About Us

President Obama with African American youthNearly 60 years since the Brown v Board of Education decisions, African American students continue to lack equal access to a high quality education and still lag far behind their white peers in reading and math proficiency, high school rates, and college completion.

That’s why President Obama created the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Initiative is a cross-agency effort aimed at identifying evidence-based practices that improve student achievement, and developing a national network that shares these best practices.

The Initiative will support the President’s desire to “restore the country to its role as the global leader in education, to strengthen the nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives” including in the the following ways:

  • Highlighting the role of educators and administrators in increasing and improving access to high quality learning opportunities while also finding ways to support them in their work;
  • Supporting efforts to increase the number of African American teachers and administrators, specifically the number of African American males in the profession;
  • Enhancing investments in high quality early care and education programs, specifically increasing the number of African American children enrolled in quality childcare and preschool programs;
  • Reinforcing connections to rigorous K-12 courses and increasing access to critical supports, including by strengthening relationships between schools and communities and local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers, and parent and volunteer organizations; and by
  • Helping to increase the number of African American students applying to, persisting in and successfully completing college to ensure that we meet the President’s 2020 goal of becoming the world leader in college graduates.

Leadership

Initiative Staff

David J. Johns, Executive Director

David Johns, Executive Director

David Johns, Executive Director

David J. Johns is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Initiative works across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students. Prior to joining the Department, Johns was a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under the leadership of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Before working for the Senate HELP committee under Chairman Harkin, Johns served under the leadership of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Johns also was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in the office of Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Johns has worked on issues affecting low-income and minority students, neglected youth and early childhood education and with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). His research as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow served as a catalyst to identify, disrupt and supplant negative perceptions of black males within academia and society. Johns is committed to volunteer services and maintains an active commitment to improve literacy among adolescent minority males. Johns obtained a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude while simultaneously teaching elementary school in New York City. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2004 with a triple major in English, creative writing and African American studies. Johns was named to the Root100 in both 2014 and 2013, selected as a member of the Ebony Power 100 in 2015 and received an early career award from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2016.

 

Lauren C. Mims, Assistant Director

Assistant Director

Lauren Mims, Assistant Director

Lauren C. Mims is the assistant director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Initiative works to strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives. Ms. Mims focuses her efforts on strategic planning and management of projects and priorities including mobilizing youth voice, supporting interagency relationships, the development of research-based publications, creating handbooks and resources for students, and engaging with stakeholders through multi-media platforms.  Ms. Mims was previously a fellow in the office. She has extensive experience developing and implementing communication strategies, analyzing and interpreting evaluation and research findings in education and integrating research findings across programs and organizational lines, as well as developing, implementing and evaluating evidence-based interventions for African American students. Mims received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012 and a Master of Arts degree in Child Development from Tufts University in 2014. She is also pursuing her doctorate at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science.

Interns & Fellows

  • Cierra Kaler-Jones – Spring 2016
  • Joshua Ddamulira  – Spring 2016
  • Venicia Gray (2015 – 2016 CBCF, Inc. Fellow)

Commission

President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans Meeting Transcripts