About Black And Belonging
The Black and Belonging collaborative is a close-knit network of award-winning and equity-focused scholars, educators, administrators, and youth leaders. Our mission is to disrupt structural aspects of school environments that leave marginalized students vulnerable to anxieties about belonging. We build with educators. We amplify the voices of young people. We create opportunities for all students to feel that their educational experiences are being structured especially for them.
Our customized workshops, consultations, evaluation measures, and mentoring opportunities cultivate a sense of leadership, agency, voice, and self-expression among youth from culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse backgrounds. At its heart, Black and Belonging is about collaborating with communally-oriented people who are ready to “unschool” school, making educational spaces places where young people want to be and want to learn.
Fostering and Assessing Opportunities to Belong: Our Unconventional Approach
Black and Belonging was born in research, and grown through the development of next-level resources that can be used to assess and transform belonging within today’s learning environments. Our engaged approach not only illuminates the path towards belonging, but also helps educators to document their institutional wisdom, so that enriched practices can become permanent cornerstones within their schools and communities. Our vision is that the coalitions and partnerships we create will make an impact that extends far beyond the classroom. Together, we can honor and support the young creatives who will forge the racial uplift, social progress, community liberation, and cultural affirmation of tomorrow.
A Platform for Youth Voice and Agency
Black and Belonging casts a spotlight on youth voices, creating space for them to be involved in ground-up transformation of their own educational process. If there’s one thing our research has taught us, it is how powerful a resource cultural expression can be. We are committed to supporting our youth in fostering critical consciousness, collective impact, connectedness, communication skills, and community through Black and Belonging-supported programs.
The Black and Belonging Lapel Pin Initiative is an example of our efforts to foster youth voice, agency, and creativity. Our young people develop their skills and vision through supported deep-dive research and artwork creation, with a focus on calling attention to societal injustices facing people of the African diaspora. They then share their designs to create social awareness while raising money for causes they believe in. In serving their community, serving humanity, and serving one another, bright young minds discover how to simultaneously and constructively serve themselves.
“I wish I could say that holding conversations about addressing students’ belonging is simple and straightforward. It’s difficult, it’s touchy, it’s uncomfortable, yet it is necessary. Even educators who are deeply committed to social justice don’t all agree on how to structure equitable learning environments. This is why Black and Belonging works diligently to establish and maintain deep, long-lasting relationships with educators and youth leaders. Our custom-built school initiatives emanate from meaningful, vulnerable conversations. We create space for our partners to hear one another, respectfully disagree, and make productive strides forward. And we don’t simply make decisions about how schools should be structured for youth. We make decisions with youth, and support them in advocating for how the schools of tomorrow should look and feel.”