In an effort to help close the achievement gap for Black boys under the age of 9 years, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced Tuesday that it has joined with the Children Defense Fund to create a grant that will underwrite a summer and after-school enrichment program designed specifically for Black boys ages 3 to 8, living in Newark, New Jersey.
The $77,000 grant will go to Communities in Schools of New Jersey to create a CDF Freedom School. The CDF Freedom School program focuses on reading, boosting self-esteem, and aims to generate a more positive attitude toward learning.
"This Freedom School will make a difference in the lives of young Black boys by surrounding them with a dynamic network of Black male teachers, leaders and mentors trained to engage them in a proven summer enrichment model," explains Gwendolyn Corrin, president and state director of Communities in School of New Jersey. "It supports children and families around five essential components: high-quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; social action and civic engagement; intergenerational servant leadership development; and nutrition and mental health."
The grant was part of a larger discussion Tuesday between educators, researchers and policy experts on closing the achievement gap for the 3.5 million Black boys under the age of 9 years at a conference called “A Strong Start: Positioning Young Black Boys for Educational Success.”
Some recommendations at the symposium included:
—Focusing attention on the challenges, needs and opportunities facing young Black boys within the larger picture of Black male achievement.
—Illuminating the connections between early cognitive and social/emotional development and later readiness for success in school.
—Examining the role of a high-quality, Pre-K–3rd grade continuum of education in supporting Black male achievement.
—Identifying promising, realistic policies and strategies to affect the path of the 3.5 million Black males under the age of 9 years.