ACLP Founder Aminata Sy noticed a multitude of issues concerning the experiences of students of the African diaspora living in the United States. These insights were made whole by her global reading of the Black American and African experiences.
Sy also learned about the experiences of ACLP volunteers, board, and leadership team members. Sy knew that something had to be done to empower and ignite change in the lives of young people in the African diaspora. Building a diverse community of students, parents, educators, immigrants, scholars, researchers, and advocates, we were able to bring many perspectives to ACLP.
Africa and her people have been perpetually stereotyped; those realities are reflected globally in the content produced about the continent and diaspora. Our research involves: learning about prospective students and their families (on an individual level and in a societal context), adopting the best theoretical frameworks for teaching minority groups, and carefully vetting material for the curriculum.
While learning about ACLP students and their school lives, Sy noted some common experiences: lack of resources for quality education, cultural exclusion from curricula and instruction, dismissal of intelligence and value, and bullying/stereotypes tied to their origins.
ACLP aims to teach in a culturally responsive manner. Culturally responsive pedagogy is rooted in students’ cultures, backgrounds, experiences, and frames of reference. This style of teaching creates a learning environment that encourages all students to succeed rather than compete among themselves. This teaching approach prioritizes comprehension, critical thinking, collaboration, and application of knowledge. Culturally responsive teaching requires open-mindedness and courage to welcome uncertainty and imperfection as to expand the imagination and innovation.
All our experiences and research point to the need for us to empower students within the African diaspora. Thus, ACLP and our efforts seek:
1) To create and teach an African-centered, culturally responsive college preparatory curriculum (featuring empowering guest speakers from America, Africa, and throughout the diaspora).
2) To promote cultural pride and self-awareness by centering teaching and learning in students' experiences in a welcoming environment.
3) To advocate for policy changes for K-12 Black students in the School District of Philadelphia.
For the 2020-2021 school year, ACLP is partnering with Paul Robeson High School to teach our culturally responsive, African-centered college preparatory curriculum with five key aims:
1) Encourage students to attend college
2) Teach students soft and hard skills to succeed in college
3) Mentor students in college readiness
4) Expand students’ perspectives about their possibilities to achieve their life’s goals
5) Empower students to see themselves as agents of change in their own lives and society.
Our curriculum also includes free career/college related trips.