African Diaspora

The African Diaspora Project is a program that fosters global education and emphasizes the uniqueness of African culture and heritage. The purpose is to critically examine a range of concepts, issues and events that structure the reality of people of African descent.  The program takes a look into the origin and evolution of African people as a way to detect the greatness, hardship and struggle of their contribution to modern societies and future generations.  It aims to broaden students’ knowledge and understanding of world history, world politics and world oppression in order to expand their potential and willingness to prepare to be future leaders. The program emphasizes the study of indigenous civilizations, philosophies and ritual practices. Participants will be required to read African literature and select text books. The program will use the African Union models and other models to teach students cooperation, unity, responsibility and self determination as a bridge to cultural awareness. The objective is to build leadership skills, critical thinking skills and cultural competence in order for participants to respond academically, culturally, socially and emotionally. The program components include:

  • African and African American History
  • Leadership Development
  • Communication Skill Building
  • Life Skills (Program Solving, Identity, Prioritizing, Negotiation)

The program will allow for students to plan and coordinate external experiences and career explorations. For more information or interest in starting a program, contact: Demetrius Brown Sr., 414-256-4620, or demetrius.brown@ces.uwex.edu. If you are interested in volunteering or being trained to deliver the program, please submit an application (available as a Microsoft Word document or a PDF).

African Diaspora — Math Literacy

Mathematics is a language, that all should seek to understand. In July, the University of Wisconsin Extension in collaboration with the University Of Wisconsin Milwaukee School Of Continuing Education Center for Urban Community Development noticed a growing disparity in mathematics in young African American students. This increasing disparity gave rise to the African Diaspora Project: Math Literacy. The program was then conformed to train college and high schools students to teach math in a way that helps middle school students clearly understand in an innovative and fun matter. The project is a reform initiative designed to help African American students achieve a high level of mathematical competency. The program seeks to instill the spirit of personal responsibility through a pedagogy which encourages students to break out of their own passivity and take charge of their learning. Currently, in the United States, today only 10 percent of African American students took advanced Algebra or calculus. 54 percent of high school graduates are not ready for college math. (http://nms.org/Education/TheSTEMCrisis.aspx) With the right math teacher training, you can ensure all of your students are prepared for success. As one math instructor said, “We have to get them young, so that they are prepared for what is to come.”

In order to close the gap on the disparity of mathematics proficiency in the African American community population in the inner city of Milwaukee, Judith Ifarinde AmeriCorps/VISTA, and the University of Wisconsin Extension in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Continuing Education Center for Urban Community Development brought together 10 students with 3 math instructors and educators to go through a 5 week intensive training. The training was complimented with used a hands-on social justice curriculum in an effort order to generate a grassroots math movement to engage students to fully understand mathematics. In addition, we reviewed mathematics topics in conjunction with the national core academic standards. Midway through the program the group has an opportunity to conduct fieldwork assignment. We went into two inner city middle schools, BEAM Academy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School. The high school students that participated in this summer’s training consisted of 10 African American students, 5 female and 5 male, all from the City of Milwaukee ranging from 9th to 12th grade. This experience was made possible by The University of Wisconsin Extension Youth Development faculty who sponsored the entire program at a cost of around $10,000. This amount included offering the program to inner city urban middle schools youth free of charge and paying for supplies used for training the high school and college students and teaching in the middle schools. In addition, transportation to school locations and training sites were also included. This year’s summer African Diaspora Project – Math Literacy Training took place in downtown Milwaukee at the UWM School of Continuing Education. UWM made their campus facilities and supplies available to us.

After 5 weeks of intensive training, our high school participants gained full confidence in educating middle school students in mathematics. There were little problems, in regards to their inhibitions to teach young people, and they all looked forward to making a positive impact on the students, and making themselves available as a mentor, an instructor and math coach. Aside from the mathematics training, our high school students learned about themselves and who they are as individuals. They learned about the many unfair stereotypes our society places on them as African Americans. In addition, they learned not to let these stereotypes define who they are but gave them the courage to be part of the process of redefining what it means to be African American in the United States.

The University of Wisconsin Extension in collaboration with University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Continuing Education Center for Urban Community Development conducted a post-survey with all the high school participants that attended the 5-week intensive training. From these, we were able to see what our high school students took away, what they learned and with what mathematical topics they would need further help or instruction. One of the students mentioned ‘this summer program prepared me with so much I did not know. This program was a benefit for me and from this benefit I gained, I am going to share it with those in need of it.” In response to feeling confident in terms of working with young people and teaching them mathematics, a response that sums up most of the answers was, “I feel confident in terms of working with young students. I have seen the difference I could make on their lives and the bright face they have to learn motivates me to do my best.”

This fall the participants will be peer math coaches at Beam Academy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School. For more information please contact: Youth Development Faculty Member Milwaukee County Extension.

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