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.

Progress toward the resolution is deeply intertwined with progress under the five AAETF recommendations below.

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 May 2019, the comprehensive list of accomplishments and progress on the recommendations 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 progress in 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.

Recent Accomplishments: DPS has partnered with Harvard RIDES to conduct a central office culture audit.

Recent Progress: The New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA) is helping DPS create a plan for coaching on equitable practices for African American/Black students, providing research-based frameworks and tools that are adapted to the District context. No other District has created a long-term equitable practices coaching strategy with an intentional focus on race.

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.

Recent Accomplishments: DPS hired Culturally Responsive Education Specialists (CRE) for each of the six regions in the district, which will help advance asset-based cultural and linguistic responsive practices for African American/Black students. We have also expanded professional learning sessions (i.e. CRE 101, CRE in White Spaces) to Fall and Winter Leadership Week.

Recent Progress: The Academics Division has begun putting together an internal process to do continuous, ongoing curricula reviews. This work involves relying on our internal stakeholders, such as our teachers, leaders and central office staff, and simultaneously working with external consultants whose background in culturally responsive curriculum reviews will help strengthen the way we make this work a part of our district DNA. We are working with Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) and Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) through professional learning, allowing our central teams to develop an internal framework for culturally responsive curricula reviews in DPS.

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.

Recent Accomplishments: CareerConnect, which one year ago did not have a proportionate number of African American/Black students enrolled, is now at representation, with 13% of students enrolled identifying as African American/Black. Concurrent Enrollment participation by African American/Black students has increased over the past three school years (2016-17 to 2018-19) to the point where the gap in African American/Black representation in Concurrent Enrollment classes is around 1%.

Recent Progress: DPS launched the African American Success Network, a targeted support for students to develop career aspirations and discuss navigating personal and professional spaces as someone who is African American/Black. The program started with 30 students, half from McAuliffe at Manual and half from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College. African American/Black professionals from across Denver volunteered their time to provide relatable real-world insight and career guidance to 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.

Recent Accomplishments: The Family and Youth Services team within the Family and Community Engagement department partnered with the DPS Foundation and the Denver Office of Children’s Affairs and was awarded $60,000 in funding from Bank of America to leverage towards the My Brother’s Keeper Summer of Success Initiative. With an additional $41,500 in funding provided by Denver Economic Development and Opportunity through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program grant, FACE will leverage $101,500 to provide 50 young men of color meaningful remote work experiences this summer.

Recent Progress: The AAETF began the African American Parent and Family Institute which launched it’s Anchored Series, remote learning circles, and provided an opportunity for students and parents to attend the annual African American Youth Leadership Conference in Colorado Springs. The Anchored series created large-scale events that honor Black student excellence through a student nomination and recognition process, drawing approximately 370 people. They are centered in celebration and relevant information to support students’ educational journeys. Most recently, the AAPFI shifted to remote engagement due to district closure, and has hosted four virtual Black family listening and learning circles. Click here for more information!

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.

Recent Accomplishments: Talent Acquisition is continuing our recruiting efforts in order to attract more teachers of color to DPS. New for the 2020-21 recruitment season, recruiters have been conducting phone interviews with every new candidate of color who applies to be a teacher in DPS. As of May 18th, 14% of our new teacher and Special Service Providers are African American/Black, for a total of 24 new hires. Additionally, 22% of our newly hired Principals and Assistant Principals are African American/Black, for a total of 11 new hires.

Recent Progress: The Human Resources team has developed targeted recruitment and retention programs that will help to improve our educator representation over time. We retain 59% of our teachers and 62% of our SSPs who are African American/Black over five years compared to 53% of white educators, which means we have above-average retention for our African American/Black educators.

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 »