The Black Montessori Education Fund (BMEF) believes that education has the power to positively transform one's life. Historically within the African-American community, education was seen as a vehicle for liberation. The BMEF envisions an educational approach that places value on the racial, cultural, economic and spiritual background of all and seeks to support the wholistic development of each individual to their fullest potential.
The mission of The Black Montessori Education Fund (BMEF) is to increase engagement and support positive experiences of Black children and adults in Montessori education.
Africans in the diaspora continue to grapple with the traumatic after effects of the enslavement of their ancestors and the subsequent post-abolition environment of apartheid and Jim Crow laws that sought to deny them their freedom as children of God and citizens of their respective countries. Throughout the struggle, education has been viewed by many as a means of liberation, and indeed, the tremendous gains that Blacks made during the period after abolition, are a testament to the power of education to transform lives. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960's brought many positive changes in access to education, however, there is still much more to be done to close the opportunity gap, provide Black children with culturally responsive learning environments from birth, neutralize the expanding Black high school dropout rate, support Black students seeking to attend college, from beginning to end, and provide viable alternatives, such as trade schools, to those not wanting a 4-year degree.
In the early 1900s in Italy, Maria Montessori also discovered the tremendous power of education to liberate and transform lives. Her focus, however, was on the child, and her discoveries about children and how they learn, revolutionized education. Montessori considers education as an aid to life, and something that should begin at birth. The Montessori Method supports the development of the whole child--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and recognizes and nurtures the child's spontaneous developmental impulses. This method of education offers children constructive choices and fosters the deep concentration necessary to put children in touch with their own inner teacher and thus awaken them to the light within. This method requires a particular spiritual preparation and transformation of the adult who works with the child as well as a carefully prepared, culturally responsive environment designed to support the child's development.
Montessori in the Black community is not a new phenomenon (see "No Hidden Figures: Black Montessori History" in Montessori Public by Dr. Ayize and colleagues), however, while we have benefited tremendously from the work done by those Black Montessori trailblazers, there is still a critical need for trained Black Montessori teachers, school leaders and trainers. Many Black families are unaware of Montessori education and its trans-formative potential; and access to good quality, culturally responsive Montessori education continues to elude far too many Black families.
The BMEF seeks to bridge the gap in the awareness and understanding of Montessori educational principles and practice while at the same time creating a pipeline of highly trained Black Montessori teachers and school leaders who are focused on providing high quality, culturally responsive Montessori environments to Black children. In addition, the BMEF seeks to support Black Montessorians desirous of opening their own schools or becoming Montessori teacher trainers. Lastly, the BMEF will encourage and support Black families in their efforts to understand and gain access to Montessori education for their children. To advance these broad principles, the BMEF will: