Alliance for Education Secures $1.86 Million from Seattle’s Philanthropic Community for SPS’ Department of African American Male
Fundraising effort highlights local philanthropic commitment to Seattle’s Black boys and young men and the district’s vision of supporting and serving students and families furthest from educational justice
SEATTLE — The Alliance for Education, a non-profit organization committed to advancing educational justice and racial equity for students in Seattle Public Schools (SPS), announced today the organization has secured $1.86 million in initial funding from local philanthropic organizations in support of SPS’ Department of African American Male Achievement (AAMA). Launched in August 2019, the Department of AAMA seeks to ensure Seattle Public Schools has the culture, conditions, competencies, and community connections in place for all Black and African American boys and young male students to be successful. This investment directly aligns with the Alliance for Education’s mission and with Seattle Excellence, the district's strategic plan and collective commitment to unapologetically support and serve students and families furthest from educational justice. “The Department of African American Male Achievement is a strategic driver in rebuilding our public education system to intentionally uplift the inherent strength, brilliance, creativity, and potential of our Black students. We are committed to deeply partnering with our Black students, families, and community to create a better system – one that ensures Black students thrive and have every opportunity to achieve their dreams. We are so grateful for this significant investment from the philanthropic community and the Alliance for Education,” said SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau. The Alliance for Education was established 25 years ago to engage the broader community on behalf of Seattle Public School students, and has consistently convened stakeholders, raised dollars and created innovative programs designed to support student success. In August 2019, the Alliance redesigned its strategy and mission to specifically focus on addressing inequities in our educational system, and has been engaging in outreach and education with philanthropic organizations since to build a fund in support of the Department of AAMA. The Alliance’s mission is to support excellence in education by advancing educational justice and racial equity for students in SPS. The organization’s vision is of a deeply invested community that collectively ensures all students in Seattle Public Schools experience a sense of belonging, receive an excellent and equitable education, and reach their fullest potential. “It has been inspiring to see Seattle’s philanthropic community come together in support of the Department of African American Male Achievement. This funding milestone illustrates their commitment to the success of our Black students,” said Lisa Chick, President and CEO of the Alliance for Education. “Over the past year, we have engaged our philanthropic partners in learning about this innovative new strategy, creating space for dialogue between SPS and philanthropy, and stewarding support for the Department. We’re delighted so many partners stepped up to support a sustained and collaborative campaign reimagining how we educate and support Seattle’s Black youth.” Seattle Public Schools is the first district in Washington state, and one of a few across the nation, to create and house a department that intentionally invests in the cultural and academic strengths of African American male students while simultaneously addressing their specific needs. The Alliance for Education secured the funding for the Department through contributions from multiple leading philanthropic organizations committed to supporting K12 education, including:
The Boeing Company
Casey Family Programs
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Nesholm Family Foundation
The Satya and Rao Remala Foundation
The John Stanford Fund
The initiative, first set to be announced at the Alliance for Education luncheon in March 2020, but postponed due to COVID-19, engaged more philanthropic partners and raised more funds than any other single fundraising effort the Alliance has undertaken to support innovation at Seattle Public Schools.
"Casey Family Programs is pleased to support the efforts of Seattle Public Schools and Superintendent Denise Juneau to bring about equity and improvements in education for African American male students," said Dr. William C. Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs. "In light of our nation's challenges to achieve racial equity, the school district's strategies for targeted universalism should help achieve important and long-lasting outcomes for a generation of young men who we will look to as leaders in our community for years to come."
The philanthropic dollars raised in support of the Department will be utilized over the next three years. With funding secured, the Department of AAMA will be conducting listening and learning sessions with students, families, and the broader community in the coming months. These conversations will set the foundation for development of a multi-year work plan, and bring coherence to the district and community’s efforts focused on the advancement and achievement of Black male students.
“It is critical that AAMA lives out the pledge ‘Nothing for us without us,’ by elevating the voices and experiences of our Kings, families, elders, and the Black community. Each voice needs to be a part of decision making,” said Dr. Mia Williams, AAMA’s Executive Director. “We will work tirelessly to co-create an education system that students rightfully deserve, and provide the supports and opportunities that students say they need to achieve their goals.”
“Understanding young Black men and boys’ unique strengths and challenges is essential in effectively educating Black students. We have a community-wide responsibility to support this important work,” said Dwane Chappelle, Department Director at the City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning and former Rainier Beach High School Principal. “The City is proud to partner with SPS and AAMA through our Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy investments.”
The Department of AAMA critically examines Seattle Public Schools' systemic practices through a racial equity lens to assess and build capacity for the system to better engage, empower and educate young Black male students. Through the AAMA program, educators, thought leaders, and students are directly addressing anti-Black institutional and structural racism by creating educational systems, structures, and spaces that advance success for all African American male students at SPS.
“We wholeheartedly support the AAMA in its efforts to disrupt the racist systems that limit the personal potential and success of our Black sons and brothers. This important work is everyone’s work. Together our community must develop a unified vision for our Black boys and young men that breaks down the current system and builds a new one that ensures that every student thrives,” said Michelle Merriweather, President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. “Our work won’t be complete until that vision is reality.”
Earlier this year the department launched the AAMA Student Leadership Council (SLC). SPS students serve on the SLC to help guide the department’s work, give meaningful input from their own perspectives, influence major district initiatives, and help hold the district accountable. Students have already been deeply engaged in responding to school building closures and in planning for next school year.
“AAMA has helped encourage me to speak the truth without hesitation, even if it makes someone uncomfortable to hear my truth. It made me more confident and more powerful in how I can help my school do better for other Black students. AAMA has helped me be more proud of my skin,” said Trevon Mitchell, rising 10th grader at Cleveland High School.
The Alliance for Education has an unwavering commitment to Seattle's students and educators. The organization will continue to engage stakeholders and the philanthropic community to advance educational justice and racial equity in Seattle Public Schools, and invites the community, families, and students to join in ongoing efforts to sustain and ensure the excellence of the Department of African American Male Achievement.
Learn more about the Department of African American Male Achievement at https://www.seattleschools.org/departments/aama.