African American Equity Task Force

The African American Equity Task Force was asked to develop and present a set of prioritized recommendations to help close the Opportunity Gap for our African American students and educators. The task force was made up of more than 100 parents, educators and community leaders who received guidance from an executive council made up of leaders in Denver’s African American community. The work was a significant time investment for community members. From surveys to community meetings — sometimes twice a week — the team dedicated themselves to finding ways to improve outcomes for African American students and educators.

Denver Public Schools and the Board of Education adopted a set of recommendations developed by the African American Equity Task Force (AAETF) in June 2017, followed by the Black Excellence Resolution in February, 2019. 

While there is still work to do, the initial partnership effort marks a tremendous start toward providing culturally responsive instruction for students, improving engagement with families and ensuring equity for all.

Black Excellence Resolution (BER)

Current projects in progress: 

The Equity Experience: The Equity Experience is the result of what is outlined in the Black Excellence Resolution driven by the Board of Education, which calls for “training all members of Team DPS in implicit bias and culturally responsive education on an ongoing basis.” Learn more >>

  • School-level Expectations: During the 21-22 school year, Instructional Leadership Teams will continue into year 2 of the Equity Experience and expand upon what they learned in year 1. School-based staff will also be able to participate in their first year of the Equity Experience.

Black Excellence Plans: Black Excellence Plans are required of DPS schools as of the 2020-21 school year. Each school has created a plan that is tailored to their student population and involves a deep dive into student outcome data to address disproportionalities across student populations, primarily in special education, Gifted and Talented and discipline.

Progress during the 20-21 school year:

  • 100% of schools have submitted the first phase of their plans, and while they vary based on circumstances and needs of a given school, we are working to bring increased coherence at a district level.
  • Looking forward, DPS is working to increase awareness of Black Excellence Plans among school-based staff and community members
  • There will be an explicit focus on Black Family Engagement during the 21-22 school year

School-based team members had the opportunity to reflect on Black Excellence Plan implementation in a March 2021 survey:

  • 82% of school team members are aware of the components of their school’s Black Excellence Plans.
  • 77% of school team members  are aware of  their role in their school’s Black Excellence Plans.

Ongoing Task Force Progress

Since the adoption of the recommendations by the Board of Education in June of 2017, five implementation teams have been created with the task of driving results toward each of the recommendations. Currently, these teams are collaborating with multiple departments and organizations to develop and prioritize actions that will lead to results. As of November 2020, the goals for this school year include:

Recommendation 1: The AAETF recommends that Denver Public Schools provide funding for the creation of an African American Equity Team that will ensure the African American Equity Agreement is upheld, effectively implemented and evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Review our goals and progress in the specific recommendation areas below.

Recommendation 1: We recommend that every school and department creates and publicly disseminates an Equity Plan that outlines both its commitment to equity and its plan to address inequity for African American students and employees.

Recommendation 2: We recommend that DPS adapt and expand the SPF Equity Indicator to integrate additional data that provide a more robust understanding of a school’s “equity performance.” This additional data is crucial for effective school-level progress monitoring and accountability related to equity for African American students and other marginalized groups.

2020-21 Goal: We will increase support for leaders to develop and implement Black Excellence Plans that amplify the Black student experience and reduce disparities.

Was this goal accomplished?

Yes — but this is an ongoing goal.

What did we accomplish this year? 

  • Created professional development courses for leaders to better support deepening relationships and improve experiences of Black students and families.
  • Wrap Around Project: This project provides leaders with the opportunities to connect and build relationships with students and families and provide resources that meet the needs of students and parents in an equitable way.
  • Developed and launched FACE University, which opens dialogue between parents and educators to support parents in developing a deeper understanding of behavior and the educational system so they are best equipped to navigate it, as their child’s/children’s primary advocate

What are our next steps? 

Continue intentional conversations with leaders to support in addressing their individualized equity journeys. These supports will include improving authentic connections with parents while simultaneously offering resources and support to parents to eliminate communication and educational language gaps to improve communication and connection. Measure the experiences of our Black students and families.

Recommendation 1: We recommend that DPS develop and implement systems to support consistent and ongoing professional development focused on improving instruction, engagement and communication with African American students, families and community members.

Recommendation 2: We recommend that DPS ensure curricular materials are culturally responsive to African American students.

2020-21 Goal: Develop and implement systems to support consistent and ongoing professional development focused on improving instruction, engagement and communication.

Advance the Know Justice, Know Peace Resolution, in support of ensuring curricular materials are culturally responsive, relevant and sustaining to African American students.

Were these goals accomplished?

Yes, we have made significant progress in both these goals this year, though they will be ongoing.

What did we accomplish this year?

Goal 1:  We know we have made progress towards this goal based on the successful implementation of new Professional Learning (PL). More substantially, we have also noticed changes in practices resulting from our PL. For example, our teams have been seen integrating humanizing language into their curricular review processes (such as advocating for use of the Steinhardt rubric and asking the question “Whose story does this tell?”, “Whose story is not included?”). We’re also seeing teachers integrate these best practices into their instruction, as indicated in post PL surveys and anecdotal evidence. All of this suggests initial efforts are yielding the anticipated results.

Goal 2:  We have Integrated Culturally Responsive Education considerations and rubrics into our curricular review processes and created a committee that is currently updating procedures and processes to creating consistent feedback loops. We have considered, piloted and adopted curricula that reflect the diverse experiences of our students for our DPS-supported “suite of resources.” Examples of these resources include: Black History 365, Comprehensive Health, Financial Literacy, and Cultural Competency courses.

All of these steps have been taken and completed in consultation with community members, experts in the field and educators. Much like Goal 1, this work will be ongoing; however, we know we have made significant progress based on the current shifts, including broader and improved curricular resources.

What are our next steps? 

Goal 1: In order to build on our current foundation, we plan to:

  • Look at ways to differentiate Professional Learning (PL) moving forward, so that educators in different places on their instructional and equity journey have information that is tailored to their context
  • Looking for ways to build PL coherence so that all sessions feel connected and build on similar themes and shared understandings

Goal 2: We plan to continue to meet the tenets of the Know Justice, Know Peace resolution, as well as continuously improve on the steps we have already taken. Our concrete next steps are:

  • Continued engagement with the community (students, educators, families, experts) on our progress
  • Systemization of established feedback loops and other best practices adopted as the result of the Know Justice, Know Peace resolution
  • Ongoing curricular review and revision

Recommendation 1: We recommend that DPS develop and implement an African American Equitable Access Plan that increases African American students’ access to high value learning opportunities such as: Advanced Placement (AP), Gifted, Talented (GT/Honors), Concurrent Enrollment, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math (STEM/STEAM), CareerConnect, International Baccalaureate (IB), Middle Year Programming (MYP), student leadership and magnet programs.

2020-21 Goal: Increase African American/Black students access to high value learning opportunities to increase graduation rates.

Was this goal accomplished?

Yes, but this work is on-going, and the pandemic offered opportunities to build from.

What did we accomplish this year? 

  • Diversified how we offer and support work-based learning and rigorous courses through expanded virtual engagement opportunities.

  • Representation of Black and African American students in Work-Based Learning remains strong, with a Relative risk ratio of 1.87* for participation in Coach, Launch or Apprenticeship.

  • We hosted Black/African American affinity career mentoring spaces for students to connect with Black/African American professionals, explore college and careers, and prepare for their next steps.

  • Worked with schools to expand access to concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment, and other college in high school courses through virtual and hybrid options.

* Relative risk ratio is the likelihood that a student in the sub-population is participating in rigorous coursework versus any other student. Anything below 0.75 as being at risk for under-representation.

What are our next steps? 

  • Re-implementing our Career and College Success strategy which focuses on shifting the focus to students needing the greatest supports, including Black and African American students
  • Working with schools to expand rigorous course enrollment post pandemic.
  • Continuing to implement and expand virtual career development opportunities to engage students in different learning opportunities that better fits their unique needs and situations.

Recommendation 1: We recommend that DPS establish Community and Family Opportunity Centers (CFOs) that respond to and serve African American students and families living in Far Northeast and Near Northeast neighborhoods.

Recommendation 2: We recommend that DPS create school-level and district level Black Family Advisory Councils that give voice to the goals, needs and concerns of African American students, families and community members.

Recommendation 3: We recommend that DPS design and disseminate a supportive assessment and planning tool that assists African American students and families in successfully navigating the school process at all levels, ECE through 12th grade.

2020-21 Goal: Create spaces and share resources for parents and families that elevate the outcomes of the Black Excellence Resolution, which are grounded in the AAETF recommendations. 

Was this goal accomplished?

Yes, and we are excited to expand upon this goal next year.

What have we accomplished this year?

  • DPS held three Anchored Series events, which all included information regarding the AAETF recommendations and the Black Excellence Resolution, specifically Black Excellence Plans. Families were encouraged to engage with their individual school leaders to discuss these plans.
  • Started assembling the district Black Family Advisory Council which now has its core members and is creating its structure.
  • Launched the expanded African American Education Network, available at This site has received about 1,600 visits in the second semester of the 2021-22 school year.

What are our next steps? 

  • Co-create summer resources calendar for families (summer camps, activities, etc)

  • Develop summer schedule for Black Dads Story Time and Book Club. Identify three dads/schools to pilot school level programming for 21-22 school year

  • Select Anchored Series programming dates for 21-22 school year

  • Support Black Family Advisory Council  in solidifying structure and engage in orientation during summer of 2021, pending availability of group.

Recommendation 1: We recommend that DPS create a district-led HR Task Force responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of equitable recruitment, hiring, promotion, renewal, and compensation processes and practices.

Recommendation 2: We recommend that DPS develop both systems and structures to attract and retain African American educators.

2020-21 Goal: In addition to our overall goals for Employee of Color recruitment and retention, we will set specific targets for African American/Black Teacher and School Leader candidates and hires for the 2021-22 School Year.

Was this goal accomplished?

Yes, we received support to set specific targets for teachers and are working towards meeting those targets.

What did we accomplish this year? 

Overall Current Data:

  • 39% of our new to Denver Classroom Teacher Association (DCTA) teachers and/or teacher leaders identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color educators
  • 36% of all hires for teacher and teacher leaders for next year identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color educators.
  • African American and Black Candidate and Hire Data for Teacher and Teacher Leaders: 120 candidates, 50 hires.
  • The Equity Dashboard launched in February 2021, which allows leaders to see demographic information on their recruits and hires.

What are our next steps? 

  • Continuing to provide high level support to candidates of color by contacting for a phone screen within 3 days of applying.
  • Continue cultivating candidates we have met at Virtual Career Fairs – we have attended 7 at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions this school year.
  • Prioritize sending resumes to school with openings and inviting candidates to our remaining 5 hiring events.

Stay Informed

Want to stay informed? Use the below resources to listen, read, watch and subscribe to learn about the latest information on the AAETF process and related equity work.


  • The DPS Culture, Equity and Leadership Team hosts a weekly radio segment from 10–11 a.m., every Friday on EDUCA radio. Topics cover different aspects of DPS and take a look at how collaboration within our communities can help us further engage, inform and improve. Tune in: Fridays from 10–11 a.m. on 1090AM, or listen online at
    • Listen to past episodes here.


Watch episodes of the EDUCA radio show with Leslie L. Juniel.

  • WATCH: Volunteer Appreciation, with Brenda Vasquez, Manager, Volunteer Services (DPS) and Reverend Dr. Eugene Downing from New Hope Baptist Church
  • WATCH: Student Voice and Leadership, with Solicia Lopez, Director of Student Voice & Leadership and students Kevante H. and Avery W.
  • WATCH: New Graduation Requirements, with Antonio Esquibel, Executive Director of the Office of College and Career Readiness and Kimberly Grayson, Principal, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College.
  • WATCH: College Planning and Preparation, with Dr. Jeff Ederer, Founding Principal of College Route Map; Frank Lee (Morehouse College) and Ashley Clark (Hampton University) alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); and Mr. Obinna Onyeali, Denver Scholarship Foundation Future Center College Advisor.
  • WATCH: College Planning and Preparation, with Regional Executive Director of College Track, Vanecia Kerr and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Denver Alumnae Chapter Officer, Deon Estes.
  • WATCH: CareerConnect Apprenticeship Program, with Work-Based Learning Coordinator, Emily Takimoto, DPS student Seven B., and Senior Field Engineer with the University of Colorado Denver Campus, Scott Altman.
  • WATCH: Whole Child Supports, with members of the Student Equity & Opportunity team, Jay Grimm and Charmaine Keeton.
  • WATCH: Suicide Prevention, with Dr. Jane Lineman-Coffman, Student Safety Coordinator (DPS) and Dr. Tara Jae, Founder & Executive Director of Youth Seen.
  • WATCH: Bond Improvements in the Near and Far Northeast, with Michael O’Keeffe, Deputy Chief of Operations, Trena Deane, Executive Director of Facility Management and Instructional Superintendent, Tony Smith.


Stay Involved

Sign up as an Equity Ambassador to receive updates about the task force progress, invites to events in support of equity and inclusion, and opportunities to provide meaningful feedback.

Sign Up » Receive updates on equity initiatives within DPS

Opportunities to Engage

African-American Education Network

The purpose of the African-American Education Network is to provide African-American students, parents and families with a tool to help navigate PreK-20 education in Denver and beyond. Visit the website.

African-American Parent and Family Institute (coming this fall)

A series of workshops hosted by the task force dedicated to educating and informing families on how to navigate DPS’ systems and structures in order to best advocate for their student’s needs.

Black Family Advisory Committee (BFAC)

The BFAC is being developed to promote opportunities that empower African-American families, If you are a parent or know parents and family members who would like to be involved in the BFAC, please reach out to Dr. Sharon Bailey.

Equity Boot Camp

Build skills and deepen your ability to infuse equity, inclusion and culturally responsive practices into your work during this one-day program. Open to DPS team members, families and the community. Learn more.

The Dr. Bailey Report

Responding to concerns from our schools and the community, DPS commissioned Dr. Sharon Bailey to report in detail on the experiences of our African-American educators and to listen to their perspectives and concerns about how our African-American students are being cared for and educated. In response to this report, the DPS Board of Education and Superintendent commissioned the African-American Equity Task Force in the fall of 2016.

Read the executive summary »
Read the full report »