George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery — we seek justice and we say their names. But more than saying their names, at New Schools for Baton Rouge we constantly examine our role in dismantling broken systems riddled with racism and that underserve the most vulnerable in our community. Eight years ago, New Schools for Baton Rouge was founded on the promise of delivering an excellent education to every child in our city. At that time, most of the more than 25,000 students trapped in failing schools in North Baton Rouge were Black children. Every day, our work is focused on delivering access to those who need it most. We are making real progress, but it is not enough.
We know that in order to truly tackle the failings of systems, we must acknowledge and address the legacies of racism baked into their very structures. We continue to do this work with our community and recognize the privilege and responsibility that comes in doing so. I want to take a moment during this time to share the NSBR team’s commitments to anti-racism efforts and how we are seeking to do even more in this pivotal moment.
Since our inception, we have helped to launch or scale 19 schools that are delivering on the promise of better outcomes for the nearly 10,000 students they serve. 84 percent of the students served by NSBR partner schools are black students. According to recent data and analysis by Stanford’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO), these same students are receiving the equivalent of more than 100 days of additional learning in reading and math each year.
Last November, New Schools for Baton Rouge hosted the first Education as A Civil Right convening in Baton Rouge to begin an important conversation about race and education. More than 200 community leaders and education stakeholders joined us for the beginning of this critical dialogue. We are planning more opportunities to convene the community to continue our efforts focused on solutions to issues and ideas raised during this convening including how to ensure more equitable access to high performing schools, how to ensure students with greater needs receive the resources they need to be successful, and how to enhance the opportunities for educators, particularly educators of color, to be empowered to lead and serve the students of our community.
This year, we also funded Community Building Grants to partners who address the needs of families in areas that include equity, student growth and development, family and community voice, youth empowerment, and out-of-school time. These investments allow us to think beyond our work addressing the educational needs of students into areas of support typically not in NSBR’s wheelhouse.
In response to the recent tragedies, NSBR has committed to even more impact in the coming weeks and months. First, as a diverse team and board, we are committed to doing the difficult, introspective work through anti-racism exploration and education for our entire organization. We must continue to push our own thinking and challenge the biases we may hold that show up in the ways we approach our work. We will also make a donation to the impactful Dialogue on Race organization to support their ability to meet the overwhelming demand for their services in our community. Finally, we will provide funding to all New Schools for Baton Rouge supported schools to provide the diversity, equity and inclusion training of their choosing to school leaders and educators, just as we are doing for our own organization. We know it is critical that those who serve our students are equipped with the skills necessary to meet their needs and address their challenges at this moment and beyond, and we have been inspired by their desire to enhance their own learning and leadership.
At NSBR, we have always recognized that we have the ability to play an important role in helping to transform opportunity in our city, by ensuring every child has access to a school that can help them fulfill their dreams. It is not one we take lightly in this period of change. Our focus remains on the students who need us most, and it is a privilege to do this with community.