Africatown International (AI) invests in the professional development of youth of African Descent through educational programs that build professional skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM). AI builds bridges between children and teens in the United States and Africa. Working together with educators in the U.S. and a partner school in Serekunda, Gambia we have created a pilot program that utilizes technology to provide instruction to middle and high school students through virtual classrooms. This provides an opportunity for share ideas, learn together across geographical boundaries and learn about a new culture.
Africatown International’s educational agenda seeks to reverse the fundamental failures of modern learning institutions globally that perpetuate inequality. AI provides innovative solutions that promote educational equity. Black populations throughout the African Diaspora (including the United States) are continuing to suffer from sub-standard educational institutions that rely on culturally disconnected information and racial hierarchy. The Global Classroom Initiative brings together ten students in our Seattle classroom with ten students in our partner school in Serekunda, Gambia. Through translation in English and Sindike a common language spoken in Gambia. Our goal is for students to embrace their similarities while learning from their differences. Our long-term goal through this exchange is to create a community of learners inspired to work together to improve the economic future of people of African Descent.
Africatown International aims to improve environmental, economic and social conditions for people on the African continent through our Global Resource Management Solutions (GRMS) initiative. GRMS seeks to address the devastating impact of worldwide exploitation of the people and natural resources of Africa by providing education and access to experts in sustainable resource extraction, production and worldwide distribution. Our first pilot project was launched in Serekunda, an urban center located on the coast of Gambia. We have teamed up with the local government and local organizations to bring resources to this community, by supporting them through virtual and on-site agricultural training. Currently farmers in this community are not trained in how to condition soil.
The proposed farm land is near the Gambian river providing easy access to water for irrigation. This will require installation of solar powered irrigation pumps. PVC pipes will run from the river to the growing space and a hosing system will installed to irrigate the crops.
Africatown International holds an annual art auction to support our global virtual classroom initiative. The event features local African American and Africaan paintings, art and crafts. The event seeks to solidify the common threads of artistry that run through the diaspora to the African Continent and beyond.
Africatown International offers a range of after-school programs focused on African immigrant youth and African-American youth. Students get help with homework, gain valuable vocational skills, learn how to build a business and gain leadership skills through culturally relevant instruction and mentoring.
In the fall of 2016, Africatown International began an after-school program for students from the Soninnke community enrolled in in the Seattle Public School district. Students from the Soninnke Community in West Africa. This demographic is not being supported linguistically by the school district or the City of Seattle. AI serves these students by offering after-school tutoring, ESL classes, basic computer skills training, and onsite support services.
Africatown International provides social services to people of African Descent with an emphasis on preventing homelessness. We believe in a community based, integrated response to homelessness that involves working in collaboration with service providers that provide mental health services, drug counseling, job training and employment assistance, funding for housing and utilities, childcare, tutoring, English as a Second Language classes, GED classes, art and tech programs as well as access to healthy food.
We work to prevent homelessness by addressing root causes. People of African descent have experienced and continue to experience tremendous trauma. It is important for anyone working with our communities to understand that any intervention has to take into account the psychological reasons people get stuck in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Our “blame the victim” culture has very little empathy for people who have lost their way. When people come to us for assistance we first hear their story and learn more about their experiences and how they cope with the trauma they experience be it witnessing or being a victim of violence, losing a loved one to gun violence (which is near epidemic proportions nationally), or other traumatic experiences. We then work with them on a plan for “healing” first and foremost. This involves building a support system around people who understand what it’s like to be a person of African descent in America.
We hold events where people talk about their experiences and hear other people’s stories. This helps people see that their problems are not isolated and that other people are going through similar experiences. An integrated approach to addressing homelessness that involves an individualized intervention plan are critical pieces of our approach. We believe the way out is through healing, education, employment and immediate access to resources for emergencies such as rent payments, help with light bills and food. We ensure that the prevention of homelessness is a priority by having designated staff focused on outreach, life skills classes and creating a homelessness prevention strategy for the family or individual.