“WE WIN INSTITUTE working for a better future.”

The African American Mobilization Project is a joint project of WE WIN Institute and the YWCA of Minneapolis that is about empowerment and mobilization in the African American community. Focusing initially on the Minneapolis area, the project will work to create educational policies that are more supportive of African American youth and families. In this sense, we hope to return some of the educational decision-making power to where it belongs – in the hands of African American community. These are our children. We need to have a more powerful voice in their education.

How the African American Mobilization Project Works

1. The African American Mobilization Project has draw together a core group of African Americans with strong interests in educational change. This core group of committed folks have worked in two ways:

African American Mobilization Core Group: We have a core group of 15 committed African Americans who are working on educational change. We see educational change involving both talk and action – we talk amongst ourselves to define what is important to us and solutions that make sense to us. In addition, we develop specific changes to change schools and the school system. To do this, the African American Mobilization Group meets monthly to:

  • Define what are the unique needs and important strengths of African American students;
  • Identify important educational policies and practices that need to be changed and to develop strategies to change them;
  • Mobilize other African Americans in our community to work on specific issues;
  • Change the educational system by changing those practices or policies that keep our students from learning;
  • Respond to emerging issues or decisions that need an immediate and public response.

2. Community Dialogues About Education and African Americans:

The African American Mobilization Group also participates in community dialogues with mainstream community representatives. These dialogues develop two-way communications between African Americans and representatives of those in power. They change the way the mainstream community thinks about African American educational issues, as well as to listen to their perspectives on these issues.
Why We Need the African American Mobilization Project

All of us want the best for our children, and we know that the foundation must be a good education – the ability to read, to write, to compute, and to think critically. It means that they have teachers in their lives that are encouraging and that will not allow them to do anything less than their best. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different – most African American children in Minneapolis Public Schools are at least two years behind in reading and math; too few write well; most have not mastered the skills of analytic thinking. Our children have the highest suspension rates; over fifty percent drop out of school. We realize this is not likely to change without significant pressure from outside the established educational system. It is time for parents and community representatives from the African American community to take ownership of education.

We believe in self-determination. We interject African American voices into the policy and change process. This is our community; these are our children. Who, more than us, has the best interests of these children in mind?

We must become our own experts. For too long, education policy has been the property of professional and academic experts. It is time for us to reclaim this territory.

We will bring new ideas to educators. We know our community. We know that culturally-grounded approaches work with children. We must now persuade the established system of the wisdom of our ways.

We will broaden civic engagement to include the African American community. The Community Dialogues will engage African American community members in dialogues with mainstream community leadership on these issues and on how to create community change.