Along with the families we work with, we have developed the Black genius profile which serves as the conceptual foundation for our organizational approach. The Black Genius profile gives parents three distinct values. 1) The profile provides a framework to focus on important child development factors called elements: interest awareness, growth mindset, racial identity development, selective trust, and cultural navigation. 2) The profile then allows families to track student development across these areas of focus that are evidenced based predictors of Black children’s optimal development. 3) The profile provides language and a conceptual understanding for families to hold schools accountable to be more responsive to their child’s needs for healthy development.
The Black Genius profile is also the backbone of the Black Genius planning process which provides parents a flexible entry point into the Village of Wisdom community at any time. Through Black Genius planning, we develop deeper relationships with families by connecting them to resources and assisting them with setting goals related to the five elements of Black Genius. During the Black Genius planning process, we also collect essential qualitative and quantitative data on children’s school experiences.
The Black Genius profile not only allows VOW to track how children are developing capacities like growth mindset and cultural navigation, but also assists parents in seeing how schools are either promoting or inhibiting their development in these areas. Through surveys, for example, we learn about students’ experiences in schools: whether their teachers express high expectations, provide a variety of cultural contexts for students to learn in, give opportunities for racial identity affirmation, and maintain other practices related to the Black Genius elements. Collecting this data across several families--and across communities, cities, and states in the near future--will eventually give our parents access to national-level data that can be matched to their individual stories. As an organization, we will provide a secure database and statistical analysis for families to see the commonalities in their experiences, and a staff person to connect their pursuits to protect Black Genius. Over the next 12 months, we will be exploring how to leverage this common experience into a city-wide campaign in Durham, in preparation for the national movement we are looking to inspire. To help with this, we will partner with TandemED, the organization that inspired an education-focused campaign in Pittsburgh called “Black Is Pittsburgh.”