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Mayor Durkan Announces $1 Million Investment in Youth Mentorship and Educator Diversity Programming

ACE Academy Programs Will Engage Over 300 Black Students and Educators

SEATTLE (August 26, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) will invest $1 million toward youth mentorship and educator diversity programs developed by ACE Academy. Earlier this summer, Mayor Durkan announced a $5 million commitment of resources from the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise levy and the previous Families and Education levy.

“The race-based disparities in graduation rates in our city are not just alarming; they’re an indicator that we must allocate significantly more resources to ensure Black students have an equitable opportunity to thrive in school,” said Mayor Durkan. “We cannot achieve true justice and parity without educational justice. At the City, we’ve been committed to centering the needs of students furthest from educational justice through tuition-free college, high-quality preschool, and investments to close the opportunity gap. This investment is an important continuation of the programs and priorities of the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise levy, which was overwhelmingly approved by Seattle voters. As we continue to answer the calls of those rightly demanding that the City do better to advance equity and justice, the ACE Academy programs will serve as a model of how to invest in solutions created by and for the Black community.”

“In 2017, I championed an initial investment to enhance teacher diversity in our public schools. This was the first time a city made direct investments in increasing the pipeline of diverse educators to further education justice for Black students,” said Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “Since then, the City of Seattle has heeded the calls of students, families and educators to continue these investments to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. These investments are a direct contribution towards positive identity-building for Black students and strengthens our teacher diversity efforts in partnership with community partners. Years of research tells us that when Black students have a teacher who shares their background, they are more likely to succeed academically and otherwise. This upstream investment will strengthen our collective community safety. I thank our educators, families, Mayor Durkan and Director Chapelle for their ongoing partnership on these important efforts.”

Using $1 million in funding from DEEL, ACE Academy developed the Family, Academics, Motivation, and Environment (F.A.M.E.) programs. F.A.M.E. has four components to engage over 300 Black students, educators, community volunteers, and parents. The four components are:

  • Saturday Academy for Black Male Youth: The Saturday Academy is a weekend mentorship program that will serve 50 Black male students with ninth and eleventh grade cohorts. These weekly Saturday sessions will include a community breakfast, academic support for issues including math, economics, and entrepreneurship, health and wellness initiatives including physical fitness workgroups and mental health strategies, and humanities lessons centered on empowerment, decolonization, and social justice.
  • Community Leadership: The 1K Black Men Initiative will host monthly convenings among Black community leaders and organizations. These convenings will inform programming for the Saturday Academy, including mentorship opportunities, guest speakers, and field trips.
  • Black Educators Café: ACE Academy will host mentorship and career development opportunities for 30 Black male educators via quarterly meetings. The Black Educators Café will seek to increase educator diversity and sustain Black educators in the field.
  • Celebration of Excellence: ACE Academy will host a one-time day of wellness activities featuring Black health and wellness professionals. The Celebration of Excellence will celebrate the Saturday Academy participants, their families, and the broader community.

The Academy for Creating Excellence (ACE) is excited to serve African American/Black young men and young men of color with educational and identity enrichment while amplifying the values of Family. Academics. Motivation. Environment (F.A.M.E). ACE is honored to be a part of an ecosystem of change that will eradicate our dual pandemics of racism and COVID-19 towards our mission of cultivating viable world citizens,” said Marcus Harden, co-founder and vice president of ACE Academy.

“We are excited to partner with ACE Academy on programs that will provide a Saturday experience for Black Boys that builds on their assets, seeing them as active influencers of their individual outcomes and builders of community with the capacity to be architects of their own liberation,” said Derrick Wheeler-Smith, founder of the 1K Black Men Initiative.

“The innovation and intentionality of our community partners never ceases to amaze me. What I’m most excited about for these programs is the multi-generational focus that will connect young Black students with adult men in our community, as well as the intentionality to develop and sustain Black male teachers. I look forward to participating in F.A.M.E. as a member of the Rainier Beach community,” said Dwane Chappelle, director of DEEL.

Working with community leaders who regularly advise the City on education issues, DEEL will soon finalize investment priorities for the remaining $4 million, which will be funded through savings from the previous Families and Education levy.

The Saturday Academy is scheduled to begin in September and interested families should monitor for registration updates.