Bank Street’s Center for Culturally Responsive Practice Changes Its Name

center-for-culture-race-equity-bank-streetThe Center for Culturally Responsive Practice at Bank Street is pleased to announce that it has changed its name to the Center on Culture, Race & Equity (CCRE) to more clearly communicate its scope of work in examining the intersection of culture, race, and equity in our nation’s classrooms and school communities.

Moving ahead, the center will continue to partner with educators, community organizations, and families to create more just and equitable learning environments for children across the United States and internationally. Through professional development opportunities and coaching, the center’s work is designed to help practitioners understand the impact of race and implicit bias and to help school communities shift toward more culturally responsive and strength-based practices.

Below, Lisa Gordon, Associate Director of Early Childhood Programs for CCRE, offers additional insight into the breadth of the center’s work and how the new name change more appropriately captures its mission:

Q: How does CCRE work to support educators, service providers, and families in addressing inequities in schools and communities? What key elements make the center’s approach effective in stimulating change?

A: CCRE works with educators, community organizations, and families to collaboratively shift the beliefs, behaviors, and practices of adults. We elevate issues of race and implicit bias to create just and equitable learning environments so children of all backgrounds can thrive and realize their full potential. Key to our approach is the intentional focus on working with adults to view the strengths of children and families as resources for creating meaningful change rather than viewing children and families as problems to be “fixed.” Our Culturally Responsive Strength-Based (CRSB) model is the organizing framework that we use for capacity building and professional development. The model addresses inequities at the personal, professional, and institutional level to create systemic change to program policies and practices. CRSB focuses on improving the quality of relationships between teacher/student, teacher/parent, and parent/student to support and enhance student development and learning; addressing adult attitudes and beliefs about race and culture; supporting a paradigm shift in adults’ thinking from a deficit- to strength-based focus; recognizing and building on students’ and their families’ strengths; infusing culturally responsive practices into teaching strategies and programming; and engaging families and communities in awareness and advocacy.
Q: Why did the center decide to change its name from the Center for Culturally Responsive Practice to the Center on Culture, Race & Equity now? Will the scope of the center’s work change or expand in any way moving ahead?

A: We decided to change our name for three key reasons: 1) we cannot ignore the centrality of race in our society, 2) we view the culturally responsive practice as a foundational method for creating equitable learning environments, and 3) elevating culture sustains our work. We also believe that this name change allows us to clearly communicate the growing scope and depth of our work, which includes projects across the United States and around the world. Our work is grounded in a strength-based, culturally responsive approach. We also pull on other research-based, practice-proven methods such as restorative justice, trauma-informed practice, community-based design processes, and anti-bias education.
Q: Recently, the center partnered with the District of Columbia School System to support the school readiness and success of young African American boys and families. How did the project roll out and what types of gains have participants reported?

A: In 2015, the center, which was at the time called the National Center on Culture and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR), launched this project in response to the vast amount of data and research on the growing crisis in the educational attainment of African American males and in the wake of the Obama Administration’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. We partnered with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) to pilot the CRSB model and evaluate its effectiveness in initiating positive change in attitudes and behaviors of early childhood educators working with African American boys and their families. Three DCPS elementary schools participated in the pilot project during the 2015-2016 school year. A total of 29 teachers, 17 school leaders, and other staff, and 59 families took part in professional development training and focus groups. Data collected from our work revealed an increase in participants’ knowledge and awareness of issues of gender as they relate to boys’ development and learning, the effects of racial and cultural bias on the societal and learning climates for boys, and a positive change in their attitudes and understanding concerning the value of culture as a resource from which to build meaningful learning experiences. A change in participants’ dispositions, skills, and practices was particularly evident in their ability to identify and build upon boys’ strengths and culture to create supportive environments, positive relationships, and to guide lesson planning. Data from one school revealed a 22% decrease in the number of reported incidents/referrals of behavioral concerns such as classroom disruption, fighting, defiance, and physical aggression in its Response to Intervention system through the implementation of culturally responsive strength-based supports. The success of the pilot project resulted in the continuation of the CCRE and DCPS partnership and expansion of this work to six additional elementary schools. This phase of the project will launch in May and continue through the 2017-2018 school year.

Q: CCRE offers a range of specialized services targeting different areas of need and different audiences. Can you share a bit more information about some of the center’s flagship programs, how they work to help participants explore culture, race, and equity, and how, through this work, they can help create actionable strategies to help improve student learning?

A: We offer a variety of professional development training and capacity building programs that are customized to address a variety of needs. Our Professional Development Series provides in-person training, webinars, and communities of practice for leaders and/or practitioners in school districts, social service organizations, healthcare groups, city or county education health agencies, or community social justice organizations. The series supports organizational shifts in attitudes and perspectives related to implicit bias, the strengthening of skills around actionable strategies that improve culturally responsive practices, and the building of consensus for systemic change. We offer content-specific training and supports as well. Programs include School Success for Young African American Boys, School Success for Young Latino Children, Refugee & Immigrant Families, Indigenous and Indigenous Migrant Families, and Culturally Authentic Children’s Literature.

To learn more about the Center on Culture, Race & Equity, please visit our webpage, view our blog, subscribe to our newsletter, and/or follow us on Twitter at @ccre_bsc. For questions, please contact ccre@bankstreet.edu or 212-961-3385.