Ember Charter School: The Challenge for Equity in Education in NYC | The State

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, operates since 2010 the Ember Charter School for Mindful Education, Innovation & Transformation, an educational entity focused on African American culture and dedicated to promoting anti-racism and justice towards black students, and other minorities such as Hispanics that have been expanding the diversity of this neighborhood.

The school’s mission is the ongoing effort to ignite, empower and transform people traditionally labeled as “at risk” into social entrepreneurs, engineers and global leaders. Enrollment demand has increased each year, the school receives 500 applications each year for its 80-90 available seats, and there is a waiting list, primarily for grades four through six.

“By serving the academic, social-emotional and mental health needs of our children and families during these uncertain times, the Ember Charter School continues to fulfill its mission. We work primarily with low-income black and Hispanic children and youth to transform the racist and ineffective public school experience of ‘test prep’ into one that focuses on their whole human development, ”states in its mission statement, the school.

While emphasizing that the pandemic has not been an impediment for it to continue offering its full program, the school emphasizes that its objective is to provide children in this community of high poverty, high unemployment and high violence, an equal or better education than school zones with a higher socioeconomic level.

A mission of service

Currently the school serves 543 students from the elementary, intermediate and high school levels, almost all black and Latino residents of downtown Brooklyn, one of the lowest income areas in the city. New York City.

Deep mindfulness and meditation are important principles in school.

Almost 90% of Ember Charter Schools students qualify for free or reduced-price federal lunches. 10% receive English classes and more than 35% of the parents were born abroad, since Caribbean, Africa, Central America and South America. More than 15% are students with disabilities and likewise, more than 55% of all students have experienced trauma, and more than 40% of those students have experienced severe and ongoing trauma.

In summary, in nearly 10 years of operation, Ember Charter Schools students are greatly outperforming the state and city averages in language arts, math and English.

In early 2019, Ember Charter Schools was featured in a report from the New York Times about black families in New York City who choose to send their children to schools explicitly designed for black children, rather than continue to push for integration into one of the most segregated school systems in the country.

Recently, the Tsai Foundation recognized the performance of the Ember Charter Schools among four other black-led organizations in Brooklyn. The Foundation established a $ 50 million Social Justice Fund in 2020 to “drive economic empowerment and address the systemic imbalances that produce racial gaps in education, health and wealth.”

“Our work is very focused on confronting and eliminating systemic racism and the enormous equity gap that it produces and continues to expand. Unfortunately, like most black-led organizations, despite our innovative and successful efforts, we have struggled to achieve equitable funding with our white-led peers. That is why this investment from the Tsai Foundation is so shocking: we finally have a large entity willing to invest in the voices, vision and leadership of blacks on our terms, ”he said. Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II, Founder of Ember Charter Schools and creator of the initiative #BlackLedSchoolsMatter.

Model to drive performance

The holistic and progressive human development system at Ember Charter School seeks to empower minds that will create a more equitable and thoughtful world based on love and kindness. The approach is to prepare students to be fully aware and culturally responsible, which is the main metacognitive tool to facilitate and develop self-efficacy. Combining this practice with a commitment to equally nurturing self-esteem and esteem through the use of affirmation and cultural response techniques rooted in empowerment and directing it to support the development of a whole growth mindset.

Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II, founder of Ember Charter Schools and creator of the #BlackLedSchoolsMatter initiative.

The approach used by the school increases and achieves the objectives of what is established in the New York Constitution in the pertinent part of the Education Law. The priority is focused on the development of self-efficacy, executive functioning and critical thinking skills. All of which have been shown to significantly improve student learning and achievement outcomes for students from high-poverty households.

High impact results

According to statistics from Ember Charter School, students who entered before 3rd grade begin to dramatically outperform almost all of their peers from public schools in New York City when they finish high school.

While the majority of Black and Latino students in the city’s public schools experience a continued decline in their performance on state tests as they progress through high school, Ember Charter School students (more than 50% of which have and continue to experience significant trauma), instead, they experience dramatic growth and higher performance during the same period with more than 55% growth in English Language Arts (ELA) and more than 74% growth in math (dramatically exceeding the state proficiency averages in both subjects).


The official school page is: www.embercs.org/

Address: 616 Quincy St., 3rd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11221

Phone: (718) 285-3787

[email protected]


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