Black Genius is Black Youth empowered by Ashoka ChangeMaker

William Jackson is a Black leader, educator and Founder of Village of Wisdom, an organization with the vision asking the question which drove his purpose “What if the 7.5 million Black youth in American schools were exposed to the affirmation of their Black Genius?”

Across the U.S., school is in full swing — whether it’s happening via classrooms or computers. What are we learning in this moment? And what’s the bigger opportunity to rethink school and how children grow up? In this conversation, four Ashoka Fellows — whose innovations reach millions of American students — reflect on what’s working and what’s next. They are:

Jill Vialet, founder of Playworks and Substantial, in conversation with: Kara Bobroff, founder of Native American Community Academy and NACA Inspired Schools Network in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Will Jackson, founder of Village of Wisdom in Durham, North Carolina; and Dana Mortenson, co-founder of World Savvy in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Here are a few highlights:

Nurturing Black genius

Will Jackson supports Black parents to protect and affirm their child’s Black genius and champion racial equity in schools. Will responds to an audience question:
How should a 15 year old in your community think about the next 10 years of her life? What narratives should our society support?

Schools co-created with communities

Navajo/Lakota educator Kara Bobroff shares how her community came together 15 years ago to set up a new kind of school — with well being, community engagement, and Indigenous language and culture at its core.
In this moment, what can this Native American school network teach us all?

Interrogate the inertia in education

Dana Mortenson started World Savvy to foster a culture of global citizenship, creative problem-solving, and student changemaking in schools across the country. Dana shares on the moment of “multiple pandemics” — and the opportunity for systemic change. for young ChangeMakers to emerge in youth for a better world.

 “Black genius is being able to create new systems of equity and justice or the ability to dismantle systems of oppression. So, I hope our kids grow up with people protecting their Black genius and their ability to do those things.”

– Will Jackson, Founder of Village of Wisdom

The next chapter of American life

Jill Vialet created two organizations that partner with thousands of schools across the country: Playworks focused on the power of play (see their new playbook, click below), and Substantial, focused on redesigning the substitute teaching experience. As conversation host, Jill closed by asking her fellow Ashoka Fellows their wish for young people, to which Will Jackson responded the vision for Black Genius and a better world.

Welcome Change is a new web series (link below), powered by Ashoka, where we hear from leading social entrepreneurs about what works, what’s next, and why they’re hopeful. Find videos of this interview on Medium and other platforms.


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