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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Boosting Wealth for Black San Diegans

EDUCATION: San Diego Foundation, USD Partner on New $1.5M Initiative

Partnering with the University of San Diego, San Diego Foundation is providing a $1.5 million grant to USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences to prepare more Black secondary school students for college. The new initiative also aims to fulfill their college financial needs and create a teaching and learning center focused on supporting so-called “neurodivergent” students for all San Diego educators.

The partnership was announced in late October (Oct.27) in a joint statement released by Foundation and USD officials.

The Black InGenius Initiative (BiGi) at USD will be a college access and early literacy program annually serving a cohort of 60 Black students starting in fall 2023. Each year, a new 6th grade cohort will be added to the program, with 420 students anticipated to participate by 2030.

Mark Stuart
President and CEO
San Diego Foundation

Under the new program, for students who complete seven years of participation in BiGI (6th – 12th grade) and are accepted to USD, the university will meet 100 percent of the federally demonstrated financial need of the student with a personalized financial assistance package.

“For San Diego, like so many other American cities, systemic racism — both explicit and structural — targeting African Americans has deeply impacted generational upward mobility within our Black community,” said Mark Stuart, president and CEO of San Diego Foundation. “This new education initiative will create systemic changes in the way Black students are educated in San Diego.”

USD officials were equally excited about their new partnership with the San Diego Foundation.

“I am thrilled and honored to partner with San Diego Foundation and the Black Community

Kimberly White-Smith, Ed.D.
Dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences.
University of San Diego

Investment Fund to lead this important and groundbreaking work to engage the brains, hearts and minds of Black children, families, teachers and school leaders,” said Kimberly White-Smith, Ed.D., dean of USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences. “Culling practices from educational neuroscience, neurodiversity, multisensory structured literacy and trauma-informed practices, we embrace an asset-based approach that allows us to close the opportunity gap for Black children in San Diego and realize their genius.”

Neurodivergent Teaching − No One ‘Right’ Way

As a part of the initiative, USD will provide students with consistent academic support delivered by faculty and students trained in neurodivergent teaching, or the idea that since people experience and interact with the world around them in different ways, there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning or behaving.

Currently, education programs at most colleges and universities do not address neurodiversity, leaving many San Diego teachers without the tools needed to support diverse learners. Educational experts say this lack of resources for teachers leaves neurodivergent Black students vulnerable to racism and ableism — and often results in poor academic performance and behavioral problems.

To train educators in neurodivergent teaching, USD will also create a “teaching and learning” center for all San Diego educators with adaptive technologies and support for diverse learners. The goal is to ensure that no child should be discarded as troubled or incapable of learning and that they are viewed as an asset to their community.

The $1.5 million grant is from the San Diego Foundation Black Community Investment Fund (BCIF), which prioritizes and invests in community-led, innovative efforts that increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans. The initiative with USD addresses education, one of four pillars of the BCIF that also include employment, entrepreneurship and housing.

Two-Year Anniversary of BCIF

During the past year, the SDF Black Community Investment Fund has:

  • Helped nearly 40 Black families buy their first homes and build generational wealth through the San Diego Black Homebuyers Program, a partnership with Urban League of San Diego County and LISC San Diego.
  • Granted $500,000 to the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce for the Urban Business Resource Center that has so far helped nearly 100 Black entrepreneurs start and build up their businesses.
  • Worked with San Diego Workforce Partnership and Neighborhood House Association to provide workforce training in healthcare, IT and construction to 100 people so they can grow their income potential with high-paying local jobs.
  • Grew the number of Black students who received scholarship support for their higher education and partnered with four local Black sororities to provide $75,000 in matching grants for student scholarships.

The Black Community Investment Fund was co-founded by San Diego Foundation and the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and seeded with a $1 million from San Diego Foundation, $250,000 from San Diego Gas & Electric, $75,000 from Wells Fargo and $25,000 from Cox Communications in fall 2020. Additional funders include Bank of America, which has donated $425,000 to the fund.

To learn more about the Black Community Investment Fund or to make a donation, visit SDFoundation.org/BCIF.

San Diego Foundation

CEO: Mark Stuart
BUSINESS: Foundation supporting San Diego area nonprofits
HEADQUARTERS: Liberty Station
GRANTS AWARDED: $1.4 billion
REVENUE: $12.88 million (2021)
WEBSITE: sdfoundation.org
NOTABLE: In 1975, the Gildred Foundation pledged the first gift − $135,000 – to help seed San Diego Foundation’s initial operations.


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