P.R.I.D.E. helps Black children develop positive racial identity

The Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education (P.R.I.D.E) program of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education will participate in a project to extend its work to the Philadelphia region.

A division in Pitt Education's Office of Child Development, the P.R.I.D.E. program is designed to help young Black children aged 0 to 8 develop a positive racial identity.

“We think P.R.I.D.E is needed everywhere Children of Color are located in the country,” says program director Aisha White. “Having a presence in Philadelphia, which has a Black population that exceeds the total Pittsburgh population, will give our growing project an important start in reaching a much larger audience.”

The work is funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation, an organization whose vision is for “all children from low-income families in Philadelphia to have high-quality educational opportunities that lead to improved life outcomes.”

To carry out the work in Southeastern Pennsylvania, White and her team will work with the organization First Up, which champions high-quality early care and education for children in the region.

Led by First Up and supported by P.R.I.D.E. team, the project  will deliver a training program to help educators increase their awareness of racial bias and to introduce teaching strategies and materials that promote positive racial identity. 

“Alarming statistics from the U.S. Department of Education revealed that 41% of Black boys and 53% of Black girls are suspended from preschool settings on an annual basis. A study by Yale University found that preschool educators’ implicit biases related to race and gender are contributing factors to the disparities in preschool expulsions,” says Kellie Brown, a senior program officer at the William Penn Foundation.

The grant-funded program will feature “train the trainer sessions.” Educators will receive training in how to talk to children about race and how to better understand and embrace racial differences. First Up coaches will be trained by PRIDE to extend the training to Philadelphia early childhood education educators.

“Dr. Aisha White and PRIDE Director of Engagement Medina Jackson bring wisdom, knowledge, and experience in delivering content on race, racism, and racial pride in the field of early childhood education,” says Jillian Adler, First Up’s director of equity initiatives. “Their vision is aligned with ours and will help launch Philadelphia into its next phases of reckoning with racism.”

About 100 early childhood education teachers will receive training through the grant.

The training model will cover the following five areas:

  • Doing internal work (helping participants to revisit their racial pasts, experiences, ideas, etc.)
  • The history of race and racism in the U.S.
  • The history of race in early care and education
  • Race and young children
  • Putting learning into practice

There will be a Community of Practice component to offer a peer-learning opportunity for participants to produce activities that reflect culturally relevant pedagogy and program practice. 

“There are so many ways this project fits with the mission-vision of Pitt Education,” says White.