Black Homeschooling Is A Choice

By: Jamilah Hawkins

In some circles, homeschooling has been controversial in the black community due to the hardships African-Americans faced who fought for equal educational opportunities. Brown v. Board of Education was passed in 1954 to enforce the integration of public schools for Black and Brown students and their White counterparts. Many Black family members and education activists fought long and hard for those rights. However, nowadays there is a rise in the numbers of Black parents who are choosing to homeschool as a way to protect and do what they believe is best for their children.

Paula Penn-Nabrit, an African American scholar and writer who homeschooled her children in the 1990s, experienced this situation firsthand and addressed her reasonings for choosing homeschool. “A lot of people felt that because my family was intimately involved in the effort to integrate schools, that for me to pull my children out of schools was a betrayal of all that work,” she said. “But it really wasn’t. The case had nothing to do with what I, as a parent, decide I want for my child. That decision meant the state can’t decide to give me less than, but I can decide I want more than” (Huseman, 2015).

Since the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 until today in 2020, we are still experiencing racial disparities in education. Homeschooling has become an outlet for Black families to take a stand for their children and express their liberation and choice. For some families, homeschooling is a protest against the oppressive, marginalizing, and devaluing behavior that Black families have experienced in public school systems. Black neighborhood schools are disproportionately underfunded and curriculums overwhelmingly lack cultural and historical representation.

One of the hallmarks of Black homeschooling is that African American parents are implementing Afro-centric curriculums that teach their children about the historical contributions of Black people. This affirms them and helps to build a strong foundation that promotes confidence and self-esteem.

There are several ways that African-Americans enter the homeschooling space — either via homeschooling or unschooling. Homeschooling often refers to the act of making the decision to educate their children prior to attending public, private, or charter schools.  Unschooling is the act of taking their children out of an educational institution not meeting their child’s needs and having to rethink and redefine school on their own terms.  In addition, there are several strategies for conducting homeschooling – via co-ops or microschools.  Both co-ops and microschools value the importance of community and collaboration in which parents contribute their skills to providing lessons, classes, extracurricular services to the children and families involved.

In light of the inequities that were laid bare by COVID-19 school shutdowns, more and more Black families say that they intend to continue homeschooling. In fact, Dr. Cheryl Fields-Smith, co-founder of  Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars says she’s seen a dramatic increase in homeschooling inquiries due to COVID-19. 

In my opinion, it is simply time to stop fighting for the system, and we surely should not still be fighting with the system. This is not to say that those who advocated for integration of schools were wrong for fighting for inclusion, but if decades have gone by and racial injustices persist to the detriment of Black students, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and write a new game plan.

There should be no condemnation towards Black parents who choose to homeschool their children. Homeschooling may well be a way to put an end to the massive achievement gap and institutionalized discrimination and racism that festers in public education institutions. Yes, the fight continues to this day, but Black parents who choose to homeschool are winning this battle in their own way.

Jamilah Hawkins is an education major at Albany State University. She is a 2020 research intern at the Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity.

Lessons Learned From Telecommuting

This article appeared in the March 26, 2020 Society for Human Resources Management Newsletter

​I am not a human resources professional. But after only a few days in my role as director of a small research team at a public university, I began to put on my HR management thinking cap to better understand how organizations measure human capital and what value individuals really bring to their organizations.

As at many universities across the nation, our faculty and staff have been required to telecommute to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, and each employee on my team was required to complete a telecommuting agreement.

I soon wondered, “How productive are our employees working remotely?” One strategy that I deployed, while hoping not to be considered micromanaging, was to ask my team to send a daily, bulleted list of SMART (strategic, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) outcomes, akin to SMART goals. Doing so helped them see their own productivity in black and white, and it helped me see who was delivering outcomes and who was falling short.

The coronavirus struck during annual evaluations, when employees are asked to complete portfolios and self-assessments. As a former chair, an interim dean and now a director, I must admit that the most challenging part of the job has always been the responsibility of sharing with a faculty member how he or she “needs improvement” in some areas while “exceeding expectations” in others.

Most employees think they are better than they actually are, and most employers have underestimated the brand of talent their organizations need to move from good to great. Jim Collins writes in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t (HarperBusiness, 2001) about the importance of getting the right people in the organization at the start. If organizations don’t, then being successful will be a challenge.

To that end, I immediately began to think of the questions I will pose to my staff during evaluations, as well as those I will answer myself. The COVID-19 telecommuting requirements have helped me to rethink who is on my team, what professional development they need, and how the absence and presence of skills found in my collective staff can either be wasted or strengthened as we telecommute.

Post-COVID-19, some employees may stay while others may not. Many factors may play a role in that decision—economic, social, political, etc.—but the most important factor is an assessment of the value that people bring.

My 92-year-old mother was a domestic worker who cleaned the homes of wealthy families during my entire childhood. She barely made minimum wage and was often called to work on weekends for special events and parties held by those wealthy families. My mother never called in sick and never missed a day of work because of winter storms. She took the bus from Detroit to the suburbs of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and never let her personal life interfere with her professional life.

What my mother did, for which I am forever grateful, was lead by example. She worked hard, no matter how much she earned. Her paycheck did not dictate the effort she put into her job. She used what she earned to raise a family, always had a rainy-day fund and never complained about her financial situation. It was clear that the value she provided was essential, as in her absence the wealthy families were often simply at a loss.

During this time, employers and employees alike must make difficult choices. Here are a few questions to consider:

What value do you add to the organization? Such value is measured by real outcomes (intellectual or tangible) compared to assumed outcomes (e.g., busywork or paper shuffling).
What skills and talents do you bring that no one else could render to the organization? Yes, several people possess many of the same skills, but what skills and talents do you have that are tightly aligned with the mission and vision of your organization?

If you are removed from your current position today, will the organization be at a loss without you?
What are some of the insights you’re finding related to human capital and productivity at your workplace? I’d like to hear from you.

Kathaleena Edward Monds, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Center for Educational Opportunity at Albany State University, a public historically black college and university in Albany, Ga.

Center for Educational Opportunity Releases White Paper of Teacher-Leader Narratives from Fragile Communities

The Center for Educational Opportunity (CEO) has released a white paper titled, A Sacred Space: 12 Expert Teachers Share Stories of Resilience, Success and Leadership from the Vantage Point of Fragile Communities. The white paper is a collection of teacher-leader narratives from the lens of fragile, underserved communities spanning, urban, rural and tribal settings.

The CEO sought the expertise of Katherine Bassett, founder of Tall Poppy, LLC, a company devoted to the training of education leaders and standards revision/development; and of Research and Assessment Design Solutions, an organization focused on solutions to assess social and emotional skills. She is the former President and CEO of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. Bassett curated stories ensuring diversity of race/ethnicity, gender, school setting, developmental level of students taught, number of years teaching experience and diversity of experiences.

Included are 12 case studies grouped thematically under Training and Offering Ongoing Support to Educators; Education Beyond the Classroom and Advancing Social and Emotional Learning. Each contributor provided an introduction, challenges, solutions, outcomes and lessons for educators

“We believe that these teacher-leaders’ proximity to students and families can help us find connections between research and practice,” said CEO Founding Director Dr. Kathaleena Monds.

The white paper calls for “a community-based approach involving innovative strategies, fluid planning and decision making, a multifaceted support system, and most importantly, teacher leaders willing to be boundary spanners and seek innovative strategies in the pursuit of change,” stated Katherine Bassett.

Click here to download.

Center for Educational Opportunity Seeks Post Doctorate Research Fellow

If you are looking for a post doctoral career opportunity, the Center for Educational Opportunity is looking for you! The Center for Educational Opportunity (CEO), via a grant from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Center for Advancing Opportunity, seeks to hire a Limited Term Assistant Professor/Post Doctorate Research Fellow. The successful candidate may teach two classes during the academic year, coordinate research with Director of the CEO and provide service support to the CEO, among other duties. For more information, contact or APPLY HERE.

During COVID-19 Crisis School Closures Affect Everyone

Albany, Dougherty County, Georgia, located in the Southwest region of the state, is home to 90,000 citizens. Despite its population, per capita, the city has been profoundly affected by the coronavirusThe county has the highest number of incidents statewide. As a result, citizens have been told to shelter in place. The disruption of  life as we know it has been absolute. 

The education sector accounts for many jobs in the region and school closures nearly touch everyone. Albany State University has an enrollment of 6,001with 2,844 employees. Dougherty County has a total of 13 schools with 14,549 students enrolled in the public school system and over 1,000 employees. Albany Technical College has an enrollment of 3,640 students with 142 employees. Turner Job Corps Center serves 732 students and 300 employees.

All University System of Georgia schools, including Albany State University, have been closed and a number of employees are currently working under telecommute agreements. Classes, which began March 30th, have been placed online for the remaining of the semester. Faculty and staff members are not to return to campus until further notice. Students were given dates to remove their personal belongings from all dormitories. 

While school officials from K-12 and higher education have painstakingly sought ways to assist students, parents and employees as they move from face-to-face instruction to a digital modality, sending home packets of work and troubleshooting distance learning and telework plans, one can only imagine the long-lasting effect on students and families who were already in survival mode before this crisis.

Many students do not have computers in their homes. In rural counties, access to broadband internet is limitedThe Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative has worked to identify areas without broadband to assist with broadband planning efforts, mapping by county households and businesses served and unserved.

“With Georgia’s schools closed through April 24, students who lack internet access are at risk of falling behind,” said Dr. Caitlin Dooley, Georgia Department of Education Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning in a recent Georgia Public Broadcasting interview. “One of the biggest challenges coming to light during the pandemic is the internet connectivity barriers facing rural areas of the state. Internet connectivity for Georgia’s students and teachers is more important than ever.”

Given the reliance most families place on public education to teach their children, many of them feel overwhelmed and challenged to teach their children at home, even with technology tools at their disposal. Clearly, children who were already experiencing an educational achievement gap will be even more impacted by the loss of classroom instruction time and the “homework gap” created by distance learning.

Beyond instruction, school rooms are an essential part of the safety net for many poor children who receive free and reduced lunch and other social benefits. In Dougherty County, 60 percent of all students receive free lunch and 9 percent of  Dougherty County SchoolSystem pay $.40 per day for lunch. School closures affect fragile families more than any of us could ever know.

While the government decides what types of financial aid each American receives, now is the time that we must all pull together, even while practicing “social distance,” to aid our neighbors who may be in need. Albany, Dougherty County has experienced crises before, during the devastation of Hurricane Michael and the 100-year flood of 1994, both of which have left indelible marks. Like then, this is our collective battle to wage and win.

‘Don’t tell my mom I told you our lights are off:’ Uncovering the Experiences of Intergenerational Poverty on Children

“Poverty has an oversized footprint in rural Georgia,” according to the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education “Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2020;” and rural low-income families and children are carrying the weight of poverty with them into the classrooms. 

Children’s self identity and esteem is being molded by poverty conditions. 

Young people growing up in poor communities are generally alert to inequalities and injustices and to their own disadvantaged situations (Chapter 11 by Gillian Mann; Bissell 2009; Canfield 2010; or Witter). Research indicates that children perceive inequalities as indicative of wider differences in power and position. Moreover, children’s sense of agency and self efficacy, comparisons to their peers and ways of coping and adapting to the condition of being poor impacts their self identity, health, school performance and aspirations. They take on roles and responsibilities for managing hardship and risk related to their impoverished living conditions. 

Measures of self-efficacy, a sense of inclusion, self-esteem and educational aspirations all correlate with measures of the material well-being of the family in which they are growing up. These circumstances shape these wider dimensions of child well-being that ultimately affect them as adults and shape their future socio- economic status.

Mitigating poverty is a social and moral imperative. 

In a 2015 article by Rosenbaum and Blum entitled “How Healthy Are Our Children?,” the researchers denote that “the best way to promote children’s health today is to mitigate poverty, invest in education, and make our neighborhoods and communities healthier and safer.” (Rosenbaum & Blum, 2015).  They further believe that “poor health is disproportionately associated with poverty, as well as with minority status and residence in single parent households, the same households that are most likely to face deep and entrenched poverty.”

Social, emotional challenges of being poor are evident in the early learning years and such challenges manifest later in their K-12 experiences and beyond into adulthood. In other words, children as young as 1 to 3 years old who are met with social, economic, and health challenges will, in turn, be met with language challenges that further stunts their educational opportunities.  According to Sharkins, Leger and Ernest, “young children living in economically disadvantaged environments often begin school with fewer basic academic and social–emotional skills” (2016). 

Most children who suffer from poverty struggle with their academics as well. “These children are more likely to experience multiple family transitions, move frequently, and change schools. The schools they attend are less well funded, and the neighborhoods they live in are more disadvantaged” (Wagmiller & Adelman, 2009). The parents of these children have fewer resources to invest in their education, and are often occupied with survival: providing housing and food for their children. 

Geography is destiny for many children in poverty.

Upon examining the geography of opportunity, one can readily see evidence of concentrated disadvantages of poverty by zip code from the cradle to the grave covering housing, healthcare, quality early childhood education, ecological and environmental factors, food desserts, absence of public goods, living wage jobs, high rates of in-school discipline, expulsion and incarceration, transportation to elder care. In short, geography is destiny.

Thus, our concern must reach beyond test performance and grades. Empathy, kindness, peacefulness, responsibility, self-control, and perseverance are a few social, emotional traits demonstrated by students in K-12 learning environments. However, when you factor in poverty, such emotions and the ability to socialize may be compromised and compounded.  Teachers and parents alike must provide the support needed to help students handle the challenges of poverty. “Children who do not learn how to self-regulate their behaviors to respond appropriately to others’ needs and demands and to navigate the slippery slope of transitions will likely fall behind in school and struggle throughout their lives.” (Buckley, 2015).

We should be very concerned that Dougherty County; Georgia has five schools on the GOSA Chronically Failing Schools list: Morningside Elementary School, Alice Coachman Elementary School, Northside Elementary School and Turner Elementary — concerned to the point of collective action.

Broaden focus of child poverty.

“Evidence argues for broadening the focus of child poverty reduction to include the psychosocial costs of lacking the culturally specific resources required for full participation in society.” (Crivello, Camfield & Porter 2010). Maslow‘s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory that proposes three levels of needs desired for humans. It states that basic needs (physiological and safety), psychological needs (esteem, belongingness and love), and self fulfillment needs exist one at a time, in that order. This was later proven to hold error in that our esteem and self efficacy is not dependent on if our physiological needs are met. In like manner, we must help children to reach their full potential even if other needs are not met. Without doing so, we risk an enormous loss of human capital as we see a “failure to thrive” in multiple generations mired in poverty. Therefore, teachers, schools and communities must take a multistakeholder approach in finding solutions that inure to the benefit of us all. 

Only a multistakeholder approach stands a chance at changing current conditions.

This is a clarion call for parents, teachers, healthcare providers, business and industry, multi-faith community, researchers and policymakers to make evidence-based decisions and take action now to reduce the barriers caused by wealth-related inequality. R WEUIOP[]Pesearch shows that high ability poor students eventually show learning gaps when compared to peers from higher income households.

Positive reinforcement encourages children to continuously display good behavior for great rewards. School extracurricular activities teach discipline, reward work and self confidence. The arts, extramural sports, volunteer groups and student government, alongside after school programs have a positive effect. Children thrive in environments that support their ability to excel in their ambitions and what is in their power to control.

The Center for Educational Opportunity at Albany State University mission is  to advance educational research in order to strengthen and empower fragile communities, from the bottom-up. Center for Educational Opportunity staff contributed to this opinion. 

Nation’s Report Card Assesses America’s Educational Legacy: Achievement Gaps Still Exist

The 2019 “Nation’s Report Card” was issued today based on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) findings that share how America’s children are performing in school according to two measures — 4th grade reading and 8th grade math proficiency. 

However, I invite us all to take a step back and ask a few critical questions: What is education for? What are the children reading? What math are they doing?

Since 2017 they found:

  • Higher average scores in grade 4 mathematics
  • Lower average scores in grade 8 mathematics
  • Lower average reading scores at both grades

Essentially the report culled data from 294,000 students from across the nation’s states and school districts. The researchers propose that their findings are predictors of how 4th graders will do in life and whether 8th grade students are poised for high school and college-level achievement.

I often think of math in terms of its day-to-day use. My most memorable recollections of “math” were what I learned selling Girl Scout Cookies and making change at a lemonade stand. For a child interested in sports, math might be understood in terms of the batting percentage of their baseball hero. While measuring math achievement, can the adolescent calculate a 10% off sale at a local retail store? I want to know how many are saving.

As it relates to reading, I question what texts school districts have adopted for 4th- grade reading. As an adult, I am an avid reader. If the first few pages of a book do not capture my attention, however, I will quickly put it down. On the contrary, if it’s a page turner, I won’t stop until I reach the end. Children in school don’t have that option.

Most textbook publishers contract with state departments of education to supply textbooks that are then assigned to entire school districts. What is in the hands of these 4th- grade students who are not reading well? Do they see themselves in the pages and examples from which they’re expected to read for comprehension, compose their thoughts and develop critical thinking skills?

In short, what are the other ways to measure 4th-grade reading and 8th-grade math proficiency?

What really fails when measuring data of children’s performance in school in aggregate in reports such as this is that you’re looking at points, not people, and children in fragile communities are falling through the cracks in large numbers in schools where families do not have educational choice. These are the children most likely feeding what has become known as the “school to prison pipeline.” In spite of great pronouncements, many children are being left behind and all are not succeeding.

Every child in every school in America should have access to educational opportunity. Yet, 65 years later, the promise of the Brown v Board has not been realized. Schools are becoming increasingly segregated.

Geography continues to equal destiny and the achievement gap continues to widen, leaving rural county students lagging behind their urban school peers; and black, brown and poor children far behind their white peers. Social capital remains largely unequally distributed. Economic and mobility factors often proscribe families to poor performing neighborhood schools for their children’s education at great peril to their futures. This often becomes a generational cycle, not easily broken.

To address poor school performance, we must look at the educational ecosystem, beginning with how schools are funded based on property values which almost always is a factor of parents’ race, education and income, factors so inextricably interwoven in the fabric of our very constitution that it would be dim to try to consider them as distinct. The legacy issues of education in America still endure. 

Students are not made smarter by having a seat next to a white child in their classrooms. It is the access to opportunity provided in one’s family of origin and the breaks and barriers that a child must navigate by the time they enter the pre-K classroom that make all the difference.

Kathaleena Edward Monds, PhD is the founding director of the Center for Educational Opportunity at Albany State University – a Historically Black College and University.

A Nation of Homeschoolers: Families Show Promise in Educating Their Kids at Home During COVID 19

By: Kathaleena Edward Monds

COVID-19 has brought many families to the kitchen table with parents and siblings helping each other complete assignments that were sent home by their local schools. Though this is an unprecedented situation, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With the opportunity to embrace education as a family responsibility, parents can rise to the occasion.

Shonda Rhimes, creator of hit ABC shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, added levity to the situation with a tweet on Monday writing, “Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.” 

Perhaps teacher pay will be up for discussion once this passes, but for now, the buck stops at home as parents are solely “involved” as teachers. Parents’ ability to educate their own children will also be up for discussion as schools begin more robust teacher-parent partnerships based on how parents are able to ‘step up to the plate’.

School choice supporters have long recognized the importance of ‘bottom-up’ vs. ‘top-down’ educational strategies that work to benefit families and the massive school closings will allow families to participate. These changes in the education landscape force us to reassess the role that families and communities play in educating their own children.

Many in the field have expressed concern regarding the equity of shifting from face-to-face to online for those students who don’t have access to internet and devices at home. We readily see the digital divide in these conditions, especially in rural areas. We must not lose heart, however, but return to the existing tools that families may use to supplement their children’s educational experiences.  

I have fond memories growing up in Detroit, Michigan and attending school. We would often have snow days that prevented us from leaving the house. However, my mom was wise enough to allow us the opportunity to play a game of jacks with a ball and metal objects as a math supplement; or a game of words to help with our spelling; or she often would allow us to help her bake to sharpen our science skills as we understood the rationale between mixing wet and dry, or hot and cold ingredients separately.  With the infusion of board games, book discussions, and creative activities, families can find innovative ways to ensure educational continuity, while also helping fill the learning gaps with real-world, real-time educational experiences.  

There are many resources available online, and I invite you to view, which has curated activities and advice for at-home learning during coronavirus.

A positive, unintended consequence of social distancing may be the strengthening of both community and family via education. In isolation, parents who are working from home are compelled to find innovative ways to collaborate with their children by providing teachable moments that may otherwise have been missed.  

Kathaleena Edward Monds, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Center for Educational Opportunity at Albany State University, a public historically black college and university in Albany, Georgia.

Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity Announces Request for Proposals

In April 2018, the Center for Advancing Opportunity awarded Albany State University a five-year grant to establish the Center for Educational Opportunity (CEO) to research ways families may obtain greater access to high-quality K-12 education. The Center’s interdisciplinary approach promotes research, innovation, and inquiry into issues relevant to K-12 education and beyond in order to improve products and services within the educational marketplace, especially for those living in fragile communities. The aim of the Center is to find ways, through research, to discover and uncover educational models, accessibility practices, innovations, and opportunities that can be operationalized, sustained, and shared in communities with the greatest need.

Request for Proposals

The Center for Educational Opportunity will offer grants for graduate students and faculty researchers to conduct action-based research projects aimed at supporting educational opportunities in fragile communities. Awards up to $7,000 will be funded.

Funds must be used to support the following research efforts:

Attracting regional, state and national experts, researchers may utilize the Center for Advancing Opportunity State of Opportunity in America reports and Opportunity Dashboard or other regional, state, and national datasets in research generation in order to understand trends, issues, and educational barriers;

Conducting action- and impact-based research that generates findings that may lead to educational policy recommendations, aimed at improving educational opportunities and removing barriers to education;

Researching ways to increase access to high-quality education for families living in fragile communities;

Researching issues pertinent to effective educational opportunities, educational access, educational innovations, and educational models;

Increasing involvement of educational stakeholders in better understanding educational policy implications, educational decision-making, and educational opportunities (including, not limited to students, parents, teachers, administrators, community partners, etc.);

Developing partnerships with educational organizations, including public school districts, private schools, charter schools, home schools, and other educational agencies and organizations with specific interests in removing barriers to high-quality education and improving educational opportunities for families living in fragile communities;

Expanding partnerships with researchers and practitioners across academic disciplines of students and faculty affiliated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs);

Providing professional development workshops on research and writing methods for students and faculty or providing continuing education workshops for adult and K-12 teachers that align with the Center’s Vision, Missions, and Core Values;

Providing similar opportunities and programs for non-traditional teachers (i.e. home school parents, retired educators, etc.), non-traditional learners (i/e incarcerated, homeless, etc.), and in non- traditional educational settings (i.e. churches, non-profits, etc.)

Developing partnerships with other HBCU students and faculty to include as research partnerships, presenters, etc.

Eligibility Requirements:

Only full-time, tenured or tenure-track members of faculty and full-time graduate students are eligible to submit a proposal. Collaboration is encouraged and proposals may be written in coordination with anoth- er faculty member, department or relevant external partner. External organizations, staff members or non- tenured faculty or instructors may only collaborate with an eligible faculty member affiliated with an HBCU. The grant funds are to conduct research and while some programming may be involved, the grant does not support programmatic efforts (i.e. summer camps, campus programs, workshops).

Period of Performance:

The period of performance is 12-months upon acceptance of the grant award notification.  Extensions may be granted for up to 6 additional months. Researchers are expected to produce at least 1-2 journal publications from the research grant awards (depending on the grant amount). Funds are not disbursed until receipt, and approval of the Contract, W-9, Supplier Authorization Form, and an Invoice. A portion of the funds are disbursed at the start of the grant, with additional funds being provided upon completion of grant expectations.

Publication Requirements:

Research studies must reference “This research study was supported by a research grant from the Albany State University Center for Educational Opportunity.”


Reports on the status of the research projects are required on a quarterly basis. A template is provided to all grant recipients. Quarterly reports are due:

Apr. 1 (covering Jan. 1 – Mar. 31); Jul. 1 (covering Apr 1 – Jun 30);
Oct. 1 (covering Jul. 1 – Sept. 30); and Jan. 1 (covering Oct. 1 – Dec. 31).

Guidance on what the Budget can be used for, allowable and unallowable costs:

No in-kind costs are covered. No indirect costs are covered. The grant funds may only be used to support research generation, conference attendance, conference presentations, student research support, or faculty stipend. Grant funds cannot be used to provide scholarships to students. Please use the M/S Excel file provided in the online Application.

Applications and Submission Deadlines:

The Proposal Application can be obtained and submitted online (you cannot return to the application; hence, you are requested to copy-and-paste your responses into the online application). Applications may be submitted throughout the year between Aug 1 – April 30. No proposals will be reviewed during May, June, or July of each year.


External/Internal evaluators will review and score all proposals. Faculty members with experience in grant procurement and the grant proposal review process may be consulted. Proposals will be evaluated based on research plan, impact on removing barriers to high-quality education, and action-research that has the potential of improving K-12 education.

Questions? Please email, Founding Director, should you have any questions.

Submit proposal here.

65 Years after Brown v. Board of Education: HBCU Center for Educational Opportunity Tackles Gaps Via Research

Education is our most important public good, and for fragile communities, even more so.

I have the honor of serving as the founding director of the Center for Educational Opportunity at Albany State University, a public historically black college and university located in Albany, Georgia. In this role, I am afforded the opportunity to enhance K-12 education via research — perhaps the most important public good — in a 27-county service area in rural Southwest Georgia characterized by high proportions of residents struggling in their daily lives and possessing limited opportunities for social mobility, places which we have come to  define as “fragile” communities. For such communities, education has proven to be one of the surest means for social mobility, which is why the work of the Center for Educational Opportunity is critically important at this juncture. 

Sixty-five years after the landmark Brown vs Board of Education decision, access to equal educational opportunity is yet imperiled. It is the work of the Center for Educational Opportunity to “advance educational research in order to strengthen and empower fragile communities, from the bottom-up”.  In other words, our Center aims to provide financial support to researchers studying issues germane to the lives of families and educators within these communities. One goal is to create “a foundation base for an informed understanding of community and individual needs that must be applied and consistently reassessed to incorporate into impactful reforms.” (Robinson, 2019).  Our long-term goal is to achieve equal educational opportunity through research and reform in order to create sustainable and meaningful change.

According to the Georgia School Boards Association, Georgia has approximately “1.7M K-12 students, 180 school districts, three school districts with only one school, and 73 school districts that have only one school for each level of grades.” (GSBA, 2019). Among the challenges we see in rural Georgia are transportation, poverty, and teacher retention.  The number of teachers leaving the profession remains a challenge — “50 percent  of teachers leave the profession in the first five years.” (GSBA, 2019). 

The research conducted by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) highlights some obvious gaps in education that exist in rural Georgia, including: 

  • 21 percent of Georgia children live in poverty
  • 50 percent  of 3 – 4 year olds attend preschool
  • 35 percent of 4th graders are at or above NAEP Reading
  • 33 percent  of 8th graders are at or above NAEP Mathematics
  • 79 percent of Georgia youth complete high school

The Centers four research pillars are: educational opportunities (i.e. eight of the 19 counties with less than 1,000 students enrolled are located in our institution’s service area) , educational access (i.e. 12 of the 51 school districts with five or fewer students per square mile are located in our institution’s service area), educational innovations (i.e. design thinking), and educational models (i.e. deployment of non-cognitive practices) that are viable options for teaching and learning.

Rather than curse the darkness, we will light a candle by creating research-based solutions. When we produce evidence of the root causes underlying the seemingly intractable exclusions and limitations that persist, we will move the needle toward measurable progress in ensuring that every child has a fighting chance suited to their way of learning. And we will also empower their parents  with information about the education choices available for their children. In doing so, we will fortify the university’s position as an innovation leader in education research, thereby expanding our founder, Dr. Joseph Winthrop Holley’s vision into the 21st century.

To this end, the Center for Educational Opportunity aims to spur  research proliferation among researchers in general, but among researchers comprised of HBCU undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty, more specifically.  HBCUs’ role in answering problems in our communities supports a bottom-up versus top-down approach — something our ancestors knew all too well as they maximized the use of scarce resources to self-educate, sustain, and nurture families and communities.

Education will continue to be a principal driver of economic growth and mobility. The Center for Educational Opportunity is creating a foundation base for an informed understanding of community and individual needs that must be applied and consistently reassessed to incorporate into impactful reforms that ultimately improves the life chances of our children who are still most in need.

For more information, contact  or 229-500-2119.