Investing in Black male students’ success

Supporting Seattle Public Schools’ efforts to dismantle a racist system

By Sally Gillis, Managing Director, Strategic Impact and Partnerships

For too long, racist education structures and systems in our city and country have stymied the success of Black students. The barriers to academic achievement are particularly high for young Black male students, who are disproportionately disciplined in the classroom. This practice holds students back from realizing their full potential and our students need structural changes to ensure support in reaching academic success.

That’s why Seattle Foundation is proud to support Seattle Public School’s Department of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) with a $500,000 investment over two years. The Department of AAMA seeks to ensure Seattle Public Schools has the culture, conditions, competencies, and community connections in place for all Black boys and young male students to be successful. Our investment is part of a $1.86 million funding commitment made by an impressive group of local philanthropies and corporations.

Seattle Foundation is excited to be part of this system-wide approach to supporting students and families who are furthest from educational justice. We are proud to align our resources with more than a dozen other foundations and community partners to maximize the impact of our investment.

These new philanthropic dollars will be used over the next three years. The Department, which launched in 2019, is first conducting listening and learning sessions with students, families, and the broader community in the coming months. These conversations will set the foundation for the development of a multi-year work plan and bring coherence to the district’s and community’s efforts to support each and every Black male student.

Seattle Public Schools is the first district in Washington state, and one of only a few across the nation, to create and house a department that intentionally invests in the cultural and academic strengths of Black male students while simultaneously addressing their specific needs. The Department aims to disrupt racist systems and help Black male students thrive.

Seattle Foundation is one of many philanthropies that came together to support the Department of AAMA through the Alliance for Education, a nonprofit that advances educational justice and racial equity in Seattle Public Schools and secured all funding for this effort. We join alongside other partner funders including: Amazon, Ballmer Group, The Boeing Company, Casey Family Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, Nesholm Family Foundation, Raikes Foundation, The Satya and Rao Remala Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, The John Stanford Fund, and Tabor 100.

It is inspiring to be part of this community effort to advance the Department of AMAA’s important work. This is just one of a series of Seattle Foundation investments in the Black community, including hosting of the Black Future Co-op Fund and targeted grants through the COVID-19 Response Fund and Neighbor to Neighbor. Earlier this year, we also funded a Byrd Barr study of African American community health in King County and Washington state and support the capacity of various Black-led and Black-serving nonprofits through our our Black-led Pilot Program.

Read more about this philanthropic commitment to advance education equity in the Seattle Medium.

If you are interested in learning more about Seattle Foundation’s education strategy, please contact Sally Gillis. If you would like to support Alliance for Education’s work, please click here.