March 1, 2018 5:18 pm
The National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI) and Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley partnered in a participatory project that centered the experiences of girls of color in the co-construction of strategies to produce safe learning conditions for girls of color. This initiative, Project Focus: Girls of Color, engaged girls of color as policy stakeholders in the development of a school culture that is responsive to their needs. For this project, NBWJI led focus groups with over 100 girls of color attending Boston-area primary and secondary schools, as well as parents/ guardians and school personnel. Subsequent to the focus groups, Councilor At-Large Pressley held two listening-only public hearings.
The first hearing provided space for the girls to provide public testimony regarding their experiences and needs in school, and to offer solutions for how schools could address them. The second hearing provided a platform for school leaders to provide public testimony regarding policies and practices that aim to improve student outcomes by reducing disparities among the use of punitive school discipline practices. Both hearings were held with the intention of uplifting community perspectives regarding the creation of safe and supportive learning environments for girls of color and their broader school communities