Supporting Priority Africa Network and African migrant families
By Jumoke Hinton
The Peoples Literacy Fund is for Oakland parents, students, and community members to share their strategies for how they are continuing to improve student literacy even in a pandemic. Energy Convertors and Educate78 have come together to give out $100,000 in mini-grants ranging from $500-$5,000 to lift up the work our community is already doing. In this space, we hear from the grantees on the purpose of thier work and how they used the funding from TPLF.
TPLF created opportunities for unique and innovative projects bridging gaps in the community that are identified by the Oakland community. In a diverse community like Oakland, it is still possible to overlook communities that need additional support. With the community reach through TPLF, we were able to identify projects like Priority African Network.
While the Bay Area is known for its diversity, and there are over 200 different languages spoken in the Oakland Unified School District, there are few educational opportunities for diverse language speakers beyond the dominant Spanish language. Oakland is home to a Black migrant and immigrant community that is often invisible despite their Blackness. The intersectionality of race, language, and nationhood is meaningful and thriving, even with the multitude of barriers communities encounter in cities like Oakland. Through the fund, we could interrupt and strategically place resources directly into the hands of those working the solutions.
A student who benefitted from PAN support.
PAN began working with Black immigrant students and parents’ literacy needs, which was necessitated by the pandemic. Families were experiencing a lack of support, especially for African immigrant families who have language access needs, and digital navigation limitations.
TPLF provided greater access to data and developed strategic recommendations for changes to greatly impact the entire system. PAN looked closely at demographic data, showing 22% of the OUSD population is Black. However, these numbers do not identify the parents of Black immigrant students, thereby missing vital information that can address the equitable needs of the Black immigrant community.
With this increased knowledge, TPLF has created a platform for PAN to explore policy as a lever to create change and impact the outcomes for students.
“Our project started during the pandemic to address the needs of African migrant families in Oakland whose children were not receiving educational support from their parents. African migrant families, some of whom were newly arrived refugees, had language and technical challenges to access online learning for their children.
“It was beyond amazing that a cadre of 70 volunteers was matched with parents to provide tutors. It makes sense that we would develop and invest in the volunteers for this important work.”
The most important part of this project was addressing the needs of Black migrant families who are impacted by race, immigration, and class status, to provide the best education for their children.
It inspired us to look into ongoing structural and institutional gaps that exist at OUSD.
TPLF can support PAN through the evolving network of community-driven literacy solutions being developed in Oakland and across the country.
Books for students.
In an attempt to learn more, we’re developing liaisons with organizations that have relations with OUSD serving Black families.
TPLF has begun to develop the capacity of organizations to experience the privilege of time and resources to vision and lift the values of your community. PAN has demonstrated its desire to build on the work and communicate its values and expectations for a culturally rich literacy pathway for their immigrant Black community.
There is now a bridge being created to work directly with OUSD and the multilingual department. Through consistent and further action, the project can ignite more learning for families who encounter their own barriers to language and self-advocacy.