The Crisis in Black Education | Early Disparities

By Lisa Dyas February 3, 2017

This February, we will share a series of posts examining the education system, and the crucial role education has played in the lives of African Americans. We hope these posts will increase awareness, spark conversations, encourage self-reflection and lead to deeper explorations about the education system’s responsibility to a fair and just society. We hope that you will join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

The Crisis in Black Education | Early Disparities

by Jane Fischberg

Education continues to be an important strategy to achieve economic mobility, and gain access to higher quality of life.  However, 60 years after the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision that desegregated schools, there are still gross inequities along racial lines.  Research on disparities and long-term outcomes for African American children expose the bleak truth: African Americans are disproportionately shut out of meaningful educational opportunities.

African American students are less likely than white students to have access to rigorous readiness curriculum -- and they are more likely be suspended from school for the same infractions,  and to be taught by less experienced teachers, according to comprehensive data from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. 

One of the striking facts to emerge from the data is that disparities start as early as early childhood education (ECE) programs.  

African American children from low-income homes tend to be in ECE classrooms with lower ratings of instructional support.  Students of color are more likely than their peers to attend schools with a higher concentration of first-year and inexperienced teachers. Teachers in predominately black and Latino schools are paid less than their counterparts, resulting in high turnover.  As a result, too many African American children enter kindergarten a year or more behind in academic and social-emotional skills.  Starting out school from behind can trap students in a cycle of continuous catch-up in their learning.

In ECE programs, African American children are 3.6 times more likely to face suspension than their white peers.  Black boys are 19 percent of preschool boys, but represent 45 percent of male preschool children who are suspended.  Similarly, Black girls are 20 percent of female preschool enrollment, but experience 54 percent of suspensions among preschool girls. This phenomenon can send the message to children that they are “bad” and not welcomed at school.  Black boys, especially, suffer, because this feeds the dominant cultural narrative that Black men are dangerous.  This biased approach to discipline can trigger a lifetime of identity issues and disenfranchisement.

Access to high-quality ECE can boost cognitive and social skills in children, help mitigate for disparities in early learning experiences and the effects of childhood trauma, and improve long-term economic and life indicators for low-income African American children and other children of color.  These are all critical benefits that can help break the cycle of poverty and reduce inequality over the long run. 

If you would like to find out what you can do to increase access to quality ECE, connect with the National Black Child Development Institute – you can track its efforts to support federal, state and local initiatives to provide increasing numbers of children with access to quality early education and care, and learn how to add your voice.

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Celebrating Black History Month

By Lisa Dyas February 2, 2017

Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History established Negro History Week in 1926 to celebrate and elevate the achievements of African Americans. Negro History Week took root in cities across the country and by the 1960's had become a month-long celebration. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford was the first U.S. president to recognize Black History Month nationally and hailed it as an opportunity to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

From its beginnings, Dr. Woodson and his colleagues provided a theme for Negro History Week as a starting point for shared learning. Past themes have included Civilization: A World Achievement in 1928, Fulfilling America’s Promise: Black History Month in 1975, and this year's theme, The Crisis in Black Education. This February, we will share a series of posts examining the education system, and the crucial role education has played in the lives of African Americans. We hope these posts will increase awareness, spark conversations, encourage self-reflection and lead to deeper explorations about the education system’s responsibility to a fair and just society.

Rubicon intentionally affirms the struggle for social justice and parity by African Americans because it actively dismantles systemic racism.  When we invest in truth telling to change attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs; when we correct even one misrepresentation or misunderstanding of who contributed to, shaped, and built this nation;  when we shine a light on systems that contribute to and perpetuate the cycle of disparity, disenfranchisement, and unequal access; when we engage in these acts, we chip away at systemic racism -- which is inextricably tied to the root cause of poverty.

The voice of our community is invaluable, and we invite you to share your thoughts, observations, and inspirations on Black History Month with us on Facebook and Twitter

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Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Adrienne Kimball January 14, 2017

button with MLKOn December 4, 1967 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.announced plans for a Poor People’s Campaign.  He called for transformative actions to end poverty. Despite his assassination and deep divisions in the country and movement, the mobilization of poor people continued.
Today we are experiencing poverty and hardship in the midst of unprecedented abundance and record inequality. In the United States, at least 46.5 million people, including 1 of every 5 children, live in poverty. Another 97.3 million are officially designated as low income. This means that nearly one in every two people is poor or low income with most others only an economic or health setback from joining them. Meanwhile, racial and gender inequality remain as deep as ever.
History has shown that a powerful movement requires the involvement and support of all people with an interest in a radically different society—which means nearly everyone. Not only are the poor increasingly drawn from every sector of society, but even those who feel economically secure see that mass poverty and economic hardship amidst such wealth and productive power violates our most sacred values.
2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign launched by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—his last, and in profound ways most far reaching and challenging, campaign. It is important to honor the anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign. Given the conditions of poverty, inequality and injustice we face today, the only genuine way to commemorate the past struggle is to launch a new one.

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Rubicon’s Community Hero

By Lisa Dyas December 7, 2016

Adrienne Kimball, center, with (from left to right) Bruce Ives, Alexandra Bernadotte, Marquise Murphy,  José Quiñonez and Daniel Lurie at the Tipping Point Annual Awards Breakfast

On December 2, 2016, Tipping Point Community hosted its 10th Annual Awards Breakfast in honor of standout community partners and individuals committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area. It was a morning of reflection — on the uncertainty many feel in the wake of the recent election, and the unifying force we become when we work together for the betterment of our community.

“Amidst all this change, we must demonstrate our values will remain, and I have no better source of hope and optimism than from our honorees here today.” Daniel Lurie, CEO + Founder

Adrienne Kimball received the Community Hero Award for her work at Rubicon Programs, a Tipping Point grantee since 2005, that focuses on transforming individual lives and improving Bay Area communities through jobs, housing and healthcare. Kimball was first introduced to Rubicon because many of her family members sought services at the organization. For seven years, she worked as the organization’s executive assistant, while today, she serves as its culture manager, helping to elevate the voice of the staff and preserve the team’s core values. “It takes a certain mindset to stay in poverty. It’s the mindset that you’re not worth it. That the solutions being offered don’t work, and the solutions that do work aren’t for you,” said Kimball. “Shifting that mindset is how we make progress.”

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Rubicon Programs Awarded 2016 Neighborhood Builders Award

By Lisa Dyas November 28, 2016

Bank of America has announced Rubicon Programs as one of two 2016 Neighborhood Builders for the San Francisco-East Bay region. Rubicon, along with Compass Family Services in San Francisco, are being recognized for their work in reducing homelessness and poverty, which in turn supports the sustainable growth of the San Francisco Bay Area economy. Through Neighborhood Builders, Bank of America provides nonprofits with a unique combination of leadership development, $200,000 in flexible funding, a network of peer organizations across the U.S. and the opportunity to access capital in order to expand their impact in the San Francisco Bay Area community.

“We recognize the critical role that nonprofits play in combating homelessness and poverty, creating economic progress in the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Thong Nguyen, Bank of America market president for the San Francisco-East Bay. “Through our Neighborhood Builders program, we connect outstanding organizations, like Rubicon Programs and Compass Family Services, to the funding and resources they need to scale their impact and help our community thrive.”

Rubicon Programs breaks the cycle of poverty in the East Bay by empowering its participants to develop economic mobility. "We are delighted to be selected by Bank of America for the Neighborhood Builders award,” said Jane Fischberg, CEO of Rubicon Programs. “It is an honor to be included in the company of our peers whose work we value and admire who have been past recipients. This award also brings recognition to the potential that we see in the people and neighborhoods that we serve."

Neighborhood Builders is a signature demonstration of the bank’s work to address issues fundamental to economic mobility in order to build thriving communities and illustrates how strong cross-sector partnerships and local community leaders can play a meaningful role in positioning communities for success. The awardees are selected by a local market selection committee with representation by local community leaders from diverse sectors.

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