Contest Allows Students to Pitch Ideas on Improving Educational Outcomes for Black Males

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit

By Sam Woods, Milwaukee Courier

…Milwaukee Succeeds, a partnership of educational leaders across government, nonprofit and private sectors, has launched a pitch competition called “Design Your Future.”

The contest seeks to improve the educational outcomes of young Black males in Milwaukee. Once five proposals are selected in January, the ideas will be implemented next school year after being developed over the spring and summer.

The winners will receive two different payments: a $10,000 grant to spend on making the idea a reality, as well as a $2,500 stipend for each individual youth working on the proposal….

Ideas can be submitted by individuals or groups and can be presented in a written, visual or audio format. …

Design Your Future” is built on the outreach work of groups like MPS’ Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement, or BLMA. Here participants of BLMA pose after a screening of “Black Panther” in 2018. (Photo provided by MPS)

Danae Davis, executive director of Milwaukee Succeeds, said originally the competition was going to include ideas for improving outcomes for Black and brown students. Milwaukee Succeeds decided to focus solely on Black men because data on graduation rates and attendance suggests that the demographic is most in need of ideas for improving outcomes.

“We are taking an approach rooted in ‘targeted universalism,’ which is basically the idea that if you focus on those most marginalized you end up benefiting everyone,” Davis said. As an example, she cited Angela Glover Blackwell’s observation that alterations to sidewalks meant to benefit people in wheelchairs also helped people using strollers and bicyclists as well….

“We want to center marginalized and oppressed voices, and that means putting the youth we serve in positions where their ideas guide our work,” … said [David Castillo, planning assistant at Milwaukee Public Schools’ Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement.]

Castillo said the ability to pay young people for their ideas and time is radical.  “Too often money goes to gatekeepers who come up with ideas on behalf of youth,” he said. “So money and resources going directly to youth in itself is huge.”

Read the full article here.

Learn more about the history of the education of black children and how to achieve racial repair and reconciliation.

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