Jan. 15, 2021
"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there 'is' such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Welcome to Equity in Action
Dear Team DPS,

Equity. It’s a word you probably hear a lot in DPS -- and we hope you do. Equity is, after all, one of our Shared Core Values, and something that is meant to resonate through everything we do, in whatever role we may have. And it’s never been a more important guiding force in our community and in our country.

But what does it really mean to be an equity district? How does it influence our work and strengthen DPS? What does it mean for each of us? And what does equity look like in action? 

You may have questions like these, and we are still learning and growing to find some of these answers ourselves. Yet there are some things we do know to be true. Most importantly, that equity is our guiding value, and it will take all of us to make it a reality for our students and team members. 

We know that equity starts from the top, and we must take action and speak out about our commitment to justice and support for our Black and African American students. 

Equity is a journey -- one that was punctuated through a qualitative research study conducted by Dr. Sharon Bailey after DPS heard concerns related to the experience of Black and African American students, families and team members. This research, known as the Bailey Report, was commissioned by former Superintendent Cordova, and involved 40 one-on-one interviews and three focus groups with African American educators.

In response, DPS adopted a set of recommendations developed by the African American Equity Task Force (AAETF) in June 2017, followed by the Black Excellence Resolution passed by the Board of Education in February 2019. During that same time, former Superintendent Susana Cordova established our Equity Cornerstone in her entry plan, introduced in February 2019, which states:
We’re focused on fostering the unwavering belief that each student comes to school with excellence in them and our work is to bring that excellence to life. All of Team DPS is working on learning how we can better serve and support our students and families in a culturally responsive way. We will engage educators and support staff districtwide in equity audits, book studies and professional learning and training so that we create an equitable organization by design.
As the journey continues, more work has been done to identify what equity means to all of us as part of Team DPS. In October, our guiding Equity Statement -- which was created through conversations with community, team and families members -- was formally presented to the Board of Education. It reads:
Racial and Educational Equity is our collective responsibility. We will achieve equity when we dismantle deeply rooted systems of oppression that have historically resulted in inequitable access and distribution of opportunities and resources for those who represent marginalized identities, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language and ability. We will create conditions where we all belong, are included, have clear purpose (why) and have the autonomy to lead in our respective areas. By creating these conditions, we will eliminate the predictability of success or failure for our students and team members.
Equity means an acknowledgment of harm that has been done -- what we believe is foundational to change and what we commit to do now, and for years to come. Because we know one message, one statement, one training will not undo years of harm, trauma and racism. If we take action now for our Black students, leaders and educators, we will achieve our vision and ensure all students succeed.

And we ask you to join us on this journey. To support, we’ve created this Equity in Action update, designed to regularly share equity stories, highlights and resources, to best support each other and our students.

Equity is our collective responsibility. We will continue to lead this work, and we need every member of Team DPS to make the commitments to help us achieve our vision where every child succeeds not by accident, but by design.

Dwight Jones
Interim Superintendent
Spotlight on
Dr. Angelina Walker
Each month, we will highlight an equity champion and their story of how they came to DPS, what resources they've used to succeed and how they're making a difference.

“I love challenging myself to make things better for all people in that building. I love learning and trying to figure out how to best teach our kids and support our teachers.”

Read more about John H. Amesse principal Dr. Angelina Walker and how she's building a school culture based on equity.
Moving the Needle
Each month, we'll showcase celebrations big and small, and the work being done to create more equity for students and team members throughout DPS. Share what you and your team have been doing to make a change for a more equitable DPS here.
DMLK 'Know Justice Know Peace' Resolution Passed
The Black Student Alliance at Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Early College spent the summer working to effect change in DPS. A visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington D.C. last fall inspired the students to push for the DPS history curriculum to be more inclusive. They started by launching a podcast in June, and advocating to the Board of Education (BOE). 

Their hard work paid off on Oct. 22, when the BOE passed the Know Justice Know Peace Resolution, which ensures that all schools within DPS' curriculum and professional practices include comprehensive historical and contemporary contributions of Black, Indigenous and Latino communities by the start of 2021-22 school year. These incredible students garnered national attention on the Today Show for their advocacy -- watch the clip here!
Reintroducing the New African American Education Network
We are excited to announce that the African American Education Network has been updated and redesigned to include new resources and more information about Black history in Colorado. The Black Experience in DPS provides a timeline with important events and people from the late 1700s to modern day. 

This website is designed to provide African American students, parents and families with tools to help navigate ECE-12 education in Denver and beyond. On the site, families can access useful links to DPS student supports and services, college and careers, scholarships, and community-based organizations that provide tutoring and other academic enrichment. Share this resource with your students and families. If you have questions, contact [email protected].
New Program Supports Young Black Men and Boys
Our new student equity initiative "The Lead," through My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), will launch on Jan. 25. Within the Obama Foundation, MBK Alliance focuses on building safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color where they feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunity. The program is for students of color in 10th-12th grade and offers one session per month. If you have questions, contact [email protected] and share the flier!
DPS Cultural Moments: First Semester Celebrations
DPS strives to recognize cultures and identities year round. With equity as our core identity, we aim to celebrate the significant cultural moments of our students and staff, especially those who have not been historically and consistently recognized. We will continue to honor the rich diversity within DPS during nationally recognized months dedicated to cultures and identities — and this year, we’ll highlight stories, events and resources shared by members of our DPS community. Learn more about Cultural Moments on the DPS website.

As part of our Cultural Moments campaign, teammates in the Academics Division have curated resources for educators to share in the classroom and deepen personal learning. Access curriculum supports for Hispanic Heritage, Disability Awareness, Native American Heritage and more on The Commons.

We hope this effort will recognize, acknowledge and honor communities, cultures and lived experiences, and create a DPS where all belong and are included. Questions? Email [email protected].
Multicultural Outreach Videos in DPS Curriculum
The DPS Academics and Multicultural Outreach teams have been working together to incorporate culturally responsive content into our curriculum through video resources. These videos provide educators a way to share local Colorado history and culture in the classroom. Videos that have been incorporated into the curriculum include Black Miners of Colorado, Tuskegee Airmen of Colorado, Abstract Imaginism about artist David Garcia, Huitzilopochtli Aztec Dancer Dancers, Adrianna Abarca and Breathing.
Get Involved
5th Annual National Day of Racial Healing

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation invites you to participate in the 5th annual National Day of Racial Healing. The day will be centered around experiences rooted in truth-telling that lead to racial healing for a more just and equitable future. It’s a day for authentic dialogues, so we can start to see and hear each other; a day to share our stories, to recognize our shared humanity, so we can come together and transform the world around us.

This year, Baratunde Thurston will serve as the host and will be joined by leading advocates, musicians, artists and others who are taking action to help heal our communities.

Learn more about W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s YouTube premiere event for the National Day of Racial Healing and RSVP here.
'Anchored in Advocacy'
Virtual Event

Join DPS from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 9 for a virtual event designed to celebrate African American family and student engagement, highlighting social and academic excellence. Hosted by the African American Equity Task Force, this is the third event in a series of programming created to celebrate, educate and inform families on how to navigate DPS systems and structures.

School staff, families and community members can nominate students who have demonstrated advocacy in their school and/or community. Click here to nominate a student or register for the event.

As we get ready to join the celebration of National African American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID), we encourage you to nominate a parent or family member to be highlighted during the Anchored in Advocacy event. Click here to nominate a parent/family member.
Resources to Support Educators of Color
Educator of Color Chats 
Beginning this month, the Success by Design Team will host monthly Educator of Color (EOC) chats on the fourth Thursday of every month from 4:30-5:30 p.m. We seek to create safe spaces where educators of color can collaborate and engage in honest dialogue. We aspire to elevate the voices, empowerment and retention of EOC’s by building a strong community of leaders, mentors and resources. We look forward to seeing you on Jan. 28 as we kick off our first DPS EOC Chat. RSVP here and share the flier!
Success by Design Virtual Teacher of Color Showcase
DPS is excited to host a powerful Virtual Teacher of Color Showcase on March 10 from 3:30-6 p.m. Our goal is to hire and retain educators who are committed to improving our schools and academic success of ethnically diverse students. Whether you are already a teacher or hope to become one, join this event for an opportunity to meet with inspiring school leaders and engage in workshops for developing an equity mindset to build a culture for success. Express your interest in this opportunity here and learn more.
Living Our DPS
Luz Marlin Niño Mantilla
Teacher, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
Students First, Equity

"Marlin Niño is a shining example of our Shared Core Values of Students First and Equity. She has continuously put her students ahead of everything in her life and tirelessly works to provide opportunities for them and support them in every way. 

Marlin is the only language teacher in our building and teaches everything from beginning Spanish all the way up to AP Spanish Language Arts. She oversees the Metro After-School tutoring program in our building, is the Seal of Biliteracy advocate and co-sponsors the senior class. Additionally, she is a regular supporter of all of our students' extra-curricular activities and shows up to watch or chaperone plays, sporting events and dances. She is always the first person to volunteer to help set up and run events. 

During the pandemic, Ms. Niño has managed to continue to run all of these things virtually. She emails students daily to remind them that they are missed when they don't make it to advisory or tutoring. Marlin reminds them to be strong and look for small things to celebrate.

Marlin is one of the strongest advocates for our students in every way, and she is a champion for equity. We are beyond lucky to have this wonderful woman in our district."

-- Julie Waugh, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
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