A School of Ed Project Looks to Improve Outcomes for Children and Youth of Color

26 students and 2 administrators of color pose in the UAlbany Campus Center
Tammy Ellis-Robinson, front row at left, welcomes Capital Region high school students and K-12 professionals, participants in the Equity in Education Explorations council. (Photo courtesy of NYSUT)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 15, 2022) — Many researchers in education believe that lifespan trajectories for young men of color are rife with inequities, embroiled in their relationships within a range of institutions, which include schools. For this reason, Explorations in Education: Networks and Pathways, a pilot project of the School of Education (SOE) and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, set out last fall to promote improved outcomes for children and youth of color.

“Our project is developing a pathway to encourage students of color as advocates in the education process,” said Tammy Ellis-Robinson, SOE assistant professor in the divisions of Special Education and Educational Psychology and Methodology, and SOE’s director of equity and inclusion.

“We are looking as well at developing a network of support and collaborations to attend to inherent inequities and provide explicit and intentional attention to mentorship, leadership and social justice.”

The project has recently received financial support from United University Professionals and UAlbany’s University Auxiliary Services. Philosophically, its work is buttressed by studies indicating that experiences with educators of color can have an effect on students’ sense of well-being and that trajectories leading to college attendance and successful college completion are improved when students have at least one educator of color in elementary school.

A poster for Equity in Education: The Black and Brown Experience
The project Explorations in Education culminates on May 7 in an educational summit, Equity in Education: The Black and Brown Experience.

The current project began in fall 2021 with the support of UAlbany’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. In November, educators of color from local districts gathered to brainstorm, share and consider the experiences of men of color through and to education. “The intersectional importance of all gender identities engaging led to a broadening of the project lens,” said Ellis-Robinson.

The project continues throughout this academic year, not only lending support, connection and leadership to promote improved educational outcomes for children and youth of color, but also providing opportunity for leadership among men of color of high school age and beyond.

“The group convenes and works toward asset mapping, formulating a diverse educator pathway, and strategy building,” said Ellis-Robinson. “Through this initiative, new educators of color will enter the education field supported by networks dedicated to their success and sustainment in the field.”

This pilot project culminates in an educational summit, Equity in Education: The Black and Brown Experience, on May 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. Participants will include educators in practice, UAlbany faculty, professionals and students, Capital Region high school students and community collaborators and stakeholders. 

Explorations in Education is a companion initiative to the Touhey Family Fellows Program, which provides $1,000 fellowships to create a pipeline of UAlbany undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds who pursue graduate degrees in the education and mental health fields. The program’s subcommittee members along with local educators for high school recruitment joined to select the summit’s participants.