On May 7, 2018, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans held Reimagining the Educator Workforce: African American Teacher Diversity Summit. This summit opened dialogue between educators and educational leaders regarding teacher preparation and cultural competency in the classroom. The goals of the summit were to:
- Highlight research describing the impact that diversity in schools, specifically racial diversity in the teacher workforce, has on students of color;
- Introduce African American college students to a network of diverse education professionals and resources to help navigate entry into the teaching field; and
- Exchange ideas surrounding diverse teacher recruitment, preparation and retention.
- Dr. Elmer Harris, a U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow and 5th grade teacher at Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Colorado Springs School District;
- Dr. William Hayes, the founding principal of Mastery High School of Camden in Camden, New Jersey; and
- Dr. Lynne G. Long, the Director of Field Experiences and the Chair for the Department of Teaching, Learning and Professional Development in the College of Education at Bowie State University.
The purpose of this event was to inform participants of proven programs and initiatives that recruit and support African American students in earning teaching credentials; to show appreciation to teachers representing diverse backgrounds; and to highlight the importance of having an educator workforce where African American students are represented. Hosting this event during National Teacher Appreciation week provided an opportunity to thank teachers for all that they do inside and outside of the classroom to contribute to African American student achievement.
On April 3, 2018, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans in conjunction with the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships held the MLK Legacy Innovative Service Award Celebration.
On March 15, 2018, Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint spoke on a panel with Jason Botel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, along with Denisha Merriweather, School Choice Liaison in the Office of Communication and Outreach, to a group of students from Alabama participating in the Marching On: Montgomery to DC program for high school students. Students later were greeted by Secretary DeVos.
On February 27, 2018, Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint served as a member of the Black History Month Planning Committee and hosted the 2018 African American History Month Celebration: African Americans in Times of War event at the U.S. Department of Education. The keynote speaker was SGM (Ret.) Ronald E. Fetherson of the U.S. Marine Corps.
On December 15, 2017, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted the 3rd Annual AfAmWomenLead: Summit to Advance Educational Excellence for Black Girls.
African American Women Lead (AfAmWomenLead) is a student leadership summit tailored to African American student leaders and the civic organizations that support their academic excellence. This event allowed the Initiative to facilitate conversation among participating organizations and individuals, institutions and organizations interested in engaging Black women and girls.
The goals for the summit included:
- Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) access and equity;
- Creating safe and supportive Prekindergarten-College Completion (P-20) learning environments and support systems; and
- Increasing postsecondary access and completion.
Workshop presenters included:
- Vincena Allen, Chief College Success Officer, SEED Foundation
- Charlene Brown-McKenzie, Director, Center for Multicultural Equity & Access, Executive Director, Institute for College Preparation, Georgetown University
- Bernadette Gailliard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Program for Early Career Excellence (PECE), Rutgers University – New Brunswick Campus
- Grace E. Henry, Ed.D., Director of Diversity and Inclusion, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, George Washington University
- Andrea Thomas, Executive Vice President, United Planning Organization
18 year old Thessalonika Arzu-Embry served as the student keynote speaker. Dr. Thessalonika received her Bachelor’s degree by age 14 and Ph.D. earlier this year and is a world-renowned expert on education, intelligence, and investment.
#AfAmWomenLead convened a youth leadership summit to engage middle and high school girls in conversation about the issues facing them and the steps they’ve taken as community and campus leaders to pursue educational excellence.
On December 7, 2017, Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint presented on a panel titled the Power of Mentoring for the U.S. Department of Education’s Mentoring Program. Advisor Toussaint spoke to her unique experience of serving as both a mentee and then later a mentor in the program.
On October 23 – 24, 2017, Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint attended the #RealCollege Convening in Philadelphia, PA. Led by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, researchers and practitioners from across the nation came together to discuss the issue of college food and housing insecurity.
On September 29, 2017, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted a Summit on Postsecondary Success for African American Students. The goals for the summit included:
- Equipping students with the tools they need in order to successfully navigate their postsecondary careers;
- Summarizing trends on the current status of minority students in developmental education;
- Embracing and affirming minority students who may benefit from developmental education opportunities; and
- Highlighting promising and proven strategies to ensure minority students receive optimal learning and development opportunities that enable them to fully participate in society through post-secondary success.
The summit kicked off with a discussion led by student speaker Kyonne Rowe, senior at Cornell University. The insightful event continued with a panel titled Reimagining Opportunities to Support Minority Students in Postsecondary Education featured the following professionals:
- Moderator: Beatriz Ceja – Williams, Director, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Office of Postsecondary Education, US Department of Education;
- Erin Berg, Community College Program Specialist, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, US Department of Education;
- Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Professor and Dean, School of Education, American University;
- John W. Rawlins III, Assistant Director of Leadership Development, Office of Multicultural Affairs, John Hopkins University; and
- Dr. Charles L. Sexton III, Mathematics Instructional Specialist, Trinity Washington University.
On July 24, 2017, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted a Summit on Supporting African American Youth with Disabilities in honor of the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Kristin Kushiyama from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) highlighted the new Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) website https://sites.ed.gov/idea/. This website is a new information hub that provides resources targeted towards students, educators, parents and community leaders—the audience of Monday’s event.
Following the introduction of the IDEA information hub was a student-led interactive workshop that featured Diplomat, Matthew Brown, of Eye to Eye National. Eye to Eye National is a mentorship program that strives to improve the lives of youth with learning disabilities. Through this program, students learn the skills necessary to become self-advocates, build their self-esteem, and value their unique minds, all the while maintaining a strong system of support. An exceptional Matthew Brown provided a personal account as an African American male with dyslexia, dysgraphia, executive functioning and attention deficit-disorder. Matthew has exemplified the importance of self-advocacy and communal support, as a successful student, mentor, and diplomat of Eye to Eye.
During his workshop, participants pinpointed their greatest strength through an activity entitled Megaphone Project.Through engaging in this hands-on activity, students with disabilities were able to redefine the way that others may view their disabilities amidst fostering conversation highlighting strategies for communal support.
The panel discussion consisted of a range of special education advocates who discussed reimagining opportunities for African American students with disabilities.This panel included:
- Genee Norbert, Secondary Transition Lead, OSERS US Department of Education;
- Kirk Lew, Senior Policy Advisor, Youth Workforce Systems Policy, Office of Disability Employment, US Department of Labor;
- Julie Washington, Ph. D., Director, Communication Sciences and Disorders Program, Georgia State University;
- Ronnie Sydney II, MSW, Outpatient Therapist, Middle Peninsula-North Neck Community Services Board;
- Lena McKnight, College Student and Youth Advocate; and
- Kristin Shymoniak, M.Ed., Lead Special Education Teacher, 2017 American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Bill and Melinda Gates Women in School Leadership Award Recipient.
Each panelist provided a different perspective based on their personal experiences as an African American with disabilities or with African American youth with disabilities. The panelists honed in on identifying one’s disability in order to have access to necessary services. The importance of familial support was emphasized; however, first-degree families may also suffer from similar issues that remain unidentified. This is where the support of one’s community becomes imperative. The panelists further discussed the need for parent advocacy and involvement, as well as shifting the image of students with disabilities from seemingly having behavioral issues to that of a learning disability.
With a full house of 200 attendees, students and parents of students with disabilities continued this discussion by expressing their need for communal and institutional support, in order to ensure success both inside and outside of the classroom. Post-reflection, parents, panelists, and students shared effective resources and strategies to advocate for inclusivity while navigating the educational setting, and beyond.
Brandon Sherman, Senior Counsel to the Assistant Secretary, from the Office of Civil Rights provided closing remarks. Sherman discussed the resources provided by the Office of Civil Rights for students with disabilities, which can be found on: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/.
On June 22, 2017, Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint co-presented on Pursuing Systemic Change to Advance Family Engagement at the National Family and Community Engagement Conference in San Francisco, CA. Alongside Keami Harris, Director of Capacity Building Programs for the National Association of Family, School and Community Engagement, the presentation focused on cultural responsiveness and building capacity to implement high-impact family engagement practices.
On June 11, 2017, Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint moderated a panel on Engaging Families through Faith-based Organizations during the “Engaging Fathers and Families” Convening held by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in Washington, DC.
On May 23, 2017, Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint spoke on a panel titled Engaging Marginalized Families during the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Practices for Family Engagement program in Washington, DC. The daylong event featured a discussion with experts and small-group workshops and brought together educators and families to share success stories and lessons learned for bringing families to schools and schools to families. (Livestream)
On March 28, 2017, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted a Full STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Ahead Summit to advance educational excellence in the STEAM fields. This summit was a response to address the need to get more students involved in STEAM educational subjects and careers.
The morning summit provided a platform for students and stakeholders to share recommendations on the foundations to achieving educational excellence for STEAM education and careers. The summit was the first summit that the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans held in 2017. The Full STEAM Ahead Summit included four panelists: Joeletta Patrick who serves as the Manager of the Minority University Research and Education Program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Tiera Guinn who is a Rocket Structural Design Engineer for the Space Launch system at NASA; Korin Reid who is a Senior Data Scientist at McKesson Health Solutions; and Janett Martinez who serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Loomia – a smart fabric company voted startup of the year by Wareable.
Pictured left to right: Joeletta Patrick, Korin Reid, Janett Martinez, and Tiera Guinn
The Full STEAM Ahead Summit began with a demonstration from the joint D.C. International School and E.L. Haynes Public Charter School Robotics Team. The team shared their insights that they have learned as a result of being members of the Robotics team.
“Music and robotics are mathematically based; you can get a robot to dance if you want.” –Team Member
Following the demonstration, the summit featured a panel comprised of ground breaking African American Female STEAM leaders. The panelist each took the time to discuss how they made it to their current positions. They took grave detail in describing the intuition it takes to become a leader in STEAM. Later, the panelists took the time to answer student questions regarding the countless pathways to a successful career in STEAM fields. (Blog)
“Everybody’s path is different … you create your own success story” – Tiera Guinn
On March 8, 2017 Senior Advisor Monique Toussaint presented on the Crisis in Black Education for the USDA Office of the Inspector General’s Black History Month Observance program.
On March 2, 2017 the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted its first reading party of the year for D.C. public school students! This celebration of African American readership and authorship was aligned with Read Across America Day – a nationwide celebration of literacy.
The reading party’s sixty participants from Perry Street Prep and Center City Public Charter Schools were actively engaged during the reading of Debbie Allen’s book, Dancing in the Wings – the story of an African American girl with dreams of being accepted as a ballerina.
After the reading, the students displayed their own talents as authors and illustrators. Students designed the covers for their up-coming book releases, drawing on the work of their literary heroes. Students left with copies of their illustrations, along with the reassurance that they too will be noticed for their distinctive talents.
Summits on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Summit Brochure)
The Initiative is proud of our signature AfAmEdSummits –a partnership with Johnson Publishing Company (EBONY Magazine), which provides African American students with the opportunity to share their experiences and make recommendations for how caring and concerned adults can ensure students feel and are safe, engaged and supported—both in school and in life. AfAmEdSummits provide us with a chance to hear from those most impacted by the decisions adults make–students. We are hopeful that our efforts to highlight the importance of listening to students and to responding to their needs and recommendations inform both policy and practice.
GOALS FOR THE SUMMIT SERIES INCLUDE:
- Raising awareness about the importance of investing in African American educational excellence to ensure African American students, schools, and communities are supported in learning and development opportunities beginning at birth;
- Highlighting individuals and organizations who are successfully supporting African American educational excellence;
- Supporting community engagement by creating opportunities for parents, grandparents, guardians and caring adults to increase the number of African American’s who graduate from high school prepared for future success.
Summits have been produced at the follow institutions:
- Morehouse College
- Jackson State University
- Laney College
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of California Los Angeles
- University of California Davis
- Loyola Marymount University
- University of Nevada-Las Vegas
- Las Vegas Clark County Black Caucus
To support individuals, communities and organizations in hosting their own event for students, we created an AfAmEdTeachIn toolkit. Since its launch in October 2015, five schools/community based organizations have held AfAmEd Teach-Ins and are using it to plan future events.
Teach Ins have been hosted by:
- Cesar Chavez Public Charter School
- Southern Methodist University
- United Teachers of Los Angeles
- University of Southern California
PREVIOUS 2016 SUMMITS:
AfAmWomenLead Student Summit to Ensure Equity for Black Girls
The Second Annual AfAmWomenLead Student Summit to Ensure Equity for Black Girls occurred on December 9, 2016. The daylong convening provided a platform for experts, 250 young Black students, to meet other students, share their stories, make recommendations for how caring and concerned adults and institutions can ensure all students feel safe, engaged, and supported, and to highlight opportunities and resources to facilitate meaningful engagement. Students and caring and concerned adults participated in a series of interactive learning workshops designed to teach the “hidden curriculum,”elevate student voice, provide a forum to design innovative solutions to contemporary problems, and develop concrete recommendations to advance the field. As part of their participation, 50 adults (e.g. federal government officials, educators, administrators, counselors, media moguls, afterschool programs) made commitments to integrate lessons learned during the convening to advance the work of supporting Black girls.
The Initiative presented a full day of events featuring brilliant student experts and women who are advancing the field and making real changes in the lives of African American women and girls. The unique forum centered the voice of students as they solve the most pressing contemporary issues facing African American women and girls. Adults gathered to discuss their work and form a network that will last through the Administration change. These groups guide the field in ensuring equity.
Download and share the AfAmWomenLead Summit report
White House Summit on African American LGBTQ Youth
From June 10, 2016 – June 13, 2016 the White House Initiative (Initiative) on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted the inaugural White House Summit on African American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) Youth in Washington, DC in partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). The Summit hosted nearly 200 participants, and provided a platform for African American LGBTQ students to make recommendations to adults, educators, and advocates to ensure all students feel safe, engaged and supported – in school and in life. The four-day Summit consisted of a series of webinars including educators and LGBTQ youth leaders, a youth pre-convening, the Summit, a White House reception, and a stakeholder breakfast
White House Summit to Support African American Students with Disabilities
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (the Initiative) hosted a White House Summit on African-American students with disabilities on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, which also happens to be the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The daylong convening explored the unique needs of African-American students with disabilities, highlighting promising and proven strategies to ensure that the cognitive, social and emotional learning and development of these students are nurtured to ensure success in school and in life. The summit provided a platform for African-American youth with disabilities to form meaningful connections with peers, learn about available resources to support their learning and development, and to make recommendations for actions that caring and concerned adults can take to ensure all African-American students are safe, engaged and supported in schools. The event can be watched via: http://edstream.ed.gov/webcast/Play/ab99da767e8f41d789f332a76cf77c471d
AfAmEdSummit at the University of California, Davis
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans in collaboration with University of California, Davis, and the California Student Aid Commission hosted an AfAmEdSummit at the University of California, Davis on April 6, 2016, in Davis, California. This AfAmEdSummit provided a platform for experts, Black students, to make recommendations for how caring and concerned adults and institutions like University of California, Davis and surrounding, participating schools can ensure all students feel and are safe, engaged, and supported. TheAfAmEd Summit was a powerful forum that disrupted and supplanted negative stereotypes of Black students while highlighting opportunities for individuals to support the learning and development of Black students.
- Summit at Harris-Stowe focuses on educational needs of black students www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/summit-at-harris-stowe-focuses-on-educational-needs-of-black/article_0f49298b-d120-5068-8f83-cddf2f708da6.html , St. Louis Post-Dispatch August 17, 2016
- White House comes to Harris-Stowe www.stlamerican.com/news/local_news/white-house-comes-to-harris-stowe/article_8af5e6b2-64da-11e6-89ad-af0e256a453b.html , St. Louis American August 18, 2016
- White House Initiative visits St. Louis to listen to Asian-Americans, http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/white-house-initiative-visits-st-louis-listen-asian-americans-here#stream/0 , St. Louis American August 18, 2016
Webinars allow the Initiative to connect and share resources with a global network of stakeholders supporting the learning and development of African Americans of all ages. Consistent with the goals established by President Barack Obama, the Initiative conducts webinars on various topics concerning the academic excellence of African American students. Webinars enable us to connect and share resources with a global network of stakeholders supporting the learning and development of African Americans of all ages. You may find archived webinar resources here.
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Initiative) Film Screening and Discussion Series (#AfAmEdFilms) will screen films that depict positive and compelling stories of students, families, and communities striving for academic excellence. Each film challenges and disrupts negative stereotypes about African American students, families, and communities. Each film screening will be accompanied by a dialogue/community forum designed to discuss themes and topics that emerge from the film and are designed to inform a national conversation about challenges and opportunities to ensuring African American educational excellence for all children, youth, and young adults.
White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Launches Film Screening and Discussion Series at the White House
On September 21, nearly 100 high school students from Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia gathered at the White House to participate in the launch of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans’ (Initiative) Screening and Discussion Series (AfAmEdFilms). Panelists who spoke during the event include: Robin Hauser Reynolds, Director of Code: Debugging the Gender Gap; Dr. Kimberlyn Leary, Senior Advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls; Dr. Kamau Bobb, Program Director and Directorate for Computer and Information Science & Engineering at the National Science Foundation; and Chiamaka Okoroha of Microsoft.
AfAmEdFilms will highlight films and multimedia that disrupt negative stereotypes and depict positive and compelling stories of African American students, families, and communities striving for academic excellence. AfAmEdFilms will also encourage active engagement and showcase resources to facilitate opportunities for caring and concerned adults to support the learning and development of African Americans. The first film, Code: Debugging the Gender Gap, discussed racial and gender disparities in STEM programs and careers and provided a platform for a solutions-oriented discussion of ways to increase access and opportunity to the STEM pipeline for Black youth. The film supports efforts to increase access to and success in STEM courses and careers and supporting women and girls of color. MORE HERE
On August 24th the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans continued their Film Screening and Discussion Series (#AfAmEdFilms) with a screening of Queen of Katwe. Queen of Katwe is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rurual Ugana whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.