The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

On July 26, 2012, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order to establish the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to restore the United States as a global leader in education. President Obama, through his vision and use of his Presidential authority, sought to strengthen the nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages and to help ensure that this population would receive an education that prepares them for college and productive careers to contribute to the wellbeing of society.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Initiative) works with individuals and organizations throughout the country to highlight and share effective national and local programs, policies, and practices that support the development and success of African American students. Specifically, the Initiative highlights and mobilizes youth voice by providing platforms for African American youths to make recommendations for actions that can be taken to ensure all students feel and are safe, supported and engaged in schools, in communities, and in life. Additionally, the Initiative leverages relationships with media partners, new and traditional, to shape positive and affirming narratives of African American students, highlight and disseminate promising and proven practices, as well as provide recommendations to accelerate African American Educational excellence essential to the success of African American students, from birth through college completion and career entry.

To date, the Initiative has focused on the following three guiding principles:

  1. To provide platforms for youth (and other impacted populations) to make recommendations regarding the policies, practices and programs designed to accelerate learning and development;
  2. To highlight people, programs and practices facilitating the learning and development of African Americans students; and
  3. To serve as a liaison between and among communities supporting African American students of all ages.

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“I am honored to have been appointed by President OWhite House Summit on African American LGBTQ Youthbama to lead an Initiative that is both unapologetic and intentional in closing opportunity and achievement gaps facing African American students—all of them. Among the things I am most proud of is providing a platform upon which students themselves are celebrated for their experience and serve as experts in co-facilitating and co-creating excellent educational opportunities.”  David J. Johns, Executive Director

In the News

On October 21st David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, presented on “Disrupting Implicit Bias and Other Forms of Discrimination to Improve Access, Achievement, and Wellness for Students of Color” at the Delegate Assembly of the Florida Education Association. (Presentation)

On October 2nd The Faith-Based and Community Leaders Early Learning Toolkit was released at the 46th Annual National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) Conference in Orlando, FL. The toolkit is a comprehensive guide for faith-based and community leaders committed to the lifelong success of families and children. It identifies practices from faith-based and community organizations across the Nation and includes tips, best practices, and useful links.  This resource was drafted in collaboration with NBCDI, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education. (Toolkit)

On September 14th 18th The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans produced three sessions during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference (ALC)  in Washington, D.C. The sessions provided platforms for African American students, caring and concerned adults, and public figures to discuss ways to support African American students. The ALC sessions included the Professional Development Series for Educators and a specific workshop: ESSA – Supporting Student Success, including through the Ensuring Every Student Succeeds Act; Producing STEM STARS: Supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Success among African American Students; and an Emerging Leaders luncheon: Opportunities to Support African American Educational Excellence. Each session placed students’ needs at the center of the discussion, which resulted in though-provoking dialogue between students, educators, and caring and concerned adults. Panels featured high school students, college students, representatives from companies and organizations, as well as public figures. The goal across each session was to ensure attendees walked away with clear, implementable actions they can take to support African American students. (Session Summaries)

On September 16th The Next Generation: A College Completion Toolkit for First-Generation and Non-Traditional Students developed by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans was released during the US Secretary of Education John King’s Bus Tour as part of the College Completion Fact sheet. The toolkit provides information and support for first-generation students, families, and postsecondary institutions that ensure students receive a quality postsecondary education. Included in this toolkit is a step-by-step guide to help families and communities support first-generation African-American students in preparing for college admission. (Toolkit)

On August 17th The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted the White House Summit on African American Educational Excellence at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, MO in partnership with Teach for America and Wells Fargo & Company. (Article)

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