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Collaborative Aims to Support African American Students

A newly formed academic support collaborative aims to address the achievement gap between African-American high school students and their peers in Richmond—and For Richmond is proud to be a part of it.

Joining For Richmond in the African-American Support Collaborative is Alive & Free and the West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau, unified by the common goal of supporting African-American parents and students as they navigate the students’ educational roadmap at John F. Kennedy (Kennedy) and Richmond High Schools.

The persistent achievement gap between African-American students and their peers is a troubling fact that has been widely reported.

According to The Education Trust’s report “The State of Education for African-American Students,” only two in three African-American students graduated from high school on time nationwide in 2012, as compared with 86 percent of white students. Among those African-American students who took the ACT test, only one in 20 met all four college-readiness benchmarks, compared with one in three white graduates who did so.

“We’ve worked for many years with the best of intentions to improve the outcomes for our African- American students and to more fully engage their parents in our schools,” West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Superintendent Dr. Bruce Harter said. “Yet, the achievement gap persists and we continue to have racial predictability in student performance from an early age.”

“So we’re committed to the partnership that the African-American Support Collaborative offers and we’ll do all we can to engage and empower our African-American parents to bring about equity in outcomes for our African-American students,” Dr. Harter added.

The collaborative’s two main goals are: To support the WCCUSD in closing the academic achievement gap by ensuring that parents are participating at their child’s school by bridging the relationship between the school district and African-American families; and to help African-American parents engage or re-engage in the educational process to ensure that our students are successful, served, supported, uplifted, valued—and most importantly—educated.

“I think that the goal here is to build community and to get everyone involved,” said Dr. Joseph E. Marshall, Jr., executive director and co-founder of Alive & Free in San Francisco. “Families want to help make their kids’ dreams come true. This is an effort to support the family in doing this.”

The collaborative’s mission will be put into action through workshops it hosts for parents and students from Kennedy and Richmond High Schools at For Richmond’s office, 3109 Macdonald Avenue, Richmond.

The Parent Workshops, which will convene monthly, will be conducted by the Youth Service Bureau and will cover topics such as how to advocate for your child, parent/student educational rights, how to support your child’s education, the importance of participating on the School Site Council, and other topics relevant to promoting youth academic success.

The student workshops will be held weekly on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and will be led by Dr. Marshall of Alive & Free. Both sets of workshops will continue throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, with anticipated renewal next fall.

“We are thrilled to be teaming up with like-minded organizations to help close the academic achievement gap for African-American students in Richmond,” said Kyra Worthy, For Richmond’s executive director. “By aligning our efforts with parents and students from local high schools, I’m confident that we can make some real and significant progress to quell this disturbing trend.”

For more information about the African-American Support Collaborative, contact For Richmond at 510-260-0290 or email info@4richmond.org.

“Our goal is…to keep our young people alive, unharmed by violence, free from incarceration and to provide them with something that will help determine their future in a wonderful way through education,” said Dr. Marshall. “Our motto is ‘Alive & Free and educated’—and that’s what we want to do for the young people of Richmond.”