Bay Area education nonprofit wants every student to have a Black male teacher

Friday, February 10, 2023
Bay Area nonprofit wants every student to have a Black male teacher
Urban Ed Academy, Man the Bay aim for every student to have a Black male teacher before sixth grade and give those teachers training and support.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you close your eyes and envision a teacher or even a teacher that you had growing up, do you visualize a Black man? Statistically speaking, your answer is likely no.

According to the Stanford Graduate School of Education, only 2% of America's teachers are Black men. The National Education Association had confirmed that bleak number as well.

"There's all kinds of data that suggests, especially for our Black boys in particular, but for our students of color, that if you have teachers that look like them as early as possible, there's all kinds of gains that they have," Jason Muse, a first-grade teacher at George Washington Carver Elementary School in San Francisco, said. "It has all kinds of implications for the achievement gap and then subsequently, wealth gaps, things like that. Education is key to you being able to actualize yourself and life."

In addition to teaching first grade, Muse is a Man the Bay fellow through Urban Ed Academy, an education nonprofit.

MORE: Bay Area school teaching Black history all year long as study finds US students could learn more

Urban Ed Academy was originally founded as a Saturday school to match young boys of color to mentors who look like them. Man the Bay is taking that mission a step further. The cohort's goal is for every student to have a Black male teacher before sixth grade and provide those Black male teachers with wraparound training and support.

"I was deprived of a Black male teacher my entire education until college," Muse continued. "I went to UCLA and I actively sought that out. It was an African American Studies class that I didn't even need for my major."

Randy Seriguchi is the executive director of Urban Ed Academy. He says Man the Bay has 18 fellows between the San Francisco and Oakland Public School Districts and heavily recruits from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

"In order to make it even possible for them to participate as teachers, we have to anchor in a different type of teacher benefit package and for us that meant attacking housing," Seriguchi said.

Urban Ed Academy covers all professional and living expenses for fellows while they go through the four-year program.

"Those stresses distract from attentiveness to the kinds of things that you need to worry about in the classroom," Muse went on. "Is my lesson plan thorough so that I can maximize gains for my students? Am I paying attention to which students are falling behind and which students aren't? Am

MORE: MRIs show stress from poverty, racism may alter brain development of Black children, study says

I managing behavior in a way that's conducive to the social-emotional development of the students?"

Muse continued. "All of those things play a role in maximizing what we can do in the classroom. I think what has been a godsend from Urban Ed is they're like, 'You know what, don't worry about your rent, don't worry about utilities, don't worry about those kinds of things. Bring your best self to work every day.'"

So, how does a nonprofit pull off free rent in one of the most expensive regions in the world? "A little ingenuity, creativity, but most importantly collaboration with big time partners starting with Black homeowners and Black property owners," Seriguchi responded.

Urban Ed Academy's strategy is to employ Black spending power and keep Black property owners in the community.

"As expensive as housing is here in the Bay Area, forecasting out how much we're going to spend, we know whoever we partner with is going to get a good chunk of change," Seriguchi said. "We've been intentional, very blessed, but intentional that the spending power on our side rests with Black folks was number one. There's of course conversations at the state level around reparations, this was our small way in playing a part in that."

A building that sits along 3rd Street in Hunter's Point has been in Martin Luther McCoy's family since the 70's. At one time, his father employed hundreds of Black San Franciscans out of the building through a patrolling company.

"My father was often asked why he had this office in this neighborhood and one of his strongest responses that I often remembered was, "If we don't work for and hire each other, then who will?'"

MORE: 'Every 28 Hours' school play in Oakland creating performance piece based on the Black experience

There's an office work space downstairs and four educators live upstairs in McCoy's building. They share the property with another non-profit. Muse lives at a different building just minutes from his school and in the same neighborhood as many of his students.

"From extracurricular activities, to seeing them in community centers, to seeing them at church on Sunday," Muse went on. "To getting involved at the local YMCA, or whatever it is, right? Your students can see you as a full person."

Muse's students even know he's a DJ on the side. 1st graders Juelz and Rocky explained to ABC7 News anchor Jobina Fortson that their teacher knows theirfavorite songs and that they enjoy learning reading and math in class.

When asked if Muse looked like he could be family, Rocky replied, "yes."

When asked why he said, "Because we have the same skin color."

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, when Black students have at least one Black teacher by third grade, they're 13%more likely to enroll in college. Two Black teachers? 32% more likely.

For low-income Black boys, their on-time high school graduation rate climbs by almost 40%.

Man the Bay fellows were the only Black men enrolled in SFUSD's credentialing cohort for the 2020-2021 school year. Unlike most Man the Bay fellows who come directly from undergrad, Muse has been teaching for over a decade.

"The conditions of the pandemic have actually made it really difficult for a lot of teachers," Muse said. "A lot of teachers actually left and I was considering it, but this opportunity allowed me to kind of stay where I was in education."

It's clear Muse is needed right where he is. To learn more about Urban Ed Academy or the Man the Bay program, please visit

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live