Think Like a Girlpreneur: Empowering Black Female Collegiate Entrepreneurs

Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Time: 6 – 7:30 p.m. EST

Location: Virtual Via Webex

The Center for Educational Opportunity presents Think Like a Girlpreneur: Empowering Black Female Collegiate Entrepreneurs. Do you have an interest in entrepreneurship? Do you have a product or service that you want to pitch in 90 seconds? If so, this event is for you and includes prizes, networking, resources and mentors!

Register by March 1, 2022

Panelists are Precious L. Williams and Kezia M. Williams.

Precious L. Williams is a 13-time national elevator pitch champion. She has also been been featured on “Shark Tank,” CNN, WSJ, Forbes Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, Essence Magazine, the movie “LEAP.” Her current clients include Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google, eBay, and more!

Kezia M. Williams is the founder of The Black upStart – a national initiative to train African-American entrepreneurs. She has more than ten years experience training millennials to crowdfund grants benefiting small businesses. Currently, she leads United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) national entrepreneurship initiative. This program – funded by a $25 million grant – teaches African-American undergraduate and graduate scholarship recipients how to start successful and profitable businesses.

The program will be moderated by Dr. Kathaleena Edward Monds, professor of business, social entrepreneur and founding director of the Center for Educational Opportunity. Monds is also a graduate of two premiere entrepreneurship education programs, Babson’s Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators and Oklahoma State’s Experiential Entrepreneurship Program. She currently teaches a human-computing interaction course which engages undergraduates in innovative product ideation exercises.

*This program is funded by a mini-grant from Southeast Minority Business Development Agency Business Growth Hub.

Register here

This Homeschooling co-op gives Detroit families a choice amid crisis

This article was first published at Project Forever Free

During National School Choice Week, education advocates amplify the importance of giving parents access to the best K-12 education options for their children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

Among Black parents in the United States, homeschooling is a growing trend. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey the proportion of Black families homeschooling increased by five times, from 3.3% (April 23-May 5) to 16.1% in the fall (Sept 30-Oct 12). In many instances, the global COVID-19 crisis that shuttered schools was the catalyst. 

Such was the case for social entrepreneur and advocate Bernita Bradley, who in August 2020, formed Engaged Detroit, a homeschooling cooperative in response to COVID-19 school disruptions. The cooperative would grow to serve 32 Black families in Detroit.

“Children were tapping out … and we couldn’t wait for the school system to get it together,” said Bradley. Her own daughter, a high schooler frustrated by online learning, had threatened to drop out of high school and seek a GED. Bradley sprang into action to help her daughter, who is now a high-school graduate and college student, and in the process, helped a growing number of families and formed a supportive learning community.

What began as virtual pop-up opportunities on Facebook to share helpful resources with families struggling to keep their children engaged and learning evolved into a community of loosely-associated parents with a single goal to provide their children with quality educational opportunities in safe and culturally-affirming learning spaces.

We are trying to empower other parents to take control of their children’s education, to also take away some of the preconceived ideas about what education is supposed to look like, along with beginning to better understand and learn their children and their core desires and interests.

Eleanor*, an Engaged Detroit homeschool coach and parent.

The child-centered approach to learning resonated with many of the parents.

My motivation for homeschooling is really controlling the information that my daughter receives, as well as keeping up with her academic pace. I just never want to slow her down… It’s an individualized, tailored curriculum and that is what I prefer.

Jordan*, a homeschool dad.

My daughter is more of a visual learner, and she needs to have hands-on projects or project-based learning. It is better for her to see it in action to understand it. And sometimes, kids also need a little bit more time to spend on things … One of the things she told me she liked about homeschooling was that she gets a little bit more time like when math is a subject that is hard for her. She has the entire day to really understand the concept, maybe look up some videos to help her or ask additional questions. And then, she has a one-on-one tutor who sits in and really breaks everything down to her. I understand teachers don’t have that time, but some kids need that.

Zoey*, a homeschool mom.

According to Dr. Cheryl Fields Smith, a leading Black homeschool researcher, Black parents’ motivation to homeschool “evoke [bell] hooks’s (1990) notion of homeplace to argue that Black home education represents a vehicle of resistance to institutionalized racism and ideological mismatches between Black families and their children’s educational needs.”

Engaged Detroit set out to center childrens’ needs and provide parents with the tools to support them. Word-of-mouth spread quickly about what they were doing and the number of families who were interested soon multiplied. Bradley and her team helped families find curricula, navigate state laws regarding homeschooling, and provided “morale support” for parents. Through grants, and a network built over years of advocacy in her community, Bradley was able to get desks, supplies and printers donated to more than 300 children both within and outside of the homeschool network. 

The cooperative took on many characteristics of mutual aid societies of old and helped parents meet other exigencies as they arose, gathering resources that would help the families persist. This included partnering with more than 20 community partners to ensure that students had some aspects of a core curriculum. 

Among the partners were Brilliant Detroit, Detroit Area Pre-College of Engineering, Michigan State University Community School of Music for music classes from pre-K to seniors, and Detroit College Access Network to aid parents and students in understanding how to get their kids into college, to name a few. Black Scroll Collectiveprovided virtual tours centered around Black history. Online resources, including Outschool, provided extracurricular activities.

Parents who were interviewed reported discovering their children’s varying learning preferences, interests and aptitudes. Some found that even among their own children they had different types of learners. “That was a paradigm shift for some of the parents,” said Bradley, “because we had some parents who had their kids in three different schools.” 

Veritably, each parent reflected that their child experienced a new love for learning. 


“It is not just about my one kid, it is about all of our kids finding their joy and us helping them to curate that in the way they need to,” said coach *Lashawn. 

Children and parents experienced the myriad benefits of learning together. 

Parents are learning things about their children—how to homeschool effectively for their family and learning subject matter along the way, whether it’s having to refresh their skills so that they can teach it more effectively, or just in time as their children are learning to help them understand the information that they’re teaching.

*Eleanor, coach.

What’s been going well is the resources, communicating with other families, connecting with them, and learning from them.

Jessica*, an engaged parent.

The growing of confidence in these parents—that has been a huge increase, from being unsure if they even wanted to fully commit to homeschooling, many of them to the point where they’re not sure if they’re going to stop … That has been the biggest leap and indicator that this is going well, and then to hear them talk about their children thriving, their mood has improved, their relationship has improved, their desire to learn has increased, and their initiative to learn has begun to take place. Those are huge.

Eleanor,* coach.

While there were barriers experienced, including some parents doubting their efficacy and ability to teach their children, perceptions by some members in the community that they were not a bona fide homeschool collective and thereby ineligible for resources, Bradley and her team have persevered. Nearly all of the families interviewed said they would continue homeschooling even when schools reopened.


The phenomena of increasing Black home education represents a radical transformative act of self-determination, the likes of which have not been witnessed since the 1960s and 70s.”

During this critical inflection point in American K-12 education, Engaged Detroit has emerged as an exemplar among Black homeschool cooperatives. As the educational landscape continues to evolve, culture wars rage, achievement gaps widen and the education debt remains unpaid, homeschooling may emerge as a choice especially suited for Black families to exercise agency in ensuring that their children indeed have the best quality education that educates, empowers and inoculates them. Writes W.E.B. DuBois, “education must not simply teach work; it must teach life.” 

All parents may learn from the cooperative’s example and implement homeschooling best practices to supplement their own children’s learning.

“Our government is no better than the education we provide for its most marginalized communities. If schools won’t reimagine learning, parents will do it for their children,” Bradley said. 

To learn more, visit Engaged Detroit.

For more about homeschooling, read Homeschooling Black Children in the U.S. Theory, Practice, and Popular Culture.” 

*Interviews with parents and coaches who are a part of the Engaged Detroit Homeschool Cooperative were conducted as part of a research study. Interviewees’ names that appear with asterisks are pseudonyms.

Joy S. Jones serves as Outreach and Program Coordinator for the Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity. The Center’s mission is to advance educational research in order to strengthen and empower fragile communities from the bottom up.

This article was first published at Project Forever Free

Renown attorney and author Paul Penn-Nabrit rebuts call for ban on homeschooling

As a matter of policy, I try not to critique someone’s work without addressing said someone directly. Here are my posted comments about the recent article which centers your opinions about homeschooling. 

I never cease to be amazed by how the very word “homeschooling” seems to work as a “cease and desist” order of critical thinking. And nowhere is this adherence to absolutism and dogma more prevalent than in the U.S.  In the years since my last book on this topic was published, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League @2003, Random House, I have done book events and discussions in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Paris, and Singapore. Virtually all of them addressed and wrestled with the tension between the rights of the parent, the interests of the child and the rights of the State. Discussions were intense but rational and well-thought-out. They stood in  sharp contrast to similar discussions across the U.S. [I think our really scary and uncontrolled pandemic continues to be shedding stupidity!] 

But more than emotive responses, here are my thoughts about this article and the ideology driving the conflict it generates. On the one hand, institutionalized education, whether public, private, parochial or charter is rife with structural supports for systems of white supremacy that are internalized in pedagogy, policy, and curriculum development. The school-to-prison pipeline and the so-called “achievement gap” are but two areas where quantitative support of that premise is readily available for analysis. Equally disturbing is the mythological ideal of parents as perfected educators. Just as there are good teachers and bad teachers, there are good parents and bad parents. The biological or adoptive reality of parenting does not magically bestow a disciplined willingness to educate a child any more than buying or being gifted a piano bestows the disciplined willingness to practice and learn to play it well. Currently, one of my biggest concerns in the midst of this pandemic is what I am sadly certain will be a sharp uptick in domestic violence, and yeah, a bunch of it will be directed to children and many of the perpetrators will be their parents…some of whom will justify it. and happily post videos on various social media platforms.                            

So, I am hard-pressed to draft a clear rebuttal to this sophomoric article that seems clearly written and titled for maximum outrage, i.e.  “ways to monetize controversial ideologies.” An absolute ban on homeschooling is not tenable nor can it be balanced by the state’s vested interest in an educated citizenry and there are several U.S. Supreme Court cases that speak to this.                                                                                                

Example #1: SCOTUS’  1972 unanimous opinion in Wisconsin v. Yoder, “The Court held that individual’s interests in the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment outweighed the State’s interests in compelling school attendance beyond the eighth grade. In the majority opinion by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, the Court found that the values and programs of secondary school were ‘in sharp conflict with the fundamental mode of life mandated by the Amish religion,’ and that an additional one or two years of high school would not produce the benefits of public education cited by Wisconsin to justify the law.”                                                                        

And for maximum outrage at the hypocrisy of this article, I’m looking at San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez..  “The Court refused to examine the system with strict scrutiny since there is no fundamental right to education in the Constitution and since the system did not systematically discriminate against all poor people in Texas. Given the similarities between Texas’ system and those in other states, it was clear to the Court that the funding scheme was not ‘so irrational as to be invidiously discriminatory.’ Justice Powell argued that on the question of wealth and education, ‘the Equal Protection Clause does not require absolute equality or precisely equal advantages.’ “

Yes…there’s NO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO EDUCATION  in the U.S. Constitution and NO, this 1972 decision has not been overturned. Ergo, the question should be, if there is no constitutionally declared fundamental right to education, how can a state assert standing to procure it or protest how it is provided?  Further, if the cited authority, Elizabeth Bartholet, was genuinely concerned with access to all the benefits of institutionalized education for all students, she would be directing her energy to de-coupling property tax revenue from school funding, thereby creating an equitable economic base to provide said benefits.                            

Elizabeth Bartholet received her JD from Harvard Law School in 1965 so she was fully grown when both Yoder and Rodriguez were decided. I don’t know what her deal is here, but the kindest thing I can say is it seems disingenuous. My historically-based and admittedly more sinister hypothesis is this move to regulate homeschooling is directly linked to the rise of Black families as the fastest-growing demographic cohort of homeschoolers in the nation.

Ms. Bartholet, in conclusion, please feel free to contact me if you think I have misunderstood your intention or my analysis has missed the mark.


Paula Penn-Nabrit

Editor’s note:

Attorney Paula Penn-Nabrit’s rebuttal was made in response to the following article:

Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection

About the author

A 1972 graduate of Columbus School for Girls, Paula Penn-Nabrit completed her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College, Class of 1976, honored as Student Senate President and a Wellesley-Washington Intern in Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s office. She married Charles Nabrit in 1976 and earned her law degree from The Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University with a set of 13-month old twins and the Order of the Barrister in 1981. Two years later, after the birth of their 3rd son, she worked on AT&T’s divestiture project until she launched PN&A, Inc., in 1986, a family-run demographic research and organizational development firm, currently 15 years into its 2nd generation.

Paula has presented various papers including A Comparative Analysis of Value Conflicts in Diverse Professions, University of Oxford; The Significance of Intent in Declaring a Violation of IRC 482: Ethical Analysis of U.S. Transfer Tax, University of Florida; and The Impact of Color on International Business and Public Service: The Global Phenomenon of Herrenvolk, University of Siena. She has also authored several books, most notably Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League, Random House@2003.

Along with her eldest sons, Paula continues to run PN&A, Inc. as well as The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden, a small, biodiverse and organic, 5K sq. ft. space sited in the rear of The Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith, home to a congregation formed 110 years ago by descendants of formerly enslaved Africans in America. Her sons are 5th generation congregants. The USDA Economic Research Service identifies the zip code as a low income/low access urban food desert (Paula says urban food apartheid) so the produce is sold for $1.00 a pound at their onsite Farmer’s Market.