The Calhoun School is one of the world’s most famous progressive Firm Schools. Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the school, which is also well-known for its strong commitment to diversity, has been notified that it will receive a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to produce a 3-part multimedia project titled “What Kids Of Color Know & White Kids Don’t — Deconstructing Racism.” The project is intended to reshape the conversation about institutionalized racism and white privilege in America.
The exact grant amount comes to $243,063. The leader of the project will be The Calhoun School administrator David Alpert. Participants in the project include some faculty at The Calhoun School and students in Calhoun’s Upper and Middle schools. The project will include an elementary, middle and upper school curriculum, a documentary film, and an interactive website, intended to reach parents, teachers and students in public and independent schools. The purpose of the interactive website will be changing “white kids’ perceptions of their white privilege” and will “engage them and their peers of color in an on-going, open dialogue”(source). Project coordinators hope that the project will inspire genuine dialogue between white students and their peers of color.
Patrick F. Bassett, president of The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) says of the project, “Since most of America is blithely oblivious to the frequent experience of many if not most people of color when it comes to racist assumptions, micro-aggressions, and dismissal of genuine grievances, we haven’t achieved the just and equitable society one hopes all of us aspire to. This project will provide the first step for white kids in fostering a heightened awareness, understanding and knowledge of their peers of color. And when that happens, we’re on the road to eliminating racism, as much as is humanly possible, in the next generation.”
David Alpert will also seek other funding partners to match the Kellogg’s grant. The project launch date is expected to be winter 2014.
The Calhoun School has assembled an impressive list of people to serve on the project’s advisory board, which will consist of scholars, educators, and artists. Among them include: David Addams (executive director, The Oliver Scholars Program), Lisa Barbaris (artistic director, True Colors Foundation), David Billings and Margery Freeman (authors and workshop facilitators, The People’s Institute of Survival and Beyond), Joel Coen (filmmaker, screenwriter, director), Troy Duster (author and professor of sociology, NYU), Cyndi Lauper (singer, songwriter, activist), Fran McDormand (actor), and Patricia Williams (MacArthur Fellow; professor of law, Columbia Law School; author).
Here is a link to the full Deconstructing Racism Project Proposal, with background information about the project, production team and advisory council.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 as a non-profit agency whose mission is to work with communities to improve childhood education, promote racial equality, make families more secure, ensure children grow up healthy, and foster more civic engagement. The Calhoun School was founded in 1896 and offers curricula for pre-school through grade 12. For more information about this Manhattan private school, read NYC Private School Blog’s Focus on The Calhoun School.