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Charles Butt donates $1 million to PVAMU; Funds to support Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice



PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (June 11, 2020) – Charles Butt, H-E-B Chairman, announced today a $1,000,000 personal contribution to Prairie View A&M University in honor of University President Ruth J. Simmons.

President Simmons joined Prairie View in 2017 after retiring as President of Brown University where she served as President from 2001 to 2012.  She had previously served as President of Smith College from 1995 to 2001. Born in Grapeland, Texas, she grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward where she graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School.  She holds both a Master of Arts and Ph.D. degree in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University.  Simmons chairs the Board of Directors of the Holdsworth Center for Excellence in Education Leadership.

“When I learned of Mr. Butt’s gift, I was overwhelmed,” said President Simmons. “His generosity to the children of the State of Texas and his concern for the quality of education afforded Prairie View students is inspiring to us all.  Our students can learn a good deal from his humanity and the manner in which he lives and practices his values.”

The funds will be used to support The Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice at the University.  This Center will be proposed for approval to the Texas A&M Chancellor and Board of Regents and the Coordinating Board with the following proposed mission:

The Center positions itself as a multidisciplinary effort, drawing from an array of existing programs that can, together, facilitate greater understanding of racism and discrimination on the one hand and the need for justice on the other hand to strengthen and sustain civil society.  The center’s activities will include:

  • encouraging curricular innovation that helps students better understand how racial and other biases can impact their beliefs, affect their choices and shape their opportunities in life;
  • educational programs for the public on how to combat bias in their communities;
  • expert support for government and organizations seeking to understand how they can improve upon their efforts to assure a bias-free, inclusive environment;
  • training for individuals in leadership positions who wish to improve upon their leadership for inclusion; and
  • support for scholarship and research that adds to knowledge about new areas of injustice that are in need of urgent attention from policymakers and others (such as human trafficking).PVAMU President Ruth J. Simmons

Prairie View A&M University is a state-assisted, public, comprehensive land grant institution of higher education. It is dedicated to achieving excellence and relevance in teaching, research, and service and seeks to invest in programs and services that address issues and challenges affecting the diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population of Texas and the larger society, including the global arena.

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Black Life Texas

PepsiCo Fighting Food Insecurity at HBCUs



Almost 40% of HBCU students report being food insecure, a statistic that carries more weight as many campuses encounter record attendance rates this semester, according to data released this year from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study.

PepsiCo is announcing a $250,000 donation or $50,000 each to help fight food insecurity across five Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs. The campuses are Prairie View A&M University, Morgan State University, Florida A&M University, Jackson State University, and Bethune-Cookman University. This donation is part of PepsiCo’s larger HBCU Tour to celebrate, inspire and recruit HBCU students.

Tailored to each university’s needs, the donation from PepsiCo is designed to support each campus’s unique efforts to help students who struggle to balance the cost of their education and their next meal. With the rate of food insecurity among college students growing nationally, those at HBCUs are historically impacted the most.

Across the five campuses, the grants will support more than 37,500 students facing food insecurity by funding on-campus food pantry supplies and groceries, meal plans for homeless students, workshops for cooking and meal prep, stipends for student staff within the pantries, and more. In addition, PepsiCo will also supply free meals for approximately 2,000 students at select universities during their respective winter finals weeks in December.

“As a longtime supporter of HBCUs, PepsiCo has always aimed to help students thrive, both on campus and beyond. This year, our HBCU Tour continues to celebrate each universities’ rich culture and recognize the wealth of talent on campus while also addressing the barriers students can face in completing their education,” said Kent Montgomery, senior vice president of Industry Relations and Multicultural Development, PepsiCo. “Our donation to tackle food insecurity is another example of our commitment to empower students and ensure their success in every aspect of their educational journey.”

The funds will be distributed to Prairie View A&M University, Florida A&M University, Morgan State University, Jackson State University and Bethune-Cookman University during key university events throughout November, including the SWAC and Florida Classic games on November 18.

In addition to bringing authentic and engaging experiences to students and alumni this football season, they will also show up to support students throughout the semester with recruiting efforts, including on-campus events, intimate dinners highlighting local businesses, and the opportunity to engage with PepsiCo leadership– inspiring the next generation of diverse talent.

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Inaugural Convening of the Male Teachers of Color Collaborative Calls for Change



City Education Partners’ Male Teacher of Color Collaborative held its inaugural convening, Bold Direction Towards Representation, on Saturday, July 29. Over 100 local educators of color and other education leaders gathered for the groundbreaking convening to shine a light on the underrepresentation and positive impact of male teachers of color in local classrooms. Through dynamic discussions and collaboration, attendees explored innovative strategies and best practices to increase male teachers of color representation and impact.

Over the last year, the City Education Partners has partnered with a group of dynamic male teachers of color to form the Male Teacher of Color Collaborative.

“It is vital that young boys of color in San Antonio schools are able to see themselves in their teachers,” said City Education Partners CEO Dalia Flores Contreras. “Research has shown that male students of color who have the opportunity to learn from someone who looks like them benefit socially and academically, but less than 20% of our teacher workforce are males of color. The 11 members of this collaborative are K-12 teachers from all types of schools who are uniting across the campuses to champion a positive change.”

City Education Partners (CEP) is committed to helping create a vibrant educational ecosystem in San Antonio, where public schools thrive and every child has an educational experience that prepares them to shape their own future.

One way the nonprofit aims to do this is through its teacher and leader talent pipeline strategy. They believe that every classroom needs an excellent teacher and every school needs a strong leader. CEP works in partnership with school operators and related organizations to fund programs that attract and retain teachers, as well as those who work to elevate teaching as a highly valued and desirable profession.

Keynote speakers at the convening included three-time GRAMMY-nominated musician SaulPaul, Founder of the Center for Black Educator Development Sharif El-Mekki, and the Board Chair of Essence Preparatory Public School Brian Dillard.

“I believe in revolutionizing education by dramatically increasing the number of Black educators so that low-income Black and other disenfranchised students can reap the full benefits of a quality public education,” said Keynote speaker Sharif El-Mekki, Founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development. “The Fellowship – Black Educators for Social Justice is dedicated to recruiting, retaining, and developing Black male teachers. We applaud what City Education Partners is doing to increase representation so students are better served.”

This Collaborative is designed to inform and advocate for a restored teacher pipeline with strong male teachers of color representation for our students. For more information about City Education Partners and its Male Teachers of Color Collaborative, visit

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Black Life Texas

Education Bias Hurting Our Kids



By Caleb Alexander

Merry Graduation! Happy Matriculation! I never know what to call it, but it is my absolute favorite time of the year. I love seeing all the graduation pictures, from high school to college, to grad school. I love seeing the college acceptance letters, the robes, the degrees, the ceremonies, I love all of it. To me, this is Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween rolled into one. To me, this is Black Excellence.

While I love this time of year, when my people get to shine and show off their years of hard work, dedication, and academic achievement, to others, this is a time of anger, weeping, frustration, and anger.  It is a time for pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth, they hate these displays of Black excellence as much as I love them. 

By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with Florida and Texas trying to outdo each other with the assault on all things Black. Don’t be surprised if either legislature puts through a bill banning nighttime; yes, they’ve become just that obsessively retarded. The Texas Senate has just introduced Senate Bill 518, which mandates that Texas universities consider standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT for college admissions. This comes after the Texas House passed legislation to ban DEI initiatives on Texas university and college campuses.

The reason that this is important is because it is well documented that there is an inherent bias in standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT, and that minority students underperform on these tests. According to a recent study by Fordham University, the average ACT composite score is 20. Asian students on average, scored 24.9, while Black students averaged 16.3.  In addition to the inherent racial bias in the test, there are other disparities that cause achievement gaps as well. Access to good health care, access to good schools, access to good teachers; all these things play a part in the divergence of test scores. We live in an age where Black children are three times more likely to grow up in low-income communities and in school systems where they have been the victim of interest convergence. Interest convergence is when the dominant party, who most likely controls the school boards and therefore controls the allocation of resources, steers the best equipment, best teachers, newest equipment, and most of the resources to kids of their community. 

Additionally, Texas has surpassed California as having the most R1 top-tier research universities in the country. In other words, Texas’ higher education is now the cream of the crop. As of 2022, The University of Texas had an endowment of over $43 billion, second only to Harvard. And if oil prices surge, that endowment could surpass Harvard’s, once again making the UT school system the wealthiest on the planet. The Texas A&M system had an endowment of over $18 billion. Texas is where you want to get your higher education, but those attacking DEI, and mandating that universities consider test scores from racially biased exams, are hell-bent on not letting our children get into these schools. 

So, as the season of Black excellence in education descends upon us, let’s celebrate our achievements while keeping a wary eye on the folks who are trying to deny our kids the opportunity to continue to get their shine on. Merry Matriculation! Feliz Graduation! I’ll figure it out one day…

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