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Village of Wisdom secures $4 million grant

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Village of Wisdom is a nonprofit in Durham founded and led by Chief Dreamer and Executive Director Dr. William P. Jackson that works with Black families to protect Black Genius.

According to their website, the mission of Village of Wisdom is to “close the academic opportunity gap by protecting the intellectual curiosity and positive racial self-concept of Black children through the love and wisdom of their families and communities.”

Jackson was featured on PBS Newshour in 2021.

Village of Wisdom’s That’s Just Good Teaching (TJGT) Program was recently awarded a $4 million Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant by the U.S. Department of Education, according to this press release by Village of Wisdom and this press release by the U.S. Department of Education.

For those of us who have been watching the leadership of Jackson and Village of Wisdom unfold since 2014, this is really wonderful news, affirming the inspirational, dedicated work they are doing to protect Black Genius.

The Black Genius framework includes six elements: interest awareness, can-do attitude, racial identity, multicultural navigation, selective trust, and social justice.

What is the grant for?

The grant will support a five-year initiative designed to enhance social-emotional and academic outcomes for students by harnessing the power of parent-teacher partnerships, according to the Village of Wisdom press release.

“This grant gives us the opportunity to equitably support the real heroes:
educators and Black parents.”

Arssante Malone, director of instructional liberation,
Village of Wisdom

“The Department of Education funding allows Village of Wisdom to center Black parent wisdom as integral in strengthening home-school partnerships and creating learning environments for students to thrive,” said Dr. Dawn X Henderson, the director of participatory research and power building at Village of Wisdom.

As the nation’s first program of its kind, the TJGT program fosters collaboration between teachers and parents by training them to develop culturally affirming learning strategies and digital resources tailored to students’ social-emotional and academic needs.

The program includes teacher professional development in culturally affirming learning, parent-teacher residencies, community-driven assessments, and participant stipends to improve social-emotional and academic outcomes for high-need students.

“This grant gives us the opportunity to equitably support the real heroes: educators and Black parents. For decades, they have been pitted against one another, all the while our children, Black children, walk away improperly prepared to navigate a world that has yet to fully embrace and acknowledge not only their genius but their humanity,” said Arssante Malone, director of instructional liberation at Village of Wisdom.

The program supports evidence-based innovations designed to improve academic achievement for high-need students. Village of Wisdom’s TJGT Program was one of 17 early-phase competition grantees awarded under Absolute Priority 4, prioritizing innovations that meet students’ social, emotional, and academic needs, according to the Village of Wisdom press release.

The $4 million EIR grant will cover 83% of program costs. The remaining $800,000, or 17%, will be raised over the five-year duration of the program.

The TJGT Program embodies Village of Wisdom’s core mission to provide Black children with the learning spaces they deserve and need to thrive. The program follows the leadership of Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings to put Black parents in the validation process of teachers. Dr. Ladson-Billings authored the seminal paper on culturally relevant pedagogy nearly 30 years ago.

By incorporating culturally relevant pedagogy into standards-based practices in partnership with parents and communities, the TJGT Program is designed to serve as a model for reimagining education for students nationwide.

“Recognizing the need for evidence-based practices that acknowledge the genius of Black students, Village of Wisdom has spent the better part of a decade working with parents to create solutions,” said Jackson. “Black children deserve research that quantifies the impact of instructional strategies centered around their cultural and intellectual genius. Securing this grant is a testament to the power of fully committing to the genius of our children, our people, and our community. We plan to ride that commitment all the way to liberation.”

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.