Learning and Teaching with Fire

October 21, 2014

AIHECYesterday we brought you a post from Kayla Yang-Best focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Today we have a post from Kyle Erickson of Blandin Foundation, who attended the same event and shares takeaways from the Tribal Colleges portion. Thank you Kyle!

Native Americans and African Americans have traveled a very different path through time and place in America. One area of shared experience for the two cultures is a history of governmental and societal policies and systems that have resulted in a largely inequitable educational experience for their young people.

Too often, these communities – and their aggregate educational outcomes – are viewed through the lens of an “achievement gap,” or some other well-intentioned but ultimately negative point of view. “Learning and Teaching with Fire: Lessons from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges (TCUs)” provided a fresh perspective, sharing lessons of significant successes and best practices developed at these minority-serving institutions that can inform and improve education for students from any background.

Tribal College Movement Growing

According to Carrie Billy, director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Tribal College movement has grown from one institution in 1968 to 37 colleges and universities today, comprising 75 campuses that cover 80% of Indian Country and serve nearly 90,000 learners through academic and extension courses. Half of enrolled Native Americans attending college today are at a TCU. With help from these institutions, the number of Native Americans who have earned a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree has increased almost 250% over the last 20 years.

The list of TCUs includes four in Minnesota, located on the Leech Lake, Red Lake, White Earth, and Fond du Lac reservations. Billy identified significant areas of achievement at TCUs in Minnesota and across the country including:

  • Place-based research that allows TCU students to learn while addressing local and regional problems ranging from diabetes treatment and prevention to aquifer management and alternative agriculture systems.
  • Degree programs that meet community needs, including nursing, teacher education, and indigenous language studies.
  • Creation of a comprehensive data reporting system (AIHEC AIMS) that ensures accountability to communities and funders, and provides a platform for continuous institutional improvement.

The best practices for student success outlined by Billy and other TCU panelists – proactive, “intrusive” academic advising; access to experiential learning and research opportunities with support from caring faculty; wraparound student support services; designation of a go-to staff or faculty person for each student – are a part of the comfortable, familial environment cultivated at TCUs to ease the transition to postsecondary academic and social life. This is especially crucial given the high percentage of tribal college students who are the first in their family to set foot on a college campus.

Overcoming the “High Risk” Label

Dr. Don Day, President of Leech Lake Tribal College, pointed out that these successes have been gained despite daunting challenges. Commonly identified barriers to postsecondary success include being a first-generation college student, coming from a low-income household, being part of a racial/ethnic minority group, receiving inadequate academic preparation in high school, and being a parent while attending college. Nearly all TCU students fall into one or more of the “high risk” categories, and it’s not uncommon for a student to fit all of them, yet these institutions and their students are finding a path to success.

The stories of growth and achievement despite long odds and inadequate funding caught the attention of many attendees including Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray, who called for a statewide conversation to learn more about how to better support the important role Minnesota’s tribal colleges play in our educational ecosystem. If Minnesota aims to take equity in education seriously, that conversation will be the starting point of a larger, deeper body of work that will benefit Native American and non-Native learners alike.

More material from the conference can be found on the Center for School Change website.


HBCUs Share Best Practices for Student Success

October 20, 2014

cscToday on the blog we welcome MCF member Kayla Yang-Best of Bush Foundation, who will share what she learned from a recent event about Tribal Colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Thank you, Kayla!

I had the great pleasure of attending a presentation and panel discussion on Historically Black Universities and Colleges this past week. The presentation was part a larger convening hosted by the Center for School Change on Learning and Teaching with Fire: Lessons from HBCUs and Tribal Colleges.” What an invigorating discussion – one well participated by community leaders and people from a wide range of organizations and sectors, including K12 and policymakers.

We heard many examples of students of color who are succeeding in postsecondary education. I’d like to focus on a couple examples from HBCUs that left an impression on me:

  • HBCUs retain and graduate low-income, academically under-prepared students at higher rates than non-HBCUs.
  • 40 percent of Black students with degrees in STEM graduated from an HBCU.

What accounts for this success? Dr. Brian Bridges of the United Negro College Fund, one of the speakers, attributed it to “a culture of experimentation” – where HBCUs are doing things differently and intentionally. He highlighted several practices, including:

  • High level of student/faculty engagement
  • Proactive advising
  • Promoting culture and a high level of self-identity and
  • Setting high expectations.

He concluded his talk by saying “these strategies can be adapted to all education levels and settings.”

At the core of these practices is connecting to culture, that in turn creates a high level of self-identity, belonging and relationship that the kids desperately need. A good illustration of that came from the audience, a young black man, who stood up and said that he has often been told his history starts with slavery. And that is a very negative foundation to identify with. In his words, “what about before slavery? There is more to me and who I am.”

I was really moved and energized coming out of that convening. Besides learning about the great results of the practices of HBCUs and Tribal Colleges, the convening presented a positive and asset-based narrative about kids of color and achievement, which we don’t hear enough about.

Thank you to the Center for School Change for the convening.


Color Outside the Lines with Youthprise

October 16, 2014

youthpriseIs your organization creating change around the issues of bullying, school support, and/or cultural restoration within the education system? Youthprise wants to know! It’s teaming up with Youth Diverse Union for its annual video contest.

The directions for nonprofits are simple:

  1. Create a video that shows how your organization creates their own change.
  2. Upload the video to a video sharing website like YouTube or Vimeo
  3. Email in the link to your video and photo/video release by November 4.

Videos should be original content and no longer than three minutes, with parental permission required for videos featuring children 13 years old or younger.

After the contest closes on November 4, Youthprise staff and a panel of youth will judge the video entries to determine the winner. That winner will be announced on November 13 at the YDU Block Party and on Youthprise social networks.

Prizes include cash for three grand prize winners and seven runners-up, plus the opportunity to be featured in YDU’s campaign for education reform.

Visit Youthprise’s website for all the details. Good luck!

 



The Mortenson Family Foundation Seeks to Provide “A Better Chance”

May 29, 2014

7001552597_f784c2a642_zMCF member The Mortensen Family Foundation has opened an RFP for its A Better Chance grant program, to assist urban youth and families living in poverty in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This grant program is based on the foundation’s belief that:

  • Education is key to creating opportunities for parents, children and communities to thrive.
  • Educational achievement, alongside character development, happens through a comprehensive network of quality home, school and community support.
  • Continuous, intensive and relevant strategies along the cradle-to-career continuum of learning, or continuous, intensive and relevant support spanning consecutive years along this continuum, produces effective and sustainable outcomes.

To fulfill its goals, The Mortensen Family Foundation is seeking to partner with organizations that:

  • Serve youth and families living in poverty.
  • Deliver educational outcomes by providing high-achieving educational environments and connecting to youth and families’ homes, schools and communities.
  • Demonstrate strong program quality by using evidence-based strategies, evaluation processes.

Organizations may request up to $25,000 in program, project or unrestricted support. The foundation will not fund an entire project or organization budget, but prefers to be part of an effort supported by a number of sources.

Letters of Inquiry are due June 12. Read more about the program and how to apply on MCF’s website.

Photo cc Berkely Unified School District
  • Education is key to creating opportunities for parents, children and communities to thrive.
  • Educational achievement, alongside character development, happens through a comprehensive network of quality home, school and community support.
  • Continuous, intensive and relevant strategies along the cradle-to-career continuum of learning, or continuous, intensive and relevant support spanning consecutive years along this continuum, produces effective and sustainable outcomes.

- See more at: http://www.mcf.org/news/mortenson-better-chance#sthash.ABbtfNFk.dpuf


What Will It Take to Build a Beloved Community?

May 19, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 1.43.35 PMLast week a report on black male achievement commissioned by the Foundation Center and the Open Society Foundation was released: Building a Beloved Community: Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement.

The report builds on the 2012 study Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boysmaps current work in the area of black male achievement and makes recommendations on what it will take to strengthen the field moving forward.

Based on interviews with 50 leaders in the social, academic, government and business sectors, the report takes stock of major sectors engaged in the field and examines opportunities for other constituencies — especially the corporate and faith sectors — to become more involved.

A “Rethink Philanthropy” chapter calls for longer funding commitments, increased general operating support, permanent endowments and other ways of moving beyond traditional philanthropy.

Susan Taylor Batten, CEO of ABFE, characterizes such efforts as transformational philanthropy and says:

“Ultimately, we have to find ways to ‘hard wire’ a race and gender lens into all investments rather than setting up special projects that are time-limited. The latter is important, but one of our goals is to change the sector so investments in black male achievement are not dependent on a particular leader.”

It is a timely release in light of a growing number of national initiatives focused on improving the economic, social and physical well-being of black males, including My Brother’s Keeper and the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color.

Beloved Community

The concept of a “Beloved Community” was popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a core part of his philosophy.

According to The King Center: Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

Sounds like a world worth working for.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

 


Engaging Families in Early Childhood Programs and Policies

May 8, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 3.46.24 PMThe Start Early Funders Coalition champions affordable, accessible, high quality care and education for children in Minnesota by leveraging the group’s funding interests to advance public policy and community supports for early childhood education and programs.

Last month the coalition convened community leaders and practitioners to provide information on effectively engaging families in early childhood programs and policies.

The convening focused on two questions:

  • What exactly does “family engagement” mean?
  • How can we implement effective strategies for developing family partnerships, particularly across diverse cultures and varied early childhood programs?”

Family & Community Engagement for Healthy Child Development

Betty Emerita, consultant, Development and Training Inc., and Richard Chase, senior research manager, Wilder Foundation, examined family and community knowledge systems — the informal and formal ways that children learn at home and in their community.

The Family and Community Knowledge Systems Project:

  • Underscores the importance of how programs recognize, interact with and support these important systems in which children are embedded.
  • Aims to expand how we define and support healthy whole-child development and program quality from the perspective of family and community knowledge systems.
  • Highlights and measures ways to strengthen family and community engagement with formal systems to improve early childhood programs, policies, and practices — particularly for low-income children and children of color.

For more on their research, read the resulting publication: Promoting and Measuring Family and Community Engagement for Healthy Early Childhood Development.

Barb Fabre, director of White Earth Reservation child care, and Carolyn Smallwood, executive director, Way to Grow, reflected on their experience using the family and community engagement tool and noted that it increased positive family engagement outcomes and deepened the engagement and understanding of the children and families they served.

Family Engagement Programs and Best Practices

Christine DeGroote, early childhood education specialist, Head Start, presented the organization’s engagement framework for parents, family and community and its success measures. She highlighted the importance of crossing contexts at home, in early childhood programs, school and community to ensure success for children and families.

Mi Yang, parent leadership trainer, Cross-Cultural Leadership Action Program (C-Clap) presented curriculum that her organization used to train community leaders, relatives, parents and providers to educate and empower parents. She encouraged the audience to consider the following:

  1. All parents want their children to succeed
  2. We must believe in parent’s best intentions
  3. Change begins with knowledge

Andre Dukes, family academy director, Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), presented NAZ’s ending multigenerational poverty approach, highlighting the role of the Family Academy’s parent curriculum, which builds upon a family’s existing strengthens and then adds tools to parents’ skill sets to increase positive parenting practices.

Ellen Haefner, early childhood family educator, reviewed Faribault’s Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program structure and highlighted initiatives surrounding parent education and opportunities for children and families.

Cisa Keller, director of government and community relations, New Horizons Academy, noted implications for effective family engagement with regard to public policy, including an increase of early learning scholarships and multiple federal efforts such as, Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships, proposed CCDBG changes and more.

Rae Jean Hansen, senior program officer, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, closed by encouraging attendees to use the research and best practices of the panelists to further work for effective family education and high quality early care.

- Tiffany Wilson-Worsley, MCF public policy and government relations fellow

 


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