Martin Luther King Sr Community Resource Collaborative Receives $4M Grant from US Department of Education to Address Education Disparities in Atlanta Public Schools

The Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resources Collaborative (MLK Sr Collaborative) was awarded the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research Grant (EIR) for $4M, which spans over five years. MLK Sr. Collaborative is one of only 45 organizations nationwide awarded the EIR for advancing educational innovation, research, and development of new solutions to address persistent educational opportunity gaps for students who have been historically underserved and affected by the long-term impact of COVID-19. The EIR is a testament to the potential impact of its work on the educational landscape in communities.

This award recognizes the MLK Sr Collaborative’s commitment to improving education through innovation, mainly through the groundbreaking project called “Sankofa Chronicles: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum from American Diasporas.” The project draws on the African Sankofa philosophy that emphasizes the value of learning from our past while moving forward and reminds us that our past, present, and future are all connected.

The multimedia curriculum includes original short-form documentaries and corresponding texts for students, families, and teachers that lift the stories of people, culture, and rich heritage in nine (9) different diasporas across America. Initially, Empirical Education, the independent research partner, will evaluate the project for effectiveness among 8,000 high school students in Atlanta Public Schools and New York City Schools with a focus on students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities, students living in poverty, and students facing economic challenges or trauma. After the research and evaluation phase, the aim is to expand distribution regionally and ultimately nationwide through additional phases of the grant.

Morehouse and Spelman Colleges will take on pivotal roles as lead scholar advisors and subject matter experts for the project.  They will also serve as co-developers of the curriculum in collaboration with the Emmy-award-winning CWK Network (CWK), a media and education company renowned for its unique, evidence-based, storytruths production strategy that has demonstrated effectiveness in educational settings. CWK Network will assume the role of executive producer for the documentary programs with MLK Sr Collaborative and join forces with Morehouse and Spelman as co-producers in the accompanying digital/text curriculum. In addition, Morehouse and Spelman students will work as field producers with CWK media professionals in the development of the documentary short films.

The Advisory Trail in collaboration with Morehouse, Spelman and  CWK will provide the technology to enable asynchronous learning for Atlanta Public Schools and New York City Public SchoolsThe Urban Assembly will also collaborate with all partners to create professional development resources and training for educators implementing the curricula. Lance Lucas & Associates will serve as project administrators. The MLK Sr Collaborative will maintain the repository of these important narratives, ensuring their preservation and accessibility as the keepers of these stories

“Atlanta Public Schools remain committed to the social, emotional, and academic development of our students as part of our whole child framework, and the addition of Sankofa Chronicles SEL curriculum deepens our commitment and impact to this work,” said Atlanta Board of Education Chair Eshé Collins. “We are thrilled to work with the Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resources Collaborative and provide this opportunity to our students.”

Special thanks are extended to Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for their invaluable support and commitment to the education of our most vulnerable students.

“As a voice for Georgians in the United States Senate and a proud Morehouse College alum, I’m thrilled to see Martin Luther King Sr. Community Resources Collaborative, Inc. receive this significant award that will help educate and train the hearts, minds, and souls of our young people. Through the Collaborative’s rich partnership bringing together two of the nation’s most diverse secondary school systems and two of the nation’s most venerable HBCUs, this award harnesses federal investments to implement a new, innovative curriculum that will empower students of color in Atlanta and New York, enlivening their educational experience, and provide a new model for educators to stimulate the creativity and invigorate the curiosity of Black and brown students. I’m excited to see this program come to fruition, and I will continue working to strengthen federal support for important efforts like this that help create a brighter future for our students,” said U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

Integrating Sankofa Chronicles with the informative digital SEL curriculum is expected to yield significant positive effects. Students and teachers will demonstrate increased social-emotional competence, leading to improved behavioral and academic outcomes. Furthermore, this innovative approach promises to enhance school culture and climate, reducing stress and disengagement among students.

“As we embark on this transformative journey with the Education Innovation and Research Program Grant, our excitement is immeasurable,” said MLK Sr Collaborative Board Chair Kenneth Palmer. “This grant not only aligns with but also elevates our mission at the Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resources Collaborative. We are dedicated to empowering families with the necessary tools for overcoming daily challenges and achieving lifelong success. Education is a cornerstone of this mission. Our collaboration with Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, along with CWK and all partners, is a strategic step towards developing an emotive and culturally responsive curriculum. This initiative is more than just an educational endeavor; it’s about creating lasting change in the lives of those we serve as we build a brighter future for communities.”

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