At the Asheville City Schools Foundation, we believe that strong public schools are an essential part of breaking the cycle of poverty, dismantling structural racism, and sustaining our democracy. We uphold the value of each student and believe that we have a specific responsibility to increase racial equity in our schools.
We envision a day when all children in the Asheville City Schools discover their unique talents and dreams, fulfill their potential, and our district shines as a national model of excellence with equity.
We have recently created an online platform, www.equityavl.org, as a way to keep our work accountable and transparent AND to provide resources to students, families, educators, and community members.
Where we’ve been
We understand that advancing racial equity begins with each of us, and inside each of our organizations. The Asheville City Schools Foundation board and staff began our dive into racial equity with two years of self-assessment and training starting in 2012. In 2014, ACSF offered racial equity training to 50 participants - including four school-based teams and ACSF board members. The school-based teams received grant funding from ACSF to train fellow staff members and worked to identify barriers at their schools. Three additional schools applied for racial equity grants in the 2016-2017 school year.
With help from experts, we revised many aspects of our board policies and practices. We changed our programmatic evaluation so that we measure all of our work with an eye to impacts on racial disparities. We have made a commitment to continue to learn and grow in our ability to champion racial equity - we know that we have a long way to go.
In winter and spring of 2018, our board invited the community to participate directly in our learning through four events, the Choosing Equity series. Over 1,000 diverse civic, faith, education leaders and community members leaned into honest conversations about where we've been as a district, strategies being implemented, and how to work together to advance excellence with equity for all our children.
In 2017-2018, our staff also collaborated with Asheville High and the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA) in a Listening Project. The Listening Project was a collaborative effort to identify existing barriers and opportunities for student success. Volunteer listeners completed 100 hours of one-on-one interviews with students representative of our high school population. Student responses were used to create an action plan to increase equity and enhance success for all students at Asheville High School and SILSA.
What we’re doing now
Our board and staff see a need to uplift the voices of those most impacted by structural racism so that we can learn more about how to best address racial disparities in our schools. We are continually striving to create opportunities to listen and engage with students, families, and community members.
We are responding directly to community suggestions from the Choosing Equity series. ACSF is offering a Multicultural Books Racial Equity grant to increase student access to and interaction with books that paint a more complete picture of our history, society, and stories. In collaboration with Asheville City Schools, our web platform is updated to inform the community about current efforts underway in our schools to close the opportunity gap and how to become involved.
where you come in
We invite students, families, teachers, and community leaders, to join us as equity advocates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and sign up for ongoing updates through our e-newsletters. Have ideas or feedback? Don't hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 828-350-6174. We understand that transforming this conversation into an enduring movement will require all kinds of skills and talents. Let’s work together to make room for your voice.