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: 

Student Data Audits: Student data audits will assess achievement and opportunity gaps that impact African American/Black students in our schools. The Culture, Equity and Leadership Team (CELT) has partnered with the Schools team to include a dedicated space inside school strategic planning templates, with a guiding document that helps school leaders designed to support leaders and regions as they prepare teams and position the work in their respective schools. 

Central Office Culture/Equity Audit: We are partnering with Harvard RIDES to strengthen relational trust in the central office as we begin to examine the  data that will help us assess root causes of inequities. Harvard RIDES will provide coaching to help create capacity within the district to implement sustainable change.

Equity Experience: In response to the requirements for implicit bias training, CELT collaborated with DPS teams to create an experience that helps DPS team members develop an asset-based, culturally and linguistically responsive mindset. The Equity Experience launched last October to more than 1,300 Central Office team members. The next cohort is scheduled to include school leadership teams, as well as additional team members in our operations departments.

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 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.

How we will measure success: 

  • Increase attendance of Black students.
  • Decrease referrals of Black students to discipline.
  • Increase identification of Black gifted students.
  • Improved perception survey data from Black students and families.
  • Engagement with the new district-level Black Family Advisory Council.
  • Improved perception survey data from DPS employees connected to their knowledge and skill around amplifying Black students and families.

How we will achieve this: 

  • Create a hub of resources to support the understanding and skill around Black student and family engagement.
  • Support establishment and implementation of the district-level Black Families Advisory Council.
  • Identify and address needs by leveraging parent and student survey data.
  • Collaborate with school leaders to assess needs and develop a plan to support building relationships with 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.

How we will measure success:

  • 100% of professional learning and resources will include social and emotional learning and culturally responsive mindset considerations.
  • 80% of teacher and leader participants in professional learning will report the recommendations and strategies for implementing culturally responsive instructional practices offered during the session(s) were helpful.
  • Increase participation of leaders, teachers, and students in Feedback Loops for the 20-21 school year.

How we will achieve this: 

  • Know Justice, Know Peace Resolution: Develop consistent processes for curriculum Revisions, engage in feedback loops, internal & external curriculum review, revisions, and resource adoptions, and professional learning for teachers and leaders in K-12 for literacy; 6-12 for social studies
  • Principal supervisors and other district leadership will participate in Coaching for Equitable Practice sessions and will have an intentional focus on successful implementation of Black Excellence Plans that are being developed by schools.
  • Professional learning for Central office teams will include: Development of culturally responsive lenses to select transformational, humanizing, antiracist, and asset-based texts and resources.

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.

How we will measure success: 

  • Graduation rates: Increase percent of African American/Black students to 76.4% in pursuit of our goals to reach 90% graduation rates by 2025.
  • Representation in programming: Increase African American/Black student representation in Career and College Success programs and courses to match or exceed district representation by 2025.

How we will achieve this: 

  • Review and disaggregate Career and College Success program participation data to facilitate action plans to better support African American/Black students.
  • Continue engagement with African American/Black student students to understand their specific needs.
  • Review graduation gaps: Targeted supports to increase graduation rates (ICAP completions, CC Capstones, etc.) based on completed review of baseline graduation data.
  • Targeted Professional Development: Provide DPS team members with professional learning opportunities to accelerate learning and better support African American/Black students.

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. 

How we will measure success:

  • Growth in registration and attendance of African American/Black student and families events, and increase in student nominations for leadership achievements, such as “Anchored” events.
  • Direct feedback received from families who participate in events will increase to 85% overall satisfaction.
  • Collect baseline data on participant usage of the African American Education Network site. After the website upgrade, we will collect user data to compare.

How we will achieve this: 

  • Build out a district-level Black Family Advisory Council by the end of the school year.
  • Continue and broaden events for African American/Black students and families, including “Anchored” events and a virtual symposium.
  • Upgrade the African American Education Network site with historical context of African American/Black experience in Denver to the site by the end of 2020.

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.

How we will measure success: 

  • In addition to monthly progress reporting for Educator of Color recruitment, we will be creating a new Staffing and Retention Dashboard that will focus on highlighting schools and departments recruitment and retention efforts for Employees of Color.
  • Dashboard data will be used to help inform us where we need to increase our supports, recognize the success, and provide data for leader evaluations.

How we will achieve this: 

  • Provide high touch recruitment services for teacher candidates; all candidates will receive outreach from a recruiter within 3 days of applying, Success By Design hiring event for aspiring new teacher candidates, and priority resume review and outreach for the candidates.
  • Create additional resources and guides in order to support all hiring managers with supporting new candidates and employees of color, along with updating materials to align with antiracist framework.
  • Partner with Equity and Communications teams to share community events and resources and hold monthly chats and special events to support with the retention of our employees of color.
  • Partner with local and national organizations to support recruitment efforts for recruiting and retaining African American/Black candidates and new hires.

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 »