"Students are our highest priority” - Umoja’s Value Statement
Dear Umoja Family,
On behalf of the Umoja Community Education Foundation and its Board of Directors, we are writing to express our sincere condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all other Black lives that have been lost at the hands of a society that has allowed and perpetuated systemic institutionalized racism; a condition of this society that creates many challenges to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for Black and African American people. We stand with the world in the global protests of the physical death of Black male, female, and LGBTQ bodies. As an entity focused on academic success through cultural enrichment, comprehensive student support services, and intentional learning outcomes, we push against the social, emotional and spiritual harm often inflicted on Black and African American students in educational systems.
We urge colleges to create shared and sacred safe spaces for Black students to grieve and be heard. They are hurting right now. We need to embrace them and let them know we care about their safety and their mental health in these unprecedented and troubling times. As an organization founded by practitioners who believe in our students and know that Black Lives Matter, this is a time to uplift and reaffirm their strength and intelligence—a time to remind them that they are descendants of scientists, educators, great leaders, warriors, healers and kings and queens.
Our mission is to promote student success and improve lifetime outcomes for all students through a curriculum that is responsive to the legacy of the African and African American Diasporas. More than 5,013 Umoja students participate in our 60 plus programs and partnerships focused on degree attainment, retention, transfer, and career readiness. Recent research shows how our Umoja students succeed:
- First-time Umoja students persisted to the next year at a higher rate than non-Umoja students
- More Umoja students earned a Chancellor’s Office approved award within four years in comparison to their non-Umoja peers
- Umoja students enrolled in and earned more units in their first year than non-Umoja students
- Umoja students successfully completed their first-year coursework at higher rates than non-Umoja students
- Umoja students were more likely to have earned an associate degree within four years in comparison to their non-Umoja peers
- Umoja students were also more likely than their non-Umoja peers to earn an Associate Degree for Transfer within four years
Umoja operates in alignment with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Vision for Success. Our professional development and student-centered practices engage the whole student and acknowledge the unique gifts, talents and abilities that they bring into our classrooms. We urge our local, state and national leaders to examine and address persistent discriminatory behaviors and mindsets including harmful racial climates, unfounded stereotypes, hostile classrooms and campuses including unsafe learning spaces that create disproportionate and adverse outcomes for Black and African American students. We implore our leadership to further implement practices, policies and legislation that creates equitable experiences and opportunities for our students. As California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, recently stated in his Call to Action webinar held on June 3, 2020:
We can’t let this happen anymore. We have to take responsibility as educators. We have contributed to the problem. Our system of higher education is filled with systemic barriers that make this problem what it is today. We have to accept the accountability of a system, but our individual responsibility as well.
The Umoja Community Education Foundation Board of Directors has embarked upon on a new strategic plan that provides visionary leadership with a focus on strengthening Umoja programs by serving more students, developing partnerships with four-year universities and community organizations as well as fund development campaign that will extend access and opportunities for our students. Donations can be sent to https://umojacommunity.org/donate.
We ask that you stand with us to help stamp out systemic racism, White Supremacy, bias, and discrimination in order to reshape the student experience to one of inclusion, access, equity, and justice so that our students feel valued and in their quest for higher education.
Dr. Teresa W. Aldredge, President Nzingha S. Dugas, Executive Director
Umoja, (a Kiswahili word meaning unity) is a community and critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of African American and other students. Umoja actively serves and promotes student success for all students through a curriculum and pedagogy responsive to the legacy of the African and African American Diasporas.
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