Success Academy Charter Schools is a a free public charter school network in New York City. It is open to all residents of New York State, and attendance is determined by lottery. Seventy-six percent of the children who attend Success Academy live in low income households. About Ninety-three percent of the children who attend Success Academy are children of color.
There are many unique issues that face people of color throughout their lives, from birth to adulthood. These issues consist of a complex mixtures of inequality, disrespect, stereotypes, discrimination and alienation on many different levels. These issues affect children of color in a large variety of ways. This is an important issue that Success Academy takes into consideration, since 93% of its student body consists of children of color. Being female also comes with it’s own unique experiences, issues and struggles.
Success Academy Crown Heights has taken on these issues by offering a Girl’s Group club. It was started in 2014 by Cole Yaverbaum, a special education teacher who had started teaching second graders. The Girls’ Group takes place on Wednesday afternoons. Girls sit in a circle on a rug, eat lunch and talk about how their days went. After chatting and eating lunch, certain pre-planned topics are spoken about. For example the girls may have a discussion about what stereotypes are, and give examples of stereotypes. These discussions are meant to invoke critical thinking about personal identity, female empowerment and how the media depicts girls. The Girls’ Club provides a safe space for girls where they can share experiences, take interest in relevant social topics and form strong, confident, secure identities as women in general, as well as women of color. Any girl of any background can join the club, but the majority of children who go to Success Academy are people of color, and in the picture of the Girls’ Club, every girl is a child of color. So having a space space like this is an advantage to take on issues specifically pertaining to being girls of color—not just being girls or being people of color.