About the Project

How can schools and communities work together to create environments in which Black students and families thrive?

Beyond the Schoolhouse is an ongoing research project that examines the obstacles and opportunities in-school and out-of-school for Black students. We identify what students need to be healthy, engaged learners and how communities are successfully working together to create education opportunities for Black students.



Beyond the Schoolhouse: Overcoming Challenges & Expanding Opportunity for Black Youth in LA County

Our first report focuses on 14 LA County districts with 800 or more Black students. It found that Black students are more likely to come to school hungry, to suffer asthma and lead poisoning from disproportionate industrial pollution in their communities, and to face disruptive life challenges like homelessness, poverty, and living in foster care. Often, students who need the most support to be healthy and learn are instead more likely to attend “low-performing schools” that lack critical resources like school nurses, counselors and highly-qualified teachers. This “accumulation of disadvantage” places Black students in a harmful trajectory to to be more likely to face punitive discipline, less likely to attend school and to be less prepared for college upon graduation. Our report provides clear policy guidelines to help target upstream strategies and resources in support of Black student success.

Beyond the Schoolhouse: Digging Deeper | COVID-19 and Reopening Schools for Black Students in Los Angeles

Our second report found that compared to other racial groups, Black students in these 14 districts are more likely to experience the “accumulation of disadvantage” evidenced in the first report, and worse, many of these challenges have likely been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We looked at outcome data and conducted interviews with students, parents, teachers, administrators and community activists to identify schools and community organizations within these 14 districts that have created replicable, dynamic models that support kids’ needs both in and out of school, and have crafted actionable recommendations with a special focus on supporting Black students as schools reopened from COVID-related closures.

Bright Spots: Schools and Organizations Cultivating Excellence in Los Angeles Black Youth

Our third report looks more deeply at models of success that we identified in our second report to present a focused analysis expounding the practices, approaches, techniques, and collaborations that have sustained these sites’ effectiveness in supporting Black students. These ‘bright spots’ have an established history of facilitating academic success for the Black students they serve and their strategies are illuminative for both practitioners and scholars working to create broader equity within educational systems.

Ongoing Studies

Nationwide Black Youth Study

This study assesses salient race and gender gaps in graduation rates in a geographically diverse set of fifteen school districts across the United States, alongside a broad array of social and economic contexts. We intend to deepen our understanding of the contours of Black educational, social and economic experiences, and what can be done differently by schools, school districts, government agencies and community-based organizations to support Black student health and academic success. In addition to identifying disparities, this study seeks to illuminate Black educational success stories across the nation and highlight the social advantages of targeting and addressing existing educational disparities.