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After establishing the California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE) in 2001, to advocate for Black children who were being marginalized in that state, Debra Watkins envisioned providing two-day summer institutes to inform and inspire educators with proven pedagogical resources to ensure academic and cultural excellence for students of African ancestry. From the onset, these institutes were well-attended and given excellent evaluations. Over a ten-year period, held either at Stanford University or the University of California, Los Angeles, these institutes combined to serve more than 1000 educators and featured the following keynoters: Drs. Bob Moses; Beverly Daniel Tatum; Gloria Ladson-Billings; Pedro Noguera; Wade Nobles; Lisa Delpit; Sharroky Hollie; Carole Lee; and Geneva Gay.

What We Are About


ABEN reverses the backward slide by facilitating academic and cultural excellence wherever our children and youth are--using culturally informed research, technology, visionary parent education, and networking in our communities here and in diaspora contexts.


The ABEN Agenda

ABEN works to address the following: 

  • Ensure equitable access to opportunities for learning and the utilization of resources;

  • Respect/support of the multiple identities and "verve" expressed by Black students;

  • High-quality student outcomes including mastery of 21st-century skills in STEM subjects; critical thinking and problem-solving; communications and collaboration; creativity and innovation; digital literacy; information and communication technologies; and social/emotional intelligence;

  • Social justice and a frontal attack on the effects of prolonged and persistent racism on American society, in general, and on Black students in particular;

  • Instruction on African/African American history and culture, in all schools, that is historically accurate and culturally responsive, with emphasis on the past and current cultural, religious, economic, political, and psychological experiences of Black people;

  • Equitable, appropriate, high-quality instructional support during and beyond the school day;

  • Independent efforts in Black communities that are systematic and ongoing, including community-sponsored in-and out-of-school educational activities that provide a safe haven for family engagement, facilitate teaching/ learning about the cultural contributions of neighborhoods and community leaders where schools reside, and help eliminate family trauma;

  • Reach out and serve the needs and interests of Black parents by re-enforcing their identities and values;

  • Black organizations and cultural centers, including churches, that raise the critical race consciousness of Black people and instill ethnic pride/ identity, especially related to the role of the human spirit in the survival of our people;

  • Black parents, other citizens serving as tutors, volunteer teachers, paid aides, and community activists in schools/cultural centers to assist with the implementation of the ABEN agenda.


ABEN combines and disseminates evidence-based research findings, education strategies, and culture through offering professional development opportunities, student-focused programming, and curricula designed to empower the educators of Black students and Black students themselves. Specifically, ABEN supports and partners with educational institutions - schools, churches, non-profit organizations, educators, researchers, parents, corporations, foundations, especially those who focus on African-centered education - that work to ensure Black students reach their full potential.

The ABEN Agenda
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