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Clark State College starts Black Educators Support Fund

A Clark State College mentor working with high school students.
Clark State College
Clark State College
A Clark State College mentor working with high school students.

Clark State College Recently established a Black Educators Support Fund. It was created to support the recruitment, retention, and development of Black educators. It was started by an anonymous donor who was concerned about the issue.

In Ohio, around 94% of all teachers are white, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education. Only 4.4% of teachers are Black — and that number is falling. At the same time, the number of students of color are rising – both statewide and nationwide.

“Our student populations, particularly in public schools, are getting more and more diverse,” Bridget Ingram, a professor of early childhood education at Clark State, said. “There’s an increased number of students of color – Latina and Latino students, Black students, other students of color – those numbers are rising, but the number of diverse teachers are going down.”

This lack of a diverse education force has a sort of chilling effect on students, particularly students of color. Research shows that if a child of color has just one Black teacher in elementary school, the child’s probability of dropping out is reduced by around 30%. If they have two educators of color, their likelihood of completing high school and going to college is 32% more likely.

With the current number of diverse educators, however, the likelihood of a child of any race encountering an educator of color is very small. This isn’t just a problem for students of color.

“Not only does it help students from that community when they see teachers that look like them and share their background, but it helps everybody,” Ingram said. “When students are able to connect with teachers [and] other students that have different perspectives, that have different lived experiences, it helps them learn how to think more critically.”

The new Black Educators Support Fund's purpose is to provide scholarships, mentoring programs, professional development programs for existing teachers, and more.

Toni Overholser, the Vice President of Advancement at Clark State, said “This fund was really set up to raise awareness of the issue creatively, support awareness and develop the pipeline of teachers in our region, but also to help retain the current population.”

Overholser said that the first donation that started the fund was from an anonymous donor who has been deeply concerned over the lack of a diverse teaching workforce for many years.

They made the initial donation to start the fund to Clark State, and expressed a hope for the whole community to also contribute. The fund will be primarily funded through donations from the community at large.

“We have to lift all of our students up, everybody up, and this is a way to help,” Ingram said. “It helps an entire district and an entire school when we start to see people who look like us in every single classroom.”

You can learn more about the specifics of donating on the Clark State website.

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.