Leveraging Students’ Community Cultural Wealth

Last year, The Budd Center made a strategic shift in its programming to better equip its PreK-12 school and nonprofit partners in The School Zone (TSZ) in West Dallas. We decided to integrate professional development, training and coaching into The School Zone model because we recognized many of our partners faced shared organizational and human capacity challenges that we, as a University center, had the resources to address. Led by Esmeralda Ortiz, director of human development, we now offer our 49 school and nonprofit partners an ongoing four-session professional development series, at no cost. Each 60-minute session, held during our quarterly Large Group Meetings, is designed to strengthen our partners’ ability to implement academic, social and emotional interventions to high-needs students. The Budd Center collaborates with faculty from SMU’s Simmons School and University-wide as well as with expert practitioners to facilitate these sessions. The entire professional development series is grounded in evidence-based research and best practices.

In November 2016, Dr. Frank Hernandez, the Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Chair in Education Policy and Leadership and Associate Dean in the Simmons School, led a professional development session to equip our TSZ partners to recognize and value the community cultural wealth of students, especially students of color.  His presentation, based on the research of Tara J. Yosso, Ph.D., professor in the School of Education at the University of Michigan, challenged those working with students of color to abandon the idea that those students are operating at a deficit. He stressed that educators and nonprofit staff alike should begin to recognize that many of their students’ communal and cultural experiences are assets – capital that can be leveraged for more meaningful educational experiences and future success.

Many of our partners commented during the session that they felt very comfortable activating the aspirational capital of their students; however, many felt less equipped to recognize and employ resistance capital. In the video below, Dr. Hernandez talks about Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth model, a challenge of aspirational capital and different forms of resistance capital.

3 Ways to Implement the Community Cultural Wealth Model:

  1. Start by sharing the model with everyone in your organization and providing your staff with insights into each form of capital.
  2. As an organization, identify which forms of capital you are best at leveraging and determine ways you can continue to do that.
  3. Identify the forms of capital that are more difficult for your organization to recognize and leverage.Determine ways you can begin to leverage those forms of capital to improve your organization and the lives of the students and families you serve.

About Erin Crosby

AA-ExtContStu(Budd Center)
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