The Black Montessori Education Fund (BMEF) has been shaped in the crucible of the Black experience of some in the United States of America. Dr. Ayize Sabater, I, the BMEF's Co-Founder, was fortunate to be on the 2019 Montessori for Social Justice Unconference panel with Professor Carolyn Grimstead, of Long Island University Post. Professor Grimstead pointed to evidence of Black educators, including Mary McLeod Bethune, who recognized and acknowledged the importance of Dr. Maria Montessori's work in the early to mid 1900s (Sabater, 2019).
Dr. Ayize, seeking to build upon this rich legacy of Black educators, within the backdrop of the current racial justice unrest, came to the realization of the need for laser-focused efforts that support Black people who may be interested in using Montessori education as a liberatory instrument.
While in graduate school in 2017, Ayize joined the Board of WMI (Washington Montessori Institute), the oldest AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) training center in the United States. During this time, WMI was dissolving its 20-year partnership with Loyola University of Maryland. Ayize saw this as an opportunity to establish a first in the nation, strategic partnership between an HBCU (historically Black college and university) and an AMI training center.
Perceiving that this could be a game-changing partnership which could erect a critically needed Black teacher pipeline into the Montessori movement, he seized the moment to make that connection. However, after a few meetings with funders and others who appeared to doubt the viability of the effort, and after viscerally experiencing the pain of the June 2020 protests in Washington, DC, he sensed that something more was needed. He had an epiphany. Rather than try to convince others of not only the merits of them developing a Black Montessori teacher pipeline, but also the importance and viability of such an endeavor, he should just do it himself.
So, on July 3rd, the day before the observed Independence Day of the United States, Dr. Ayize boldly launched the BMEF, declaring his intention to develop a movement that would be one pathway to liberate Black people from harmful racist experiences in education, using racially-just Montessori practices as a tool for empowering Black people.
Sabater, A. (2019). No Hidden Figures: Black Montessori History. Montessori Public. Fall 2019, 4(1).
Mentors of Minorities in Education Total Learning Cis-tem, (MOMIE'S TLC) serves as the fiscal agent for the BMEF and is a 501 (c )3 non-profit organization.
Mentors of Minorities in Education, Inc., M.O.M.I.E's Total Learning Cis-tem, is a DC-based nonprofit organization dedicated to “nurturing the genius” of our children by creating a transformative educational experience. Our model uniquely integrates creative and culturally-relevant out-of-school time programs, opportunities for parent and community engagement, and the sharing of educational tools and resources for the community.
M.O.M.I.E’s purpose is to transform education for at-risk children of color through an educational model that uses social justice and cultural education as the foundation for improving academic outcomes for our children. M.O.M.I.E's dynamic, humanities and culture-based learning programs directly respond to the tremendous need for nontraditional learning opportunities for low-income children living in Washington, DC and Maryland. M.O.M.I.E’s strategic focus on the early childhood and school-age years reinforce our learning philosophy, which is grounded in the belief that children develop at a tremendous rate during their first years of life, and that providing humanities and culture-based education, opportunities, and services during the preschool and elementary years fosters health, positive growth, and long-term self-sufficiency.
Dr. Ayize talks with WPFW radio host Katea Stith about the launch of the BMEF.
BMEF Co-founder Dr. Ayize Sabater talks with host Bobby Gailes.