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Community Based Organizations Working Group
Initial Report by Shari Asplund, 8/03

The National Urban League, Inc.
120 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
[tel] (212) 558-5300
[fax] (212) 344-5332
[email] [email protected]

The following information (in blue) is from the National Urban League (NUL) website. It's long but provides good information on their goals and approach:

The Urban League is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.

Our Movement

The Urban League movement was founded in 1910. The National Urban League, headquartered in New York City , spearheads our nonprofit, nonpartisan, community-based movement. The heart of the Urban League movement is our professionally staffed Urban League affiliates in more than 100 cities in 34 states and the District of Columbia .

Our Mission

The mission of the Urban League movement is to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity and power and civil rights.

Our Strategy

Our three-pronged strategy for pursuing the mission is:

* Ensuring that our children are well-educated and equipped for economic self-reliance in the 21st century;

* Helping adults attain economic self-sufficiency through good jobs, homeownership, entrepreneurship and wealth accumulation; and

* Ensuring our civil rights by eradicating all barriers to equal participation in the economic and social mainstream of America .

The National Urban League is dedicated to ensuring that our children are well-educated and equipped for economic self reliance in the 21st century. To carry out this mission, the League's affiliates enact programs that serve children from kindergarten through high school, and on through college. The League also helps college students through its scholarship program.

Campaign for African American Achievement

The National Urban League's slogan Our Children = Our Destiny epitomizes the rich tradition and mission of this eighty-seven year old organization. The very viability of the African-American community is dependent on the academic and social development of our children and youth. It is for this reason one of the three strategies NUL has launched as a mechanism to achieve its mission focuses on children and youth.

Education has always been an "equalizer" for the African-American community. As we approach the new millennium, the ability to learn (to frame and solve problems; to find, interpret, and synthesize information; and to continually learn new technologies, skills, and occupations) and be self-reliant will be even more crucial. If it takes a whole village to raise a child, then NUL's Campaign creates the "new village," an environment with the infrastructures and supports to help all children and youth grow and develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The Campaign is about helping our children and youth become all that they can be.

Overarching Premises

* The academic bar has been raised. The academic skills children will need to succeed in the 21st century will be different. States are enacting more rigorous standards in all subject areas, and the assessments used to test children's mastery of the standards are changing.

* The academic and social development of children of color is in a crisis. In the decade prior to 1988 the performance gap between white students and children of color had narrowed. Since that time, this trend has reversed and the gap has grown. Children and youth are increasingly growing up in high-risk contexts such as: poverty, single parenthood, substance abuse, violence, limited health care, and inadequate housing. As a result, many times these children lack the educational, physical, technical, social, and emotional skills to be successful in the workplace of the information age.

* The infrastructure that supports the growth and development of children, e.g. the schools, non-school programs, and access to caring adults has eroded in communities that we serve. In addition, the institutional and public commitment to strengthen and sustain that infrastructure is diminishing.

Vision (What we want for our children.)

As Karen Fulbright-Anderson notes in her State of Black America (SOBA) article "Developing Our Youth: What Works", we often refer to "high-risk" youth when a more realistic assessment might be that many of our young people are exposed to high-risk environments. We see the Campaign as a way to reduce the risk factors in these environments and create communities that support the academic and the healthy development of youth. We feel that this approach holds the most promise for providing opportunities for success for the greatest number of youth.

The Campaign is built on a model that employs data-based advocacy and mobilization as a vehicle for community change. The Campaign seeks to create a strong infrastructure that enhances and supports the academic achievement and social development of our young people by merging public awareness of the problems with community engagement to develop solutions. It is based on a theory of a community working together under a shared set of vision and goals to promote academic achievement and youth development through systems change, not just changes in local programming.

* Access to high quality education, e.g. developmentally appropriate early childhood education, caring and competent teachers, rich and challenging curriculum, and schools organized and outfitted for learning.

* Opportunities provided in school and during non-school hours for children and youth to grow and develop physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.

* Connection with at least one caring adult who provides emotional supports and access to information and resources.

* Physical safety at home, at school, and in all city neighborhoods.

* Access within the neighborhood to basic goods and services and an abundance of developmentally appropriate activities.

* Ample opportunities for work, entrepreneurship and community service.

* Central, active roles in policy and program decision-making that develop attributes of leadership and civic participation.

* A healthy knowledge of and respect for one's own culture and those of others.


The Campaign for African American Achievement is aimed at creating systemic change on two levels. The first strategy is aimed at what might be called the public policy sector of influence in the lives of children and youth?educators, administrators, policymakers, and other service providers. This strategy focuses on promoting and sustaining quality schools and youth development structures and supports for all children. The second strategy is concerned with youth, families, and the African-American community directly. These strategies must work in tandem to create an environment that promote, supports and sustains the academic and social development of children and youth.

Public Policy and Programmatic Goals include:

* National, state, and local policies that provide the necessary supports to ensure the academic and social development of children and youth:

1. Developmentally appropriate early childhood education

2. Quality teachers

3. Challenging curriculum

4. Schools organized and outfitted for learning

5. Youth development structures

* Community capacity and adults (parents, teachers, school administrators, community leaders, businesses, service providers, and other adults) actively engaged in strengthening and sustaining the developmental infrastructure that allows youth to succeed academically and socially.

* Transitional supports for youth in bridging school-to-work and school-to-college experiences.

Youth, Family, and Community Goals include:

* A competent and caring adult in the life of every child.

* Youth leadership and responsibility for their own achievement and development.

Urban League's Role

Urban Leagues will act as facilitator, convener, strategist, etc., in merging public awareness and public engagement to promote local problem solving through shared visions, goals, and strategies. Urban Leagues will create and coordinate a process for addressing systems change, not just changes in programs. This means taking a holistic view of local problems, assessing needs, implementing corrective actions, analyzing results, and re-evaluating intervention strategies.

Expected Outcomes

The Campaign for African-American Achievement is a community-based movement that embodies the values of academic achievement, social development and economic independence.

Among children and youth, the Campaign will foster:

* Positive attitudes about academic achievement;

* Consistent and enthusiastic participation in school;

* Commitment to meeting and exceeding education standards;

* Increased social polish and improved navigational skills; and a

* Heightened sense of history, community and self-worth.

In short, the Campaign for African-American Achievement will create a new village and raise the achievement levels of our children and prepare them to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Community Assessment & Data Collection

A key activity of the Campaign is to illustrate what exists for children vs. what ought to be. Each community will determine the data it will seek based on its unique local needs and circumstances. In general, however, Campaign data collection will seek to assess if...

* Younger children have access to quality early childhood education;

* Teachers are fully prepared;

* Students are learning from a curriculum that challenges and prepares them;

* Local schools are outfitted and organized for learning; and

* Youth, in- and out-of-school, have access to programs that support their educational advancement and overall health and development.

Advocacy & Mobilization

The data collected will inform the action steps of local communities and ensure that public officials feel the muscle of the Campaign. Advocacy will include education, one-on-one meetings, high stakes negotiation and draw upon the resources and opportunities that local businesses and other community stakeholders can provide.

Partners in the Campaign for African American Achievement

Twenty national Black organizations, under the auspices of the National Urban League, have initiated the Campaign for African-American Achievement. The Campaign is a coordinated, intensified and sustained effort to raise the achievement levels and strengthen the social skills of African-American and other youth of color. The Campaign will accomplish its goals by reminding African-American communities, parents and youth that achievement matters today more than ever before and that youth can achieve. In addition, the Campaign provides a forum for African-American community members, leaders, scholars and institutions to advocate for public policies that equitably and adequately serve youth of

National Achiever's Society

A key component of the Campaign for African-American Achievement is the National Achiever's Society. The Achiever's Society is the upshot of a partnership between the National Urban League and the Congress of National Black Churches, a coalition of eight historically African-American denominations and over 65,000 churches. The goal of The Achiever's Society is to draw attention to and generate support for the majority of young African-Americans who demonstrate determination and achievement in school, in their community and in their life.

The Society will:

?Inspire youth to recognize that academic and social achievement is desirable and attainable

?Nurture youth as they pursue their educational, social and personal goals

?Counter the pervasive and damaging public image of African-American youth that youth have come to internalize and many adults have come to believe

?Energize adults to rededicate themselves to preparing children to meet the academic and job standards of the 2lst century.

Achievement Matters

Do the Right Thing

Every year 115 Urban League affiliates celebrate youth who are Doing the Right Thing.

Thousands of local youth, families, organizations, and community members come together as part of a national day of celebration to recognize youth.

The following information (in red) is from the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) website.


Los Angeles Urban League


"Where Success Is Working... for over 81 years."

The mission of the Los Angeles Urban League is to enable African Americans and other minorities to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights through advocacy activities and the provision of programs and services in our uniquely diversified city and region.


Ensuring that our children are well educated and prepared for economic self-reliance in the 21st century. Helping adults attain economic self-sufficiency through innovative training and viable jobs, entrepreneurship, wealth accumulation and home ownership;

Ensuring the civil rights and creation of a level playing field for Africian Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, other minorities and the poor, in education, employment, the criminal justice system, business ownership technology and other areas by eradicating all barriers to equal participation in the economic

and social mainstream of America .


The Urban League carries out it's mission through visionary and result-oriented programs and direct services, policy analysis, community mobilization, coalition building, collaboration, communities and aggressive advocacy and practices that promote equal opportunities.

Shari 's Initial Findings

I spoke to 2 individuals from the Los Angeles Urban League which serves not just the city but the county of Los Angeles . Jessie Tyler, who is with their Business Development Center , described how the NUL has a generic mission statement and that requirements flow to the 115 affiliate chapters which create programs that meet the needs of the local community. In Los Angeles county many after school programs deal with computer literacy and life skills.

Mr. Tyler was very interested in working with us and suggested that we could create a program for the LAUL and be advisors to the program. The LAUL could write a proposal to NASA or elsewhere for funding. He was straight to the point in asking if we are a funded line item.

He then had Sandra Carter, the Vice President of Programs, call me. Ms. Carter also felt strongly that a partnership between LAUL and NASA could work very well in meeting both our goals. She felt one program, Achievement Matters, would be especially suitable for us to participate in, as this effort encourages students to stay in school and excel. The program was brokered by the NUL with funding from State Farm Insurance and certain cities were selected to participate.

The LAUL .$B!H.(BAchievement Matters?Do the Right Thing.$B!I.(B will take place this year on October 18 at UCLA as part of a year-long effort to honor, recognize, and encourage youth. The day of festivities, celebrities, learning opportunities and lunch is expected to draw 2,000-2,500 youth ages 6 ? 15. Honda will be sponsoring a mini-science fair. She would love NASA/JPL to participate and bring some models of spacecraft if possible.

The LAUL sponsors a Literacy Center on Crenshaw Blvd. In Los Angeles which is open everyday after school. On different days they serve elementary, middle and high school students and adults. They had 7,000 people in various programs last year.

She said they have a literacy tutorial program everyday after school and computer camps in the summer. They do have an evaluation program in place. Everyone's progress is assessed, parent/teacher meetings are held. Students can't move to the next level until they've proven they have learned and retained the material. There are currently 300 students on the waiting list to participate.

Ms. Cater is sending me brochures with more detailed information on the Literacy Center and their programs. She would very much like us to partner with us. They are very interested in getting students more interested in STEM subjects and careers. I explained our role would mainly be providing content.

Shari 's Opinions

I think there is great potential to work with the Urban League's program for students. I think that for a program to be initiated at the national level and filter down to the local affiliates there needs to be major funding. To get involved at the local level would be easier if they have instructors who are interested and willing to learn our activities. I could see starting with 2 or 3 locations where we have WG members and working to build a successful model that could be replicated in other cities. Here is the list of their locations: http://www.nul.org/affiliates/index.htm

It's hard to answer our triage questions with only 2 brief phone calls, but my feeling is

they are a stable organization that has been around for nearly 100 years with many funding sources including government (the U.S. Department of Labor donated $425,000 inn 2001), corporate, foundations, planned giving and endowments.

They do partner with other organizations, I am guessing they have both paid staff and volunteers. Clearly they have tremendous local variability but within the context of their large umbrella programs.

From the numbers I was given in Los Angeles and from their sheer longevity, I would say they are popular with participants and families but we would need some real evaluation data to assess this and how effective they are in producing the desired results. The Los Angeles activities do have an evaluation process in place

Teaching about technology, specifically computers, is part of their program in Los Angeles . I don't think there is a lot of science, math or engineering content at this time, but there is definite interest in adding it. I do believe that OST student outcomes are important to Urban League programs.

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