-olds in Bayview – Hunters Point, a neighborhood that has the highest African American concentration of all San Francisco’s neighborhoods.
First 5 Alameda County – Fathers Corps Program
Contact: Kevin Bremond, Program Administrator
First 5 Alameda County partners with Alameda County’s Public Health Department and Social Services Agency to offer the Fathers Corps program to build the capacity of male service providers to support the specific needs of fathers. Developed around the Strengthening Families framework, the program emphasizes the importance of fatherhood during the first five years of a child’s life. The providers, about 80 percent of whom are African American or Latino, receive training on topics such as school readiness, child development, and community violence. The program has used a train-the-trainer model to reach 50 male service providers working in 25 different agencies across the county. The service providers who have participated in this program hail from the communities they serve, offering them a deep understanding of the fathers and families they assist.
The Kern County Department of Public Health – Black Infant Health Program
Contact: Katrecia Short, BIH Coordinator
Phone: 661. 868. 0521
Black Infant Health Program aims to improve health and life outcomes among African American mothers and babies. The program is offered in 15 local health jurisdictions across California and is managed by county public health departments. The Kern County Black Infant Health Program is one of these and serves 100-125 families each year. Participating mothers meet weekly in groups both before and after birth in order to develop life skills, learn strategies for reducing stress, and build social support. Through a partnership with the local United Way and NAACP chapter, families also receive age-appropriate, sensory books to support their children’s early literacy development.
The National Black Child Development Institute – Family Empowerment Program
Contact: Angele’ Doyne, Program Manager
The National Black Child Development Institute’s (NBCDI) Family Empowerment Program has been developed to guide and coach parents with children birth through 8 years old, employing a strengths-based lens. The culturally responsive, culturally relevant, trauma sensitive curriculum builds the capacity of parents as leaders of their families so that they are fully equipped to build the capacity of their children as learners and effectively advocate for them birth through college. The program has been piloted in the Sacramento Affiliate, and other communities within the National Affiliate Network, and will launch nationwide in 2016.
San Francisco Unified School District- Early Education Department, Family Engagement & Support
Contact: Meenoo Yashar, Executive Director
San Francisco Unified School District is showing that early years wraparound services can happen within a traditional district setting. SFUSD’s Early Education Department’s Family Support Team provides a variety of engagement opportunities for parents, caregivers, and educators of pre-kindergarten students, including educational workshops and parent cafes. These opportunities are designed around the Strengthening Families framework and seek to access the funds of knowledge that families and communities possess including child development, parenting, and positive behavior strategies. The team also supports parent/caregiver leadership development through Parent Advisory Committee support, family engagement planning with school staff, and mini-grant awards to early education schools to develop family-friendly areas.
Universal Preschool for West Sacramento
Contact: Justine Jimenez, Director of Early Learning Services
Universal Preschool for West Sacramento, a partnership between the City of West Sacramento, Washington Unified School District, First 5 Yolo, First 5 California, and Yolo County Office of Education, offers high-quality preschool as well as infant and toddler care to 600 children each year. 90 percent of enrolled families are below the state poverty level. To ensure quality, teachers in the program receive coaching and professional development from respected local practitioners and professors. The program increases parent engagement and classroom quality and has resulted in significant gains in school readiness for participating students.[i] One program evaluation shows that children who attended preschool through the program were just as prepared for kindergarten as a comparison group, despite greater poverty and more limited English proficiency.
The California Acceleration Project
Contact: Katie Hern, Director
The California Acceleration Project works to transform remediation in community colleges to increase
completion and equity. Through its professional development network, community college faculty learn to redesign curricula and change their placement policies to accelerate students into credit-bearing courses. Faculty share a set of design principles for high-challenge, high-support instruction, with remediation
provided just-in-time in the context of college-level tasks. In math, CAP colleges offer redesigned pathways for students in majors that require statistics. So far, the results look promising: CAP tells us that math completion rates for Black students in CAP are four times greater than for Black students in traditional remediation.
The CSU African American Initiative
Contact: Marisela Cervantes
In partnership with churches serving predominantly African American congregations, CSU representatives build parent and student awareness about what it takes to get to college. During “Super Sunday,” CSU leaders attend services at more than 100 churches to deliver a message about the importance of preparing for college. Available in the East Bay and Los Angeles areas through church partners, the Summer Algebra Institute helps middle school students prepare for college preparatory math courses. The “Super Saturday College Fair” allows students and families to visit a CSU campus to learn about the admissions process, financial aid, careers and more.
CSU Fullerton- Male Success Initiative
Contact: Rodney Anderson
The campus also offers a Male Success Initiative, which aims to raise retention and graduation rates of low-income, first-generation, Black and Latino male students. Each MSI freshman is paired with an upperclassman mentor and a faculty mentor. Participants also attend a monthly gathering to share successes and challenges, and to offer each other moral support.
CSU Fullerton- Supplemental Instruction Program
Contact: Trista O’Connell, SI Program Coordinator
At CSU Fullerton, one of the most diverse CSU campuses, first-generation, underrepresented minority students enrolled in traditionally challenging courses have the opportunity to attend peer-led Supplemental Instruction group sessions. The program seeks to improve retention rates, graduation rats, and narrow the achievement gap for underrepresented minority students. Those students who attend on a consistent basis earn about half to one full grade higher than their peers.
The East Bay College Access Network
Contact: Arianna Morales, Program Manager
East Bay College Access Network (CAN) partners with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to increase the number of students applying for and receiving college financial aid. Through organized
collaboration between OUSD, the schools, and nonprofits, and from in-class financial aid assistance and data tracking to OUSD staff trainings, the CAN helps the district increase access to college financial aid for all students. CAN tells us that since beginning their work, schools supported by the CAN have seen a 30 percentage-point jump in the percent of students applying for Cal Grants.
The East Bay College Fund
Contact: Victor Garcia, Director of Strategic Partnerships
The Fund operates a variety of college access, persistence, and financial aid programs. Recipients of the Great Expectations Scholarship receive a four-year, $16,000 award and are paired with mentors, attend career workshops, and receive assistance to secure internships. The Launch Scholarship Program provides community college students with smaller scholarships to help them complete their degrees and transfer to four-year institutions. Since its founding in 2002, 80 percent of scholarship recipients have completed their Bachelor’s Degree within six years, a rate significantly higher than the national average for low-income students.
Riverside Unified School District’s Heritage Plan
Contact: Renee Hill, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Support
Phone: 951.788.7135951.788.7135 x80422
This district program strives to improve academic outcomes and college-going rates for African American students. Mentor teachers at each high school invite academically promising 10th graders to participate in the program. The teachers build students’ college awareness and help them plan for college. Students visit nearby colleges and universities, review their transcripts to identify A-G courses still needed for college eligibility, and receive help in completing applications for college and financial aid. Through a partnership with the University of California–Riverside’s Early Academic Outreach Program, Heritage Plan participants get help preparing for college admissions exams, drafting personal statements, and transitioning to college.
The Umoja Community
Contact: Teresa Aldredge, Counselor/Coordinator
Umoja (a term meaning “unity” in Kiswahili) has affiliated programs at 34 California community colleges. These affiliates work to increase academic performance, ensure college persistence, and raise retention rates of Black community college students. Through these programs, students learn in small communities that allow them to develop relationships with a cohort of students. They are also matched with college faculty or community member mentors, enroll in college guidance courses, have access to tutoring and supplemental instruction, and engage in service learning projects.