Departments

African American Male Achievement (AAMA)

Four student pose for a photo together

The Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA)

How AAMA Works

The Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) is a driver of systemic change, not a program. By listening to the experiences and solutions of students and inviting engagement from families and the greater community, AAMA works to dismantle the systemic racism embedded in the public education system.

AAMA works with Black boys and teens to reconstruct school systems and structures to meet their unique needs, advance public education as a tool for transformation and liberation, and create a strong learning environment that attends to the social, emotional, and educational needs of students.

We are actively becoming an anti-racist educational system. By ensuring Black male students thrive, conditions will improve for all students in Seattle Public Schools

AAMA’s Mission

AAMA works to ensure that the educational environment across the system supports the brilliance and excellence of Black boys and teens.

In alignment with Seattle Excellence, the district’s strategic plan and collective commitment to unapologetically support and serve students and families furthest from educational justice, AAMA is committed to the long journey required for the positive transformation of SPS, and has been working to achieve that vision every day since its founding in 2019.

Seattle Public Schools is the first district in Washington state, and one of the few across the nation, to create an office that intentionally cultivates the cultural and academic strengths of African American male students while simultaneously addressing their needs.

Newsletter

Four Strategic Areas of Focus

AAMA’s work focuses on four strategic areas: culture, conditions, competencies, and community connection.

Culture: rituals, routines, and practices that honor students’ strengths.

In collaboration with students, staff, families, and the community, AAMA will use transformative antiracist practices to disrupt patterns of systemic racism and rebuild the school system to support the advancement of African American boys and young men in education and life.

Milestones:

  • We audited central supports focused on Black boys and teens and conducted focus groups with some recent graduates and seventh-12th graders to identify aspects of school culture we need to improve and support systems that work well for them.
  • We worked to center Black male seniors during a time of remote learning and unexpected obstacles. In partnership with other departments, AAMA supported school staff in their work to check in with each student and ensure Black male seniors were on-track for graduation.
  • We hired Black male leadership—Adam Haizlip and Kevin Loyal—as managers of AAMA. They are incredible role models for our Kings.
  • We launched the AAMA Student Leadership Council in February 2020. The AAMA managers conduct bi-weekly remote meetings and individual check-ins to ensure Black boys and teens continue to have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions that affect their lives and education.

Conditions: policies, structures, & systems that support welcoming and safe learning spaces. AAMA works with district leadership, the school board, and school leaders to develop and implement policies, structures, and systems that support healthy development and learning for all African American male students.

Milestones:

  • Centered Black student voices in the decision-making process for initiatives such as COVID-19 planning, grading practices, anti-racism policies, student engagement, and Fall 2020 planning.
  • Partnered with Chief of Equity, Partnerships, and Engagement; the SPS Department of Racial Equity Advancement team; and other educational leaders and groups to build capacity for Racial Equity initiatives benefiting our Black boys and teens.
  • Worked with other departments to identify students and families in need of direct supports through the Right Now Needs Fund, an Amazon partnership with the Alliance for Education that helps principals, teachers, and parents collaborate to remove students’; most basic barriers to learning, such as the need for food, clothing, and housing.
  • Collaboratively secured $1.8 million dollars from local philanthropies in service of AAMA’s work to create policies, structures, and systems designed for Black male students’ success. Read more about Alliance for Education.

Competencies: skills & knowledge that educators need to reach and teach Black boys & teens. The district is committed to increasing integrated training on implicit bias, institutional and structural racism, and cultural competency; and growing the percentage of African American male educators and leaders in the district.

Milestones:

  • Over 500 staff, educators, and community members had the opportunity to hear directly from Black boys and teens about their experiences and what they need to succeed in school. Throughout the four-day Liberation Through Anti-Racist Education Institute held in August 2020, AAMA worked with the Department of Racial Equity Advancement to create an opportunity for Black boys and teens to use and share their brilliance directly with the SPS staff, educators, and community members who attended. Read more about the Anti-Racist Education Institute.
  • Young people have told us that representation matters. AAMA is supporting the Human Resources team in hiring and recruiting more educators of color.
    • For the 2020-21 school year, SPS has surpassed its diversity hiring goals by an average of 10%.
    • One way the district is hiring more educators of color is the Academy of Rising Educators, a program helping those who are rooted in our communities, planning to teach long-term, and dedicated to anti-racist practices earn their teaching certificates.
  • In light of ongoing police violence and acts of anti-Black racism, AAMA provided guidance on district and school-based communications about discussing and acting on these important issues.

Community Connection: direct supports & networking opportunities for students to thrive. As part of SPS’s commitment to African American boys and young men, SPS will ensure that they receive the direct service supports (i.e. mentorship, sponsorship, internship opportunities, etc.), and community networking opportunities they need to navigate, thrive, and succeed not only in Seattle Public Schools but in life.

Milestones:

  • Collaborating with the Department of Education and Early Learning, the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, and other key stakeholders.
  • Modeling work on the successful Kingmakers of Oakland program, AAMA and the City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) implemented Kingmakers of Seattle at four school sites. Kingmakers of Seattle is an elective facilitated sessions for Black male students, facilitated by Black male educators. The course curriculum emphasizes black history, cultural knowledge, positive self-identity, literacy and academic mentoring. Kingmakers of Seattle will expand to two additional schools in 2021-22 with support from the City’s Family and Education Levy. Read more about Kingmakers on the Seattle Times.
  • Joined Kingmakers of Oakland’s Learning Collaborative, a cross-functional, multi-generational group of district, student, families, city and community teams sharing experiences, discussing lessons learned, participating in continuous improvement processes, and addressing problems of practice within African American male achievement.
  • With the Equity, Partnerships, and Engagement team, AAMA has joined a community task force of SPS staff, City of Seattle staff, and community partners to identify and audit community programs for Black boys and teens to provide more coordinated and collaborative supports.

Community Engagement

Our mantra for community engagement is “Listen. Act. Repeat.” We’re actively involving Black students, families, partners, community elders, and the greater Seattle community in building a system that celebrates the brilliance of Black boys and teens throughout SPS. AAMA is currently in phase one of our three-phase strategic plan, which is outlined below.

Phase 1: Discovery

  • Virtual classroom visits
  • Listening and learning campaign
  • Building the foundation of the Office of AAMA, including fundraising and hiring staff
  • Launch of AAMA Student Leadership Council

Phase 2: Research and Development

  • Landscape review of effective practices & research
  • Review of national models for educating Black male students
  • Interviews with national practitioners and system leaders that are changing the trajectories of Black male students

Phase 3: Strategy Development

  • Gap analysis of SPS resources for Black male students
  • Pilot-test and refine programs
  • Black Excellence campaign
  • Training and convenings on competencies and strategic work

Key AAMA Initiatives

In alignment with the four strategic focus areas, AAMA staff has been focused on the following initiatives:

  • Listening and Learning Campaign: AAMA is engaging and learning from district staff, students, families, and the broader community through forms of outreach such as virtual events and individual home visits.
  • Landscape Audit: AAMA is assessing SPS culture, conditions, and leadership competencies to identify promising practices and areas of opportunity.
  • Student Leadership Council: AAMA is centering Black male student voices and perspectives in every aspect, function and department of SPS.
  • Informational Campaign: AAMA is building community awareness, understanding, engagement and buy-in of AAMA’s mission, process and work.
  • Strategic Plan: AAMA developing a multi-year strategic implementation plan based on findings and insights from the Listening and Learning Campaign.

This year’s work will culminate in a community forum in January 2021 to share research conducted during the AAMA Listening and Learning campaign, the landscape audit, and next steps.