Building A Pipeline of HBCU Scholars Helps to Decolonize Research

“Decolonizing research is a process of conducting research with Indigenous communities that places Indigenous voices and epistemologies in the center of the research process (Battiste, 2000; Smith, 1999).” Researchers from Thurgood Marshall College Fund and United Negro College Fund institutions are invited to help frame the world differently via K-12 action research. Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity is offering a free professional development opportunity with noted scholar and researcher, Dr. Fred Bonner, II.

Bonner is Professor and Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership and Counseling and Founding Executive Director and Chief Scientist of the Minority Achievement, Creativity and High-Ability (MACH-III) Center at Prairie View A&M University. The full-day professional development workshop is co-sponsored by Prairie View MACH-III. Registration is limited to 30 participants and is offered at no cost to participants. Register here. 

Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity Awards Research Grants

With generous support from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Center for Advancing Opportunity, Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity has selected its 2020-2021 grantees. Projects selected for research funding include:

Dr. Sheila Gregory, Clark Atlanta University (Educational Model)

Identify strategies to provide improved access for LGBTQIAP students of color, while providing multiple activities for students, parents, teachers, counselors and community in positive and nurturing educational environments to garner greater learning outcomes and well being. The research project will span more than four Atlanta area school districts and five HBCUs.

Dr. Leah Hollis, Morgan State University (Educational Opportunity)

Study is designed to give voice to students who are affected by the abrupt change to online learning. Their insights and experiences can, in turn, inform school district administrators on what strategieswere successful for students and what strategies failed to bridge the gap for students who potentially have limited resources to engage online learning. The central research question is: How do students of color in a suburban community adjust to online learning during a disruptive disaster? To answer the research question, the principal investigator (PI) will interview a group of 11th and 12th grade students enrolled during the 2019-2020 academic year in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who experienced educational instruction disruption when schools were shuttered due to COVID-19.

Dr. Andrea Lewis, Spelman College (Educational Access)

Research seeks to explore how racial identity, agency and exposure to culturally-relevant school practices defines the experiences of Black elementary school girls attending school in predominantly White communities. Most literature on Black girls within school settings focuses on the criminalization, discipline and hypersexualism of middle and high school girls. Though the experiences of middle and high schools girls are important and impact adolescence, this study seeks to learn the elementary school experiences of Black girls, especially those in majority schools and the impact it has on future learning and identity.

Dr. Megan Lyons, North Carolina Central University (Educational Opportunity)

Students from fragile communities are much more likely to experience traumatic events when compared to their non-economically disadvantaged counterparts. Consequently, this can cause them to have poor peer interactions and lead to classroom disruptions and increased discipline referrals. Additionally, often parents in fragile communities often work long hours which also can limit their involvement with their child’s school. From this research, the goal is to determine which skills will best equip parents in fragile communities in meeting their child’s social emotional needs. Targeting African American and Hispanic families, the goal is to better meet the needs of the whole child, thereby honing academic and social emotional skills.

Dr. Felicia Mayfield, Clark Atlanta University (Educational Innovation)

There is a significantly low rate of male teachers of less than 2% of the teaching population. Clark Atlanta University is committed to changing the narrative in its school community. After conducting preliminary research, there was a need for the collection of additional data for creating models that encourage males of color to continue their pursuit of education as a career choice.

Dr. Nicole Taylor, Spelman College (Educational Innovation)

An area within education that has sustained attention over the last few years is family and community engagement. This is due to a number of factors including current legislation (i.e., Every Student Succeeds Act) that points to the importance of partnering with families and communities to strengthen children’s educational skills and experiences. Study will address the need to engage and accommodate families in their student’s learning experiences. The population of focus will be (majority) African American families with elementary students enrolled in Title I schools.

Ms. Lisa Puga, Rutgers University (Educational Access)

Many critiques of homeschooling focus upon the ways that homeschooling perpetuates inequalities in the public system, and the material/cultural privilege that is required in order to homeschool. Additionally, homeschooling is seen as a “cocooning” practice, where children are shielded from religious or philosophical differences and are explicitly taught of the dangers in secular society. This stereotype about homeschoolers is truly made absurd when acknowledging many black families’ narratives who faced grave discrimination, explicit racist interactions, or problematic stereotypes within the school system. Study will examine the complex portrait of urban homeschooling.

Winning proposals were selected based on the research plan, impact on removing barriers to high-quality education, and potential of improving K-12 education. At the close of the grant cycle, research findings will be shared via conferences and symposia, peer-reviewed publications, symposia, and websites.

About Us

The Center for Educational Opportunity was established on April 13, 2018. As a research center, our aim is to support outcomes-based, impact research with a focus on four pillars: educational opportunity, educational models, educational innovations and educational access. Our mission is the advance educational research in order to strengthen and empower fragile communities from the bottom up.



Researcher Evaluates Teach for America Retention Efforts in Fragile Communities

Teach for America (TFA) has long-sought to improve schools and educational outcomes in fragile communities. However, the organization has struggled to attract and to retain teaching candidates to these communities. Especially in the rural south, TFA participation rates are low, while teacher burnout and exit rates are high with some regions seeing entire cohorts leave after their two year commitment is complete. 

TFA implemented a new program at the 2019 Teach For America corps who were trained at Teach For America’s Greater Delta Institute and adopted new practices designed to foster greater personal commitment and love for rural communities. 

TFA hopes to catalyze partnerships and sustainable, bottom-up efforts that address the community’s needs. Research will evaluate the efficacy of the new community immersion program through a randomized control trial.

The Center for Educational Opportunity has funded Albert Cheng, Ph.D. who will evaluate the efficacy of the new community immersion program through a randomized control trial.

Methods that improve teacher retention among the Teach for America corps, will provide much-needed continuity of learning for students.

Morehouse College Professor Pilots Life Success Readiness Curriculum for High-Risk Populations

Systemic economic deprivation in black and brown communities is rampant in America. Breaking the cycle requires collective societal focus and action. Dr. Belinda Johnson White, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Leadership, Morehouse College; Atlanta, Georgia, believes that targeted educational interventions play a crucial and critical role in addressing economic scarcity issues in minority communities. White’s successful work of more than 27 years teaching leadership skills, self-efficacy and life success skills at Morehouse College, demonstrates the power of formal life-skills educational intervention to the success of black and brown lives. 

Using the leadership development model created through her teaching and research, White is building a holistic life success curriculum targeted to middle and high school students (6th – 12th grade boys and girls) in fragile communities in urban and rural populations. The curriculum goal is to assist young learners in developing and practicing personal leadership and professionalism skills in order to form habits of excellence that will lead to life-long success through economic stability and growth, self-sufficiency, entrepreneurial mindset, and generational wealth. 

The Center for Educational Opportunity has funded the Phase 1 pilot curriculum. It was launched in October 2019 through the ASPIRE (Amazing Students Putting in Resilient Effort) Program at Alabama State University (ASU), Montgomery, Alabama, where Cynthia Handy serves as director. ASPIRE is an after-school enrichment program located on the campus of Alabama State University. ASPIRE partners with Montgomery Public Schools to encourage students to stay in school, foster college-preparatory academic success, and promote positive social development.

“The beauty of Dr. White’s model is the holistic approach to personal development—a life experience based on spiritual, physical, social, emotional, academic and financial well-being,” said Handy.