Helping Black students ‘achieve full potential’

Just days after launching an anti-black racism strategy, the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) has launched a Black Student Success Network (BSSN).

As part of the BSSN pilot program, a team that includes Graduation Coaches for Black Students and a social worker for the Black community will provide “internal wraparound support” to foster and promote Black student success and well-being.

“The BSSN is a call for swift and collective action to uproot and dismantle anti-Black racism in our school board,” says Graduation Coach Jonatan Fuentes. “We need courageous leadership and our hope is that the BSSN will be a sustainable and concerted effort to bring about much needed systemic change.”

The BSSN was created in response to a consultation process led by the Anti-Black Racism Steering Committee and York Region Black community partners. Its goal is to connect Black students and their families to critical internal and external resources that directly address the needs of Black students. The network will help schools create “Black identity-affirming learning environments” while also providing opportunities for staff to deepen their learning about racial literacy, the YRDSB says.

Its Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy will help address incidents of anti-Black racism and create safer, more equitable environments for students, staff and community members. Unveiled March 8, the strategy was developed in response to continued evidence of anti-Black racism in schools and will challenge the marginalization of Black students, staff and families.

“YRDSB is committed to doing the necessary work to create safe, equitable and inclusive learning environments where all students, including Black students, can achieve to their full potential,” says Supt. Cecil Roach. “To this end, we also commit to continuing our work with community partners, staff and students to reduce instances of anti-Black racism and to ensure that a student’s race is not a predictor of their education outcomes.”

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